By the time you read this, we will officially be 3/4 of the way done with 2018. What do you have to show for it?
If you set goals for this year and have actually hit some of them (or at least hit some incremental goals on the way to a bigger goal), congratulations—you may be in the minority. Even those of us who have hit some goals this year may be struggling again. We struggle because we lose our purpose. We hit a goal, or give up on it altogether, and then we just hit “enter” on our default programs. Wake up, go to work, maybe work out, go home, eat, go to sleep, repeat. This is not to say that having a routine is a bad thing; routines can be one of the best ways of managing our time and being the most effective version of ourselves. But, a lot of us have crappy routines—routines that have not been thought out, lack direction and purpose, and just keep us “busy”. Hopefully, this article can help with that.
January 1st is a funny day to me. Everywhere you look, there is an aura of hope. Social media is so uncharacteristically positive, that it’s actually nauseating. People who were just complaining about something last week (take your pick: traffic, my job, my mother in-law, the latest clown in the white house, the weather, etc.) are all of a sudden the most inspired and determined people you have ever met. Don’t get me wrong, here. I am not trying to mock anyone. I myself get caught up in it every time. You cannot deny that January 1st always feels like a clean slate. This year you have a brand new canvas, and you will finally craft your masterpiece. But time always beats you down, doesn’t it? Time has the will to keep passing, and it will keep passing, despite what any of us do. What can we do to keep ourselves motivated?
Ah…there is the first question, and it is, without a doubt, the wrong one to ask. Our friend and author Marcus Aurelius Anderson recently shared a quote that gets to the heart of what is really important. He said, “Forget trying to be MOTIVATED AF…learn to be DISCIPLINED AF if you want to achieve your goals.” This is what it is all about! When I think of successful people, and when I think of my own successes so far in life, if I had to use adjectives to describe these people and what they did, they would be words like “disciplined”, “consistent”, “relentless”, “patient”, or “methodical”. Sure, being disciplined and doing the right things does give you momentum and confidence, but there will be times in life where you simply will not have the motivation. In times like this, being disciplined is what will keep you moving. One thing I will add to this is the importance of constantly reviewing your progress and your processes.
Time for "Spring Cleaning”
What I mean by spring cleaning is simple. Every quarter, take some time to evaluate what you have done over the past 3 months. Look at it from a monthly, weekly and daily perspective. What has worked? What has not worked? Some may scoff at the idea of spending valuable time to look back at what you have done, and actually taking the time to evaluate yourself. I will say that I am the most confident and the most at ease when I slow down for just a bit and evaluate myself before moving forward. For example, every Sunday, I am making it a point to lay out my week in my planner, by the day, down to the hour. I cannot underscore this enough—this is when I am at my BEST. Waking up on a Monday morning and having my whole week planned out for me is amazing. Sure, there are surprises and fires to put out during the week but overall, my week is planned and I am the most effective when I do this. Sunday is your last little break before it gets real again, so I can see why some would rebel at the thought of wasting valuable down time to get into “work mode”. In reality, this process takes anywhere from 30-60 minutes, and the return on this investment is much greater than the investment itself.
How Does it Work?
I will share mine with you all, because I want you to succeed. But before I do, I want to share with you that for me, one of the most cathartic processes is writing practical articles that can help people be more effective in every area of their lives. The reason for this is that many times, the ideas for these articles come from a learning experience I have recently had and want to share. I have found that one of the best ways to get outside of myself and stay in a place of gratitude is to be mindful of one fact—that this is bigger than me. So just know that when I share personal details, or effective processes I have used or recently discovered, it benefits me as much as I would hope it benefits you. So here it is. My Spring Cleaning. I have 5 top priorities in my life and I really try to bring everything back to them. These priorities are:
- Spiritual and emotional health
- My marriage
- My sons
- My professional life
- My health and personal development
From there, I can better identify what I have done/haven’t done, and what I should start/stop, do more of/do less of.
- Morning routine: meditation, daily devotional, daily stoic reading, daily journaling, train at 6 or 7 am. I am a pro at this, and most days I get this right. Evening routine: NEEDS to improve. I will add journaling to my evening routine to be able to better evaluate my days—did I accomplish what I had to that day? I will also put my phone to charge by no later than 8pm to minimize nightly distractions.
- I will do a better job the next three months of being more intentional with my daily responsibilities around the house (washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen after I cook us dinner, being patient with the boys at night when my wife is exhausted from doing it all day, etc). This is very important to my wife, so I need to make it more important. I will plan out our date nights for the next 3-4 months as much as possible (we have done this in the past and it has been great).
- I will focus on playing outside with my boys for 15-20 minutes each afternoon. I have done this in the past, but I will be more consistent with it. I will have 1 day a month with each of my boys. One on one time with each of my sons is very important to me and it helps me identify if there are any needs that I am not meeting as their father. Plus, I want to have as much quality time with them while they are young because 1) time flies and 2) tomorrow is not promised.
- I will plan every week on Sundays and continue to build better habits of keeping myself organized and on task. I will follow through on my 10 goals for the next year and stay on task with my processes to get there. If I do this, I will hit some major goals I have set for myself.
- I will continue to train 5-6 days a week, stay on plan with my diet, and make sure to be in bed by 9:30-10pm every night.
That is an example. I have written these in my planner to have them as reminders and keep me honest.
Call to Action
As soon as you finish reading this article, do this right away. As Brian Tracy puts it, Eat that Frog. When you are done, add a reminder to repeat this process every three months.
- Make a list of your top priorities and goals in life, and try to do everything in this exercise through the scope of those priorities.
- Take a look at your daily routine over the past 4 months.
- Do you have an effective morning routine?
- Do you have an effective evening routine?
- What went well for you?
- What processes did you have in place to lead to that outcome?
- What didn’t go so well for you?
- What processes did you have in place to lead to that outcome?
- What new goals do you have (if the goals are the same, are your daily, weekly and monthly actions in line with this goal?)
- What should you do more of, or re-commit to?
- What should you do less of, or quit altogether?
We would love to hear about your successes with this