Yesterday, Jaime wrote her second post on mission commitment – the importance of relentlessly pursuing your goal. There have been times in my life when my mission commitment was high (e.g. marathon training last year during a tough winter), but admittedly there have been times when my mission commitment has not been as strong. What can happen when your mission commitment isn’t strong?
Have you ever set your alarm clock early? Perhaps you wanted to get up early to exercise, or study, or write. You had all sorts of good intentions when you set the alarm before going to bed. But what happens at 5:30am when the alarm goes off?
We’re all familiar with this. When the alarm goes off, we immediately engage in mental renegotiation. We start thinking about how warm it is under the covers, or how tired we feel and that more sleep must be good for us. We do all sorts of bartering and trading in our minds, and before you know it, you wake up at 7:30am and not only missed out on going to the gym, but might actually be late for work!
Check out this great post by Steve Pavlina on how to wake up early. If your mission commitment is high and you’re willing to practice, you can wake up early every morning without question. Also, there’s a whole website/blog dedicated to waking up early, if that’s your goal.
Waking up early is a great example of mental renegotiation, but it’s not the only time it occurs. Think of these examples and possible solutions:
You go out to a restaurant with your friends with every intention of eating something healthy, but once the waiter tells you the chef’s special, you cave.
- Solution: a friend of mine told me last week that she always tries to look up a restaurant’s menu online prior to showing up. She already knows what she is going to order, so that she’s not sitting there in the restaurant being tempted by all the delicious descriptions on the menu and intoxicating aromas wafting throughout the dining room.
You commit to drinking less alcohol, but still want to be social. Before heading to a party, you tell yourself you are just going to sip on water. You walk into the party to find your friend celebrating a new promotion and someone puts a beer or glass of wine in your hand.
- Solution: Come up with a quick sound bite that can be relayed to anyone offering you a drink. Usually, “I’m driving” works good enough these days as most people aren’t rude enough to push you on that. You could try, “I’m hitting the gym in the morning – thanks anyway.” If you’re really getting pushed, go with the old, “I’m on medication – the doc says no drinks.”
You go to work with your gym bag, but come 6pm you’re hungry and it’s raining. You start thinking about cooking dinner, and about the dog not being fed, and all of a sudden you give in and drive home instead of the gym.
- Solution: Eat a snack around 4:30pm to tide you over until dinner. At 5pm, post on Facebook that you are going to the gym. Commit to it publically before the urge hits you to bail out.
You can do it, we can help…err…that’s the Home Depot slogan, isn’t it? Well, it applies here too!
How was your morning?
Mine was awesome. And it wasn’t by accident.
We all have choices to make every day and you can choose, right now, to make tomorrow awesome.
Here’s how you can do it:
**Disclaimer: Not all of this will fit everyone’s lifestyle. Take what you like and leave the rest.
- Prime Yourself. You can’t prime yourself while you’re sleeping, so let’s start with before you go to bed. Assuming you haven’t been drinking and are going to bed at a reasonable hour, take 10 minutes in bed to prepare yourself for tomorrow morning. Think about opening your eyes and looking at your clock. What time does it say? See the clock in your mind. Then see yourself sitting up and taking a deep breath. Continue to do this visioning exercise until your first family/work commitment. Then get some rest, because tomorrow is going to be awesome.
- Take Care of Your Body. After you rise and take a deep breath, drink a tall glass of water. Every nutritionist and physical trainer will tell you to do this. You are dehydrated after sleep, and it’s the first thing your body needs. Next, do something physical. If you don’t like to work out in the morning, that’s okay. Just take ten minutes to stretch or do some light calisthenics. By this time, you should be awake for 30 minutes and it’s time to eat a small meal. It’s called breakfast for a reason – you’re breaking a 12-13 hour fast.
- Meditate or Pray. Exercising and awakening your mind is just as important as getting your body moving. Again, this doesn’t have to be a 30-60 minute session with incense and candles. Just find a quiet, comfortable place and be present. You can pray, or focus on something specific (like your breathing), or just analyze the random thoughts running through your head. There are some great apps for your mobile device that can actually assist with this if you need help (like me).
- Be Thankful. Research tells us that people who are thankful and have gratitude are happier and have a positive outlook on life. I recommend that you keep a gratitude journal and just jot down three things that happened to you yesterday. The key here is to write what that thing was and why you are thankful for it. Just yesterday, someone told me they try to write three emails, make two phone calls, and write one note to people they are thankful for. Try doing that once a week!
- Review Your Values/Vision/Goals. That’s it. All you have to do is read them. Read them twice for good measure. Just read them and reflect on them for a minute.
- Brainstorm Your Activities. Take a moment to jot down all the things in your head that you would like to accomplish that day. Put them into categories (e.g. Personal, Work, Family, etc.). Try to rank each category’s list, putting the things that must get done at the top. Simply getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper has a calming effect.
- Review Your Schedule. Take a look at your calendar and see if there are any large commitments that may affect your productivity. Try to schedule chunks of time for meaningful work (i.e. NOT EMAIL). Apply the priming/visioning technique mentioned in the first tip – see yourself walking through the day and being very successful.
- Breathe. That’s it. Take 30 seconds, close your eyes, and take 5 deep breaths. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Nice and easy.
- Get in the Zone. This means different things for different people. But do whatever it takes for you to get hyper-focused. For me, it’s putting on my Bose noise-cancelling headphones and listening to music without words (usually ambient drum and base). When I do this, I find that I get in zone and can really crank out my tasks.
- Check-in with Yourself. Don’t let yourself go the whole day without checking back in with yourself. Lunch time is usually a good break for this. Has something got you worked up or out of whack? If so, revisit tips 2,3,4, and 8.
I truly hope you are able to accomplish tips 1-9 BEFORE opening your inbox. Resist the urge and start the day right. For me, 1-5 happens at home and takes about 45 minutes. I engage in 6-10 at work and it usually takes about 20 minutes.
I hope you find this useful. And more importantly, I hope you have an awesome day tomorrow.
-by Matt Leedham
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending an event in LA, hosting 50+ entrepreneurs from the western U.S. To wrap up the day and half of learning, we went to a dinner event in Santa Monica featuring a one hour presentation by none other than Shawn Achor, the guru of positive psychology and author of “The Happiness Advantage.”
I featured Shawn in a post a few weeks ago in December and was very surprised and happy to hear that I would get to meet him in LA.
First impression? This guy is the real deal. I had the opportunity to engage him an interesting conversation about his adventures over the last year traveling, speaking, writing, and consulting. As it turns out, he’s not only talking the talk (backed up with extensive research), but is walking the walk and can speak from experience.
Shawn covered a lot of information, but here are two things I learned:
We’re Doing It Wrong. Can you believe that our perception of happiness is wrong? Most people believe that if they can just achieve that goal, or get that promotion, or lose that weight, that then they’ll be happy. Shawn’s exhaustive research at Harvard and at Fortune 500 firms suggests just the opposite. The problem is that once we achieve a goal, our milestones for achievement get pushed further back because we want to achieve more. Therefore, we’re always chasing happiness. However, if you start by focusing on positivity and priming yourself to be happy, you will become more confident, successful, and productive. Invest in yourself first – the ROI is worth it!
Activation Energy. According to Shawn’s research, even the slightest hindrance can prevent you from doing something you know you want to do. The message is, make accomplishing your goals as easy as possible. If you want to work out in the morning, wear your gym clothes to bed. If it’s reading more, put books near your favorite sitting areas or on your bed.
Likewise, use this trick in reverse. If you want to watch less TV, Shawn gave a great example of taking out the batteries of the remote and putting them in the other room. This would mean that he would have to spend the time to go get the batteries and put them in the remote, which he would only do if he REALLY wanted to watch TV. In other words, the activation energy it would take to pick up a book on the coffee table was less than going into the other room to get the remote batteries, so he would read instead of watching TV.
You can read more about ways to stay positive and increase your happiness in the first post I wrote about Shawn’s research.
By Jaime Willis