It will be the most demanding thing you’ll ever have to do, creating habits. This principle is so well known in life and has the power to be transferred to anything you want to change or improve upon. It is simple, think about it… “I want to spend more time doing the things I love”, ok let’s start from the top and work our way backward. You want more time to ________, fill in the blank: cycling, yoga, volunteering, hiking, golfing, pottery, twisted painting or fishing. Whatever you love most to do when you have free time, ALL that free time. I love to golf, I could play every day of my life and never get bored, now I may have lost half of my crowd, because golf may be the most boring activity in the world to you. Let’s switch it up, more time to spend with your kids. Simple, start right now by making a log of what you do every hour for the next week. I am confident you will find the areas in your life that are taking up your time. Then cut out the ones that are not getting you closer to your goal. Simple so far? It’s not, I have struggled in the past and still do today being consistent and disciplined to create the habits in my life to get me to the goals that I value most. “The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be” –Ralph Waldo Emerson.
It starts with the commitment, which is one of the hardest steps. We have all had a case of excusitis in our life, “I’m going to start eating better and exercising after the holidays”. I don’t mean to be harsh, the reality is, if and only if you want to change in your life, you will have to change some things. I read a book called, The Slight Edge written by Jeff Olson. I want to take a minute to talk about how Jeff took the principle he teaches in this book and became wildly successful and happy. You can be both you know, the phrase, “it’s lonely at the top” is only true if you allow it to be. You can be massively successful and be happy at the same time. Jeff’s life is a true, beach bum to millionaire story. He dropped out of school and headed to Daytona beach, lifted weights, chased girls and grew out his long curly blonde hair, he was known as Gorgeous George. Sounds cool at the time, but he was cutting grass at the country club and lugging around golf clubs for the members of the club, to just stay afloat. That clearly was not his definition of success, so what does a man do? Start your own company right? Well, that failed pretty quickly. Next step, back to school. He graduated at the top of his class, built a strong resume and was recruited by a gigantic tech firm. He then went on to build a series of businesses that became more successful than the previous venture. To bring you current Jeff Olson launched a company that went from zero to 100 million dollars in sales in just over a year, those are record breaking numbers. Want to know how he did?
He refers to a pattern in our life, called the roller coaster. When we are in a time of struggle, we generally will do whatever it takes to get back to survival and once we start to feel comfortable we stop doing the things that got us there in the first place and then downhill again. We must escape the dreaded cycle of the roller coaster. The first step is awareness. Take time to reflect in your life and be honest with yourself. I know this cycle has occurred as least once in your lifetime. It happens in all areas of our life, our finances, our health, and our relationships. I have been here plenty of times and in all areas of my life. But we survived it and what got us to survive that circumstance is the same thing that can lead to outrageous success. The secret to ending the roller coaster is very simple, not easy but simple. Jeff Olson refers to it as “simple daily disciplines”.
Let’s break that down, why are daily disciplines so important to be massively successful? Simply because, once you have become disciplined in an area in your life, day in and day out for a period, it eventually leads to a habit. The definition of habit by dictionary.com is: an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. Before I go forward I want to be clear about how important consistency is, I’m not talking about 5 days in a row, one day off, 7 days on and then 2 days off. Think about the habit of smoking cigarettes. A study done by cancercontrol.cancer.gov said that the range of puffs per cigarette is 8-16. For my example let’s use 12. If you smoke a pack a day for 20 years, that is 1,752,000 puffs. My point is we are forming habits every day whether we know it or not, why not make them great habits. I know that’s an extreme case of habits, but imagine how much more successful and happy you could be if you created just one habit in your life that would move you forward personally or professionally. It requires consistency every day until it becomes a habit.
I learned this principle in my life three years ago and I am not even close to being disciplined in all areas of my life. However, I will say that I have never felt better about my future path, both personally and professionally. I am now laser focused on no more than three areas of my life at a time. I want to take a minute to talk about that last sentence. When I first learned about daily disciplines, I started with seven areas to improve on over the course of 30 days. Guess how many I was successful in creating a habit over that 30-day period? You guessed it, none… Not ONE! I soon realized that if I was just focused on one thing over 1 week that was a great start. It took me so long to do that, because of my personality, I was certain I could tackle 42 disciplines in 3 hours. I was getting frustrated, it was so hard to be disciplined in any area, for any length of time. I would do well for a week feel great and give myself a reward, that was not productive to my goal. Then before you know it 2 weeks go by without a single day of discipline. See the challenge here, it is easy to do something for a week or even two weeks, but then life happens, there are distractions. It’s easy to be disciplined when everything is going well. The true challenge is, will you hit your discipline when you are faced with adversity.
Here are three simple steps to get you started;
Step One: Write it Down
No matter what area you want to focus on to improve, there is one very important skill and that is envisioning. Envisioning is having the ability to create a vivid picture in your mind that has not yet happened. Please don’t misunderstand this, I am not talking about a dream board or daydreaming about a dream house you want (although this can be helpful) the best way for the brain to crystalize it is to use your senses, write it down. Start by coming up with 5 things you want. A lake house, more time to volunteer, the dreamy spouse, a healthier you or the vacation of a lifetime. Just start writing, don’t understand estimate the power of your mind, when it comes to the skill of envisioning. Because it is a skill, that means it requires practice. Great news, because it is a skill, it can be learned.
Step Two: Look at it Every Day
The reason this step is so vitally important is to always be reminding yourself every day what’s important to you. Exactly the reason why you want to surround yourself with positive uplifting people every day. Keep what’s important to you close and never lose focus on your values. Your daily decisions should be based on your values. When you set goals and look at them every day the subconscious brain goes to work for you. You will come up with the right actions and it’s important to keep doing those actions consistently applied over time and you will be amazed how things will come together to achieve your goals. You will accomplish things you never thought were possible and when you do, you will have hope and when you have hope, you can do anything.
Step Three: Start with a Plan
“A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline”. –Harvey Mackay.
This is the area that challenges most people because we want to create a plan that will get us all the way to the top of Everest. The most important part of this step is to just start. Even if you set one thing to do today, complete that and then set one for the next day. Take it one day at a time, once you get 2-3 days in an area moving you forward, then try to put together a streak of 7 days. I can’t express enough how great you will feel to accomplish one simple task per day for 7 days. It’s exhilarating to go every day for a week moving closer towards something that you are passionate about.
Life is short and it travels extremely fast. I challenge anyone who wants something more, to start right now. Don’t wait, find something that you want so bad that it brings a huge smile to your face just thinking about it. Don’t worry about how you will do it. Just start by writing it down, look at it every day and have a plan. I believe everyone can do one thing today to move them closer towards something they desire. Chase it hard every day and never stop!
“Press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” — Ray Kroc.
Never give up!