If you’re anywhere above your teenage years, you’ve already discovered that changing habits is tough. Our brains are equipped with defense mechanisms designed to deter us from doing anything that may take us out of our routine and comfort zone. In other words, we tend to be risk averse rather than risk takers.
If you have developed a number of “good” habits in your life, more power to you. But, chances are, if you’re the type of person that is constantly looking for the next challenge and not afraid of taking a few extra risks, you won’t even have enough time to ‘settle’ and grow into any old habits. The moment you realize that the pain inflicted by your boring daily routine is greater than the fear of facing your next challenge, that’s when you will start to change again.
The first step to continue improving your life and becoming a better version of yourself is to get rid of those habits that are dragging you down and adopt new habits that will empower you in the future. In my case, these are five behavioral habits that I’ve learned to keep in mind in the past few years.
Think of Time (Not Money) as Your Most Valuable Asset
Time is one of our few limited assets in life. Every day that goes by, we chip away a little bit of it. We only have a finite amount of it every day. Yet, we still have 168 hours every week. Think about it. I don’t care who you are, where you live or how wealthy or not wealthy you are, the truth is that when it comes to time, we ALL have 168 hours each week. That’s a whole lot of time for us to find ourselves ever saying “I don’t have time” but it is also a finite amount of time that we can’t afford to waste.
We make time for what is important to us. If you really want to achieve something in life, you need to put that time to work for you rather than letting it disappear like water going down the drain. Nowadays, you see a lot of people quitting or worse yet, not even getting started with a new project because they feel it takes too long to see results. What really happens is that they fail to recognize that the process is just as important as the end result. Spend your time polishing your process, enjoy every minute of it, and results will come.
One good practice for me is viewing your time as money. I know, we all have heard the old cliché “Time is Money” and there’s a reason for it. Where and how you invest (or waste) your time will make all the difference when it comes to recover your investment. Sure, you can attempt to do everything yourself to save a few bucks, but that just means that you don’t value your own time and sooner or later, that will catch up with you.
I prefer not to waste my time doing something that someone else could do for me. I’d rather focus on what I’m best at -those tasks that nobody can do better than me- so that in the process, I can also keep everybody else busy and happy doing what they do best.
Start Your Day Early
When you read biographies of most successful people that you also admire, you discover that the majority of them have one good habit in common. They all tend to wake up very early, around 5:00 AM or thereabouts. But don’t take my word for it. Here are a few examples (29 to be exact).
For me, the best part of waking up early is not so much being more productive. Instead, is the feeling that I’m beating the rest of the world on my own terms, enjoying the silence with a cup of coffee while quietly planning my day ahead of everyone else. By the time the ‘official’ business day starts, I’m completely caught up with work, done with my fitness, meditation and ready to go.
Break Up Your Long-Term Goals Into Short -Term Milestones
Setting up long-term goals is a great way to keep us focused and motivated in our search for a successful life. However, when it comes to achieving personal goals, I prefer to divide them into a series of short-term milestones that will provide me with a great deal of satisfaction along the way. Remember, it’s all about enjoying the process and the journey just as much as the end result. I must admit that I’m more of a process driven person than a results driven person.
The other day I was listening to an interview with Jameis Winston, Quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. When asked if the Buccaneers will be Play-off contenders, he simply replied that he was just trying to be 1-0 each week. What a wonderful way to live in the moment! Why worry about week six or week 10 when all you need to do is focus on being 1-0 each week? If you’re able to do that, the rest will take care of itself.
The same applies for our team at work when it comes to managing longer term projects. Waiting until the project is finally completed to “celebrate” will just wear you and your team down. Celebrating individual milestones along the way, will keep everyone constantly motivated and ready for the next step.
Invest In Your Own Health
In your quest to become a high achiever, it’s easy to slowly start disregarding and neglecting those little bits of time that you used to spend taking care of your own health… you know, those good old habits. Whether it be eating healthy food (versus fast food), working out, playing sports, enjoying your hobbies, having fun with your friends or finding time to meditate and clear your thoughts.
One of my biggest challenges in the past (and still to date) is to convince myself that I don’t need to be working all the time to be successful. It might seem surprising that being at peace with yourself when you are not working (or even thinking) can actually result in more success. Being a “workaholic” will just take a toll on you in the long run. Maybe that’s why the word itself has negative connotations. Being a focused person won’t hurt you though. If you’re able to eliminate distractions while you’re working, you will find a lot more time to spend doing other things that you also enjoy.
Know Your Limits
Given my background and passion for auto racing, I often make race-life analogies. It’s sort of my own work-life balance.
In a race, you’re constantly trying to go as fast as possible until you reach the point where you feel the car is starting to lose traction. When you get to that point, you slow down just a bit to regain traction. Then you push again until you start losing traction again. And the process repeats itself again and again, turn after turn and lap after lap. And while doing that, you are also getting better and better each time. You’re in the zone and you feel at one with your car.
Life is not much different. You don’t get anything by wishing it. When you play it too safe, you’re taking the biggest risk of your life. The risk of being unaccomplished. But you need to learn when to push and when to back off just a bit. Learn to keep your traction and to keep getting better each time. Or else, you will just crash.
When you’re facing your next challenge, remember this: don’t wish it was easier; wish you were better.
Thank you for reading. Until next time, this is Manuel Gil del Real (MGR)