IOEE Guest Blog by Paul Freeman

This month I want to follow my last article by telling you a bit more about how my own journey has continued to develop, and start to explain some of my methods in a bit more detail.

It’s a journey which has literally enabled me to escape the traditional 9 to 5, and become a Digital Entrepreneur, by using digital strategies, and mindset, to work smarter.

First, just to quickly recap for those of you who may not have read my previous article, or the original IOEE spotlight feature earlier in the year, my own background stems from around 25 years working in the commercial technology sales sector.

During those years I often had to endure daily commute nightmares, something that I’m sure some of you can relate to; spending what felt like half my life stuck in traffic on the motorway.

Sadly, everyday people are still arriving stressed at offices all around the country, having just endured motorway madness, or been crammed into a hot, overcrowded, tube train for an hour, already starting their daily work routine in the wrong frame of mind.

So, in this article I want to focus on the importance of mindset, and to some extent, the mental health benefits of becoming an entrepreneur, but also to highlight the difference that having a focussed mindset has made to my own journey.

In fact, nowadays whilst doing the school run in the mornings, I still often hear traffic reports on the car radio, with the usual mentions of delays, closures, accidents, and all the other chaos, and it continues to remind me of the value of having finally taken back control, and the ability to live life on my terms, and just how far I have come in my own journey.

It’s being able to see and feel that transformation, which motivates me to give something back, to mentor and help others explore opportunities, so that they too can take back control.

I mentioned in my last article that one of the key benefits of becoming a digital entrepreneur was the ability to create freedom, choice, and control, and although my core business is centred around “digital”, and therefore a lot of the automation methods I use help to create that freedom, I appreciate that many of you reading this will be operating (or planning to setup) a more traditional business format, but, that doesn’t mean to say you can’t apply some of the digital methods, and mindset that I employ, to work smart and ultimately create more freedom and results.

I have visited and spoken at many business network meetings and entrepreneurship style workshops, and each time someone stands up to introduce themselves and explain why they want to become an entrepreneur, the answers they give are usually the same every time.

They all want to fit work around family, not the other way around, in other words, to have control, choice and freedom.

But, whilst “becoming your own boss” has its obvious appeal, never forget the focus of your original reasons, especially if it is “to get freedom and to spend more time with family”.

The last thing you want, is to hear yourself constantly saying “there isn’t enough hours in a day”, so although you become your own boss, if you end up seeing even less of your family because you are stuck to your desk all day (and night), then all you have really achieved is a change of scenery, and rather than driving to your boss’s office, you are now just stuck in your own office instead.

The point I am making is that we all have access to the same 24 hours a day, but some people use that time better than others, and so I use mindset and focus, combined with specific digital strategies, to improve time management and create added freedom, and together they form the core elements which I depend on.

I am now fortunate enough to live only a few seconds from the beach (not that it sunshine’s much to appreciate it!), but it wasn’t always like that, and compared to my previous lifestyle, becoming an entrepreneur has given me back control of my life and health.
Let me explain.

Not so many years ago I was having to endure a 2-hour daily commute to the office, leaving home at around 6am in the dark, working at the office for 8 hours, followed by yet another 2-hour commute back home again.

I didn’t do it because I wanted to, but because I had to; I needed a job, and circumstances at the time dictated that lifestyle, I didn’t have control or freedom.

Under normal circumstances, that very same journey in the middle of the day would have in fact only taken around 60 minutes or less, but of course given the volume of traffic during rush hour, the only way to guarantee getting to the office on time was to leave home at 6am.

The bottom line is that it was a nightmare just to get to work.

Sub-consciously I wasn’t mentally focussed on my job, so in addition to wishing the day away, I was also pre-occupied with the dread of the return journey home later that afternoon. I was leaving early in the morning, and getting back home late enough to miss my children’s bedtime stories. I wasn’t living a life; I was just existing to pay the bills.

Incidentally, at the time of writing this article, a news report was published which quoted the UK infrastructure chief, Lord Adonis, as suggesting that the UK faces a tainted future of gridlock on the roads, going on to say that “congestion is the single biggest problem facing Britain at the moment”.

So, compare all that to my entrepreneur lifestyle…

After a short 5 or 10-minute school run, I get back home, switch the coffee filter machine on, and then go for a 30 or 40 min walk on the beach. I get back, have a quick shower, grab a coffee, and check my emails and sales results.

Depending on my schedule for the day, I am then either doing a couple of 1-2-1 mentoring sessions online, or I am doing some attraction style marketing, whilst planning new products and digital content.

I totally appreciate that not all of you will live anywhere near a beach, let alone just a few seconds walk away, but the point is, I am using what I have available to me to focus my mindset, so likewise maybe you could go to the gym, or perhaps walk the dog for example, but the important thing is to use that “you” time to pre-plan for the day ahead without stress or distraction, it sounds obvious, but it does make a difference, as long as you stick to it routinely though.

Starting off the day stress free and focussed, produces far better results, and in less time, and the point is, it’s a stark contrast to spending that valuable time sat in traffic or being jammed like sardines into a tube train instead!

To conclude this article, I want to mention something that has formed a crucial part of my daily mindset, and I do have to admit that it took me a while to fully realise the impact of this at first, but once it clicked and started to make sense, and I applied it, the difference was remarkable.

I realised that there was no point in dwelling on the past, but at the same time there was also no point worrying about the future, because in either case all I was doing was robbing myself of valuable time thinking about the “now”.

The past has happened, so why waste time thinking about it, likewise, there is no point worrying about the future because it hasn’t happened, and in fact, it might not happen the way you think it will anyway, so whilst of course we all need to plan ahead in business, I found that by just concentrating on my immediate actions, I was already sub-consciously improving the future by default, and it became counterproductive, positive thoughts and actions right now are already creating a better future, and I have been able to turn negatives into positives.

As mentioned, in addition to mindset, I also employ several key digital strategies, which help create more freedom, and I will start to highlight some of these in my next article, and how they can also be applied to any “non-digital” traditional business models too.

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