Say "detox" and most of us think about things like cleansing out our physical bodies, or maybe spending a period of time away from intoxicants like alcohol or drugs.

As someone whose entrepreneurial home base is the wine industry, and whose work-life balance involves a healthy dose of yoga and mindfulness practices, I've navigated my way around a detox more than once. This time, however, I've started to see the mind-body detox as a kind of metaphor for my professional life as well.

A detox is about "the reset," especially when it's done seasonally as it has been for millennia in the yogic tradition. It's a systematic way to release accumulated stress, toxicity and imbalance in the body, which rejuvenates it, resets it, and primes it for the next phase of the year.

Who wouldn't want some of that, in both our work and our life?

This spring, while fully honoring the intentions of the ancient practices, I'm also experimenting with ways to apply the ideas of the practice to my work in the startup space. Here are three ways that that's playing out, and how they can be relevant to your business too.

1. Eliminate what you don't need.

As the lifespan of our startup turns the corner into Year Three, and as we continue to find firmer ground in terms of business development, "trimming down" the scope of our offering has become regular practice.

Partly it's about focus and finding the flow within the initial big idea that launched your business in the first place. But it's also about eliminating what isn't working and what you no longer need, even though some of those things seemed so critical at first and nourishing to the lifeblood of the business.

In yoga we talk about this as escorting toxic residue out of our system, and breaking poor habits that are sapping vitality and energy from where we need it most. It isn't an easy step, regardless of the detox you're doing, because there's no doubt a history to the habits in the first place. But what was useful in the beginning isn't necessarily what's useful now; trimming down or eliminating those things keeps the system running cleanly and efficiently.

2. Set aside time to reflect.

Detoxes can vary by length of time, though I'm most familiar with the routine of a 10-day detox. One of my favorite practices during those 10 days is setting aside a period of time, usually first thing in the morning, to mediate and reflect.

What would happen if you set aside, say, 20 to 40 minutes each morning for 10 days straight to do nothing but reflect on your business? We all crave time to just think, and the empty space that's so inviting to fresh, original thoughts. Here's your chance.

It isn't a forever-commitment; it's just 10 days, for at least 20 minutes a day. Let the slate be blank. No one's watching. Close your eyes if it helps. Just sit and start with the sincere intention of reflecting on your business, and see what comes up. Maybe jot down a note or two but, most of all, just notice your thoughts about your business when there isn't a specific end goal in mind.

3. Revision a new structure of your time.

Part of what makes detoxes so effective, for me, is the routine and structure of the days. The outline of a day, for example, is oriented around sleeping hours (10:30 pm to 6:30 am, usually) and hours in between meals (at least four or five). When frequent travel and switching of time zones is a big part of your work, as it is for me, this kind of routine seems idyllic.

And it is. That's because the guess work has been taken out of the equation, at least for those 10 days. What I find myself doing with this "respite" from a chaotic schedule is dedicating certain of those hours, like the time between breakfast and lunch, to a new project. In my case, it's learning a new online tool that will be useful to the business.

Having a structure to the day that is out of the ordinary, even when having a structure period is out of the ordinary, is a unique opportunity to open windows of time for something you don't normally need to do.

Those windows of time won't last forever, and that's part of the appeal of a designated "detox," especially when it's done a few times throughout the year. Enjoy the routine of it while you can.

Published on: Apr 17, 2019
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