As many of you already know, I send out an email to my clients every Sunday. It’s full of lessons that I’ve learned from other high-achievers, and lessons of my own on how to set goals and level up in every area of life.

Recently, a client shared how much he loves these weekly emails with me, and one of his biggest takeaways really struck me:

“I treat myself as my favorite client,” Brent said. “I make time to invest in myself. And I take it slow.”

I’ll tell you why this resonates. So many of my clients come to me complaining about how little time they have in their lives for serious self-improvement.

They work 60, 70, 80 hours a week … they shoehorn in time with family whenever possible … and they sleep less so they can get dive back into the fray as quickly as possible.

“When do I possibly have time for deep work, goal-setting, or focus exercises?” they ask.

It’s not about time. It’s about priorities.

When it comes to your business, the client always comes first, right? And because you’re passionate about what you do and want nothing less than success, you dive head-first into work every day of every week.

But there’s only so much you can do in your business if you’re exhausted, stretched too thin, and horrendously overworked. Not only are you tapped out of energy, but you lose your passion and creativity. And where do you think your business goes then? Down.

Brent is absolutely right. You need to start treating yourself like your #1 client.

For him, that means soaking in my weekly accountability and teaching emails for hours. He prints each of them out, marks them up, and highlights specific quotes that he wants to weave into his daily mindfulness.

This intentionality didn’t come from nowhere. After years working his butt off, Brent noticed something about other agency owners in his industry—what he calls the “Lack of Time/Growth Loop.”

What happens, he says, is that entrepreneurs claim they don’t have time to invest in themselves. Naturally, they stop growing—and their dream businesses suffer. They complain about that, too, and when someone suggests that they should take time to invest in themselves, they return to square one with the tired refrain: “I don’t have time.”

Yes, you do have time. What you don’t have are the right priorities.

So I want you to do something right now—or at least, before the end of the day. No more “Growth Loop” excuses.

  1. Set aside 15 minutes.
  2. Sit down at a table with a pen and some paper.
  3. Remove all distractions. Turn your phone off. Get away from your computer. Shut the door to your office. Tell your employees/coworkers that you need 15 minutes undisturbed.
  4. Take 4 deep breaths, holding each one in for a few seconds before exhaling. Keep in mind that this exercise is not about judgment, so remove that from your mind. This is about growth and improvement.
  5. At the top of the page, write down your top 3 goals for the rest of the year. Be as specific as possible.
  6. Divide the rest of your paper into 2 columns. Title the one on the left “Current Priorities” and the one on the right “New Priorities.”
  7. Make room for a list of 3 groups of 5 priorities in both columns. Title the groups “Time,” “Energy,” and “Money.”
  8. Start with the left column. Think carefully about how you spend your time, energy, and money right now. Write in your top 5 current priorities in each of these categories. (I shouldn’t have to say this, but I will: Be brutally honest or this exercise will be worthless.)
  9. Take a moment to reflect on what you’ve written and how they conflict with or work against the goals you have written at the top of the page. How have they held you back or made goal achievement impossible?
  10. Next, as you consider your goals for the year, move to the right column and begin adding in your new priorities. Keep in mind that self-investment in each of these categories is key to your success. How will investing time, energy, and money in yourself help you reach your goals for the year?
  11. Once you have this completed list, you can start to brainstorm action steps. Consider starting a Morning Routine that allows you to focus on you as part of your new priorities. (And definitely take a look at my 10-3-2-1-0 Formula that will help you sleep well without the burden of daily to-dos still swimming in your head.)
  12. Set this list somewhere you can review it daily—by your computer, near your bed, or by the coffee machine. Make it a daily ritual to read through it.
  13. Get a mentor or coach if you don’t already have one. Find someone who will hold you accountable—not only to your goals, but to your new priorities which make achieving those goals possible.

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I’m happy to say that Brent is more successful that he’s ever been. He didn’t let a busy life get in the way of setting the right priorities and making time for himself. He’s happier, healthier, and more passionate than ever about growing his business.

Don’t let a hectic schedule get in the way of your personal growth. Complete the exercise above, then commit to real change so you can become a better you—and build your business as you grow.

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Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men's Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift to high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he'll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com

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