Do you want to change your life for the better? Looking for small differences to make a big difference?
A big difference is made up of many small changes in our life. We tend to make big jumps rather than take baby steps. We want to see immediate results rather than building them piece by piece. What we forget is that a small ripple starts a big wave.
Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act but a habit.” For most of our lives, we might have brushed this statement off. We’ve fought against cultivating good habits and routines because we don’t want to feel like we have to live our lives by other people’s rules. We want to be our own person and do our own thing. Besides, keeping a routine was hard work.
But you know what? Having no routine or structure is much more draining than any habits could ever be! By not doing the things we know could make us better, we deprive ourselves of the energy that doing positive activities could create. We don’t realize that our dreams and goals are just slipping away.
Creating habits is a self-investment. It allows you to always do your best for the rest of the world. It gives you structure, builds forward-moving habits and creates momentum that will carry you on days when you feel like you don’t have the strength to carry yourself.
It isn’t always easy to create good habits. As Brian Tracy says, “Good habits are hard to form but easy to live with. Bad habits are easy to form but hard to live with.” Too often, we let our motivations and desires drive us into a frenzy as we try to solve our entire problem at once instead of starting a small, new routine. There are very simple reasons bad habits so hard to escape — — instant gratification and habit slips. When we do bad habits, we receive instant gratification. We become so engrained in our comfortable ways that some things become almost automatic, we easily fall back into bad habits through habit slips.
Following a routine can help you establish priorities, limit procrastination, keep track of goals, and even make you healthier. It lowers your reliance on willpower and motivation because, as Tynan, the author of Superhuman by Habit, says, habits are “action[s] that you take on a repeated basis with little or no required effort or thought.”
Here’s something really important to remember: what works for someone else, might not work for you. That’s why it’s important to pick activities that resonate most with you, the ones that push you to become the best you that you are capable of being…and to keep doing those.
Don’t be afraid to try new habits and see how they work for you. If they leave you feeling motivated and inspired, keep doing them…if they don’t, keep trying new ones until you find ones that do.
The key is to create regular and consistent patterns, that will take you where you want to go in life, helping you maximize yourself on every level possible.
Now here are some tiny habits that can make a big difference in your life:
1. Optimize Your Mind
· Get positive: Start the day with a mantra
Positive thinking helps manage stress and even improves your health. What makes a day good or bad isn’t the events that occur, but rather your response to them. As Jim Rohn once said, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.” Pick a phrase or question that resonates with you. It could be as simple as smiling and saying “thank you” out loud, acknowledging that you have been gifted with another day.
· Be proactive: Don’t check your email first!
If you receive an email asking for work-related documents, you might be compelled to provide them immediately, even though you may have had plans to work on marketing your own business. Start your days focused on you and you will be in a much better state of mind to help others and get more accomplished all day.
· Mentally prepare: Visualize your success
Harness the power of your subconscious mind. The purpose of all of this is to pass command from your conscious mind to your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind wants to believe what you tell it (good or bad) and it will do whatever it takes to turn those commands into reality.
· Read a book (Even if it’s just a page)
Reading books offers many benefits. Reading can boost your intelligence, increase your brainpower and even strengthen your ability to empathize with other people. Reading makes us a better leader, increases our worldview and knowledge base, and reinforces our self-discipline.
· Write: Prime yourself for creativity
Spending time writing every day helps you become a better communicator, improves your ability to recall important information, and enhances your creativity. Write in a diary format and you also have the added benefit of greater self-understanding. They say that everyone has at least one million-dollar idea in his or her lifetime. You may just find yours on this list!
· Make a daily to-do list
Keep your daily to-do list small so that it’s manageable and not overwhelming. A great “hack” to make sure you keep your lists simple is using a Post-It Note. The dimensions of a Post-It Note are perfect (typically 3 X 3) because the size constraint will force you to only write down the most important things that you have to do each day.
· Break your day into chunks
Breaking your day into chunks helps you be the best you as too much time spent doing one thing can cause you to lose focus, and interest. And if you’re working on something you don’t really want to do, it makes it easier because you only have to do it for a short while.
2. Optimize Your Body
· Breathe: Practice deep breathing
Three times a day you take 10 “power breaths” using a ratio of 1–4–2. For instance, if you inhale for 6 seconds, you will hold for 24 seconds, and exhale for 12 seconds. This type of breathing brings energy to your body, making it healthier and less stressed in the process. You’ll start to feel better almost instantly…try it now.
· Eat “productive” foods
Research has found that your brain operates optimally when you consume a very specific amount of glucose (25 grams, to be exact) in a form that is released slowly over time. Foods that fall into this category have positive effects on your body and mind.
· Get out of your chair often: Exercise!
Exercise is the one part of a daily routine that most everyone loves to hate. Start seeing what positive things exercise has to offer you…not what you don’t like about it. Exercise doesn’t have to mean an hour-long grueling workout session. Take a 10–20-minute walk. Do yoga, stretches, or dance around your living room. Get on the elliptical. It doesn’t matter what you do; just do something to get your body moving!
· Get enough sleep: No less than 7 hours
Sleep is extremely important to your overall health for a multitude of reasons. In the short term, not sleeping enough can affect your judgment, mood, and even your ability to retain information. In the long term, chronic sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early death. Follow these simple tenets for healthy sleep: (1) getting enough (no less than 7 hours) and (2) getting it during the same time frame each day (as much as possible).
3. Optimize Your Soul
· Find a well of inspiration
Inspiration and motivation can come from many places — books, music, podcasts, videos, emails, other people. All you have to do is find the one or ones that resonate most with you and commit to engaging with them. Research has shown that inspiration can be activated, captured, and manipulated…and it has a major effect on important life outcomes. Find a word or phrase that is empowering and motivating to you and repeat it over and over again to yourself.
· Spend less time with people who don’t lift you up
Think about the people in your life…do they give you emotional energy or take it away? If it’s the former, spend more time with them. If it’s the latter, keep your distance and you’ll be happier.
· Give to others
Make it a goal to do something good for someone each day…and the smile on your face will be as big as the one on theirs.
4. Your Career
· Be your own evaluator
One of the best ways to achieve career success is to keep assessing your performance. An ideal way to do this would be to identify quantifiable goals and set a timeline for achieving them. Don’t wait for your annual appraisal — do it yourself!
· Be ready to learn
To excel in your career, you have to be willing to learn. Show that you are coachable, paying attention and always willing to learn new things.
· Communicate well
Communication is key to an employee’s and an organization’s success. Do it proactively.
· Set goals to achieve
Keep in mind that you’re being paid to deliver on clearly defined goals that significantly impact the company’s performance and overall mission and vision. This goal-oriented mindset will help you achieve career success, no matter where you are on the corporate ladder.
· Show, don’t tell
The value of action is far greater than that of mere words.
· Create solutions
Be the solution provider, not the problem creator. Great employees solve problems. If you don’t have the authority to give the final verdict on a problem relevant to your work or department, then make sure you offer solutions to your boss and try to help as much as you can, wholeheartedly.
5. Your Organization
· Be transparent
Honesty and vulnerability are key characteristics great leaders share. Employees remember leaders who are accountable to their mistakes and to the team.
· Give them space
To best develop talent, encourage and provide space for your colleagues to be able to step outside their job description and find inspiration in unlikely places. Give them the resources and training they need, then set them free, letting them know the team believes in their capabilities.
· Ask for feedback
Asking for feedback shows employees that leaders are approachable and willing to listen to constructive criticism. It also shows they take what employees think seriously and are willing to make changes, which makes for a more open work environment.
· Protect your options
Don’t give an undue power to someone — such as an investor — without your company’s best interests at heart. Don’t trade control of your company for an idea that might not materialize.
· Embrace competition
Competition is the lifeblood of entrepreneurship — and if someone hasn’t already taken a stab at your idea, it may not be as worthy as you think. Good leaders know that competition is what will keep them on their toes.
It’s okay to “let yourself be sloppy” when it comes to creating new habits. In other words, be specific in what you want, but also keep the flexibility necessary to work within in your lifestyle and schedule so your habits actually stick. Start small. The American Psychological Association suggests that “to improve your success, [you need to] focus on one goal or change at a time.” Never discount the power of consistently taking small, deliberate actions and the compound effect this can have on your life. Even one positive habit done daily can be the basis for major change in your life. Just start.