I imagine you’ve heard the key to success in school is to focus on the 3 Rs “Reading, (W)Riting and ARithmatic.”  While these skills are certainly essential, I’ve discovered several other essential “Rs” in the development of one’s life and business.

Have you ever been too busy driving to stop for gas? Without cultivating ourselves on a daily basis, our health and our business will fold. I find that practicing these seven ways of cultivation diligently keeps what matters most to me in the forefront on a daily basis. This checklist ensures I don’t angle off on some crisis, only to collapse at the end of the day to feel I’ve accomplished little.

Some of the wisdom contained in these seven ways is very old and timelessly practical. The first and last step should remain that way, but the steps in between can be organized in an order that serves you. 

1. Reorientation. As soon as possible upon awakening, visit your priorities in life. Who do you care about? What matters most to you? What is your cause? Your mission? Your purpose for being here and now? A personal mission statement, a collage of dream pictures or simply reflecting on key questions can help you start your day reoriented to your very highest priorities.

2. Reflection. Did you ever notice how inspiring nature is? A 30-minute walk in open space and subtle natural rhythms has solved more business and personal problems for me than anything else. I liken the benefits of a walk in nature to releasing pent-up air in an upside-down cup in the water. There is great resistance as you push down, but allowing air to escape from the overturned cup decreases the resistance to reaching the bottom of the basin.  A little more air released, a little less resistance, until finally all air is expelled. The cup flows freely, easily.

I believe our busy minds are like this cup, needing to expel all the air before they are free to experience and respond. Allow yourself some time each day to reflect, to expel the unprocessed thoughts of yesterday and to open your mind to the possibilities of today. Your business will grow exponentially because of it.

3. Recreation. Isn’t this a magical word? Re-creation—to be created again. We know our body is not the unchanging solid we perceive it to be. The body is constantly repairing, replacing, renewing, regenerating, and the quality of these actions depends on our ability to care for it. This is especially important if your career is in providing therapy, due to the physical demands of this profession.

Activity in the form of play, sport, exercise or integrated movement, such as yoga, all encourage recreation of a higher quality. Don’t forget those little stretches between treatments, with more at the beginning and end of the treatment schedule. Aim to recreate yourself every day.

4. Rest. Of course, the balanced equation to activity is rest. We sometimes forget our progress depends as much on resting and reflecting from the activities of our lives as much as the actual activities. Research has proved the benefits of naps, vacations and meditation. Don’t forget to recharge your batteries in the midst of your active day. Longer rest in the form of regular vacations is also essential. I aim for five to seven days off every three months.

5. Reading. Thousands of messages and bits of information flood our perceptual field daily. Ensure your field is set to filter in only those that inspire and nurture you. We are what we read. Choose daily to read for personal and professional growth. I take my study time in chunks to encompass two to four hours a week. I read something at the end of the day to inspire me, and I sleep much better because of it.

If you have a textbook you’re trying to get through, dedicate at least 15 minutes a day (except Sundays).  Even 15 minutes a day results in an hour and a half a week, all toward shaping your perception of the body and the world for the better.

6. Relationships. What can I add to this topic that hasn’t been put forth by poets, songwriters, great thinkers and inspirational leaders. Relationships are like gardens and need regular care to thrive. Ignore your garden and suffer the consequences. Make sure to include time daily to relate to your loved ones.

7. Reverence. Perhaps our greatest ally in attaining peace of mind is the appreciation of what we have. To borrow a spiritual accounting principle from Neale Donald Walsh’s Communion with God, “When you appreciate something, you raise its value.” We can all recognize the great wealth and abundance we have by finding something daily to appreciate and give thanks for. Give thanks daily, and nurture that “attitude of gratitude.”

Cultivate yourself, and your business will grow beyond your current expectations.

Don Dillon, R.M.T. is the author of Better Business Agreements and the self-study workbook Charting Skills for Massage Therapists. More than 60 of his articles have been published in industry publications, including Massage Therapy Canada, Massage Therapy Today, AMTA Journal, MASSAGE Magazine (www.MASSAGEmag.com), AMTWP Connections and various massage school and professional association newsletters. Dillon’s Web site, www.MTCoach.com, provides a variety of resources for massage therapists.