GETTING STARTED – AND STAYING THE COURSE
In some of my other articles, I spoke about the compound effect, slight edge philosophy, and mastery. If massive success can be as simple as harnessing the power of incremental daily improvements, then why isn’t everyone doing the obvious?
Jeff Olson’s conclusion sums it all up for me – he said that people don’t stick to these daily disciplines because whatever you don’t do today won’t kill you immediately. We all know that eating fast-food daily is a sure way of thrashing our health, but eating that extra pack of French fries now won’t kill you. Well, at least, not immediately. On the contrary, if you knew you would get a heart attack and drop dead on the spot from that next pack of fries, you will make a very different choice.
Creating a sense of urgency for yourself
If what is easy to do is equally easy not to do, how can we motivate ourselves to take and stick to that simple course of action? The simple solution that works for me is to decide to live every day as if it is my last.
Ask yourself, if you were to die tomorrow, would you still do what you are doing today? Chances are, there will be unfulfilled wishes, neglected relationships, and a ton of other things that you have temporarily shelved because it won’t kill you to put it off for another day. Making a conscious effort to live each day as if it was your precious last day helps to put priorities in perspective.
True, you won’t be able to accomplish everything today. And whatever baby step that you start on may not seem exciting, sexy or ground-breaking. This sense of urgency can however propel you to start taking action now on what’s really important. Compound this over time, and you may very well wake up one day realizing that you are living your life exactly the way you want it, and that you would change nothing even if tomorrow was indeed your last.
Establishing routines, habits and tracking your life
At some point in our lives, we all had great ideas that we started on but didn’t follow through. As Jeff said, ‘it isn’t that the actions are wrong. It’s that people don’t keep doing them’. What I found immensely useful was to establish routines and tracking mechanisms that gave me focus, clarity and encouragement.
Of the various books, audios and tips that I’ve pored through, 2 of them stood out for me as the simplest but most impactful. They are Robin Sharma’s 4 game-changing habits (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMnSRgR-uQM) and Mark McKeon’s Go Zone concept. I tailored their recommendations for my lifestyle and this is what my 2013 routine has looked like so far:
- I started the year with a 1 page plan (Robin Sharma) that crystallized my priorities and focus for the year;
- I start my day at 5.30am every morning with my holy hour (20mins exercise, 20mins learning and 20mins journaling/ review);
- After sending my daughter to school, I have my 2 hour Go-Zone (to get the most important things done without distractions or excuse).
This means that by 9am when most people start their day, I have already finished a significant chunk of my critical work and priorities. There’s more than enough time throughout the week to fit in personal and family time, my weekly design system, 3 additional gym sessions and many other tasks.
Some people tell me that this routine is onerous. On hindsight, I’ve found it a lot less onerous to have short bursts of clear and intentional activity, compared to full days of busyness that gets you nowhere. More importantly, the daily and weekly review reminds me of the amount of progress being made, helps me refine my course and keeps me going.
‘Once you start tracking your life, your attention will be focused on the smallest things you are doing right, as well as the smallest things you are doing wrong’ – Darren Hardy
Just get started
The routine I shared here may or may not work for you. The key is to find something simple that is meaningful yet painless for you, and just get started. You can always refine it as you move along. Your day to start is today, your moment to kick it off is now.
I look forward to hear your success stories and insights.
To the life you’ve always wanted,