You know our ethos by now – achieving personal excellence daily. A major underlying part of that is developing the essential daily habits to achieve your goals. As the saying goes, “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” These 5 essential daily habits will ensure that you stay on the track to success and personal excellence:
1. PLAN & REVIEW
If you want to get somewhere, you need a plan. Would you go for a hike in unfamiliar territory and expect to arrive at your desired destination without having one? Similarly, if you want your life to end up where you want it to, you need to chart the course. And just like hiking, it doesn’t make much sense to pull out the map only after you’re lost. Thus, planning your day — the night before — is essential to keeping on track, towards achieving the goals you have set for yourself.
To that end, you must also review your day and compare it to the plan you put in place. As Peter Drucker said, “what gets measured gets managed.” By measuring your actual day against your plan for it, you can see how well you did — and, importantly, where you fell short. It is only by reflecting on our day that we can set ourselves up for success. Perhaps you didn’t get all your work done because you stayed up too late the night before. Write that down to avoid in the future. Or maybe you were more productive than you usually are because you started the day with meditation and journaling — write that down too! By repeating this process each evening, you’ll quickly learn the patterns and processes that work best for you.
2. ACTIVE GOAL-SETTING
Another of essential daily habits is active goal setting. It is obvious that you must take time to lay out your goals and the steps you need to take to achieve them. And, as you probably known, your goals must be SMART to be effective: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-constrained. However, active goal-setting is more than this. You must re-assess daily your goals to ensure they remain relevant to your desired destination. Having an over-arching stretch goal or BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) is helpful. Your BHAG should excite and encourage you to keep going. And all other decisions and actions you undertake should be evaluated against whether it will bring your closer to – or farther from – achieving it. To that end, it is a good practice to plan three specific tasks each day to move you closer to the accomplishment of your goals and BHAG.
3. SYSTEMATIZE, STANDARDIZE, & BOOK-END YOUR DAY
It has been scientifically proven that your attention-span and brain power are finite resources. You can only process so much information in a day before your brain begins suffering fatigue. Every decision you make, however little it may be, drains a bit of this energy. Thus, by removing decisions you need to make via systematizing and standardizing your day, you free up mental capacity for more important tasks. It may be difficult to standardize and systematize your entire day, but consider book-ending it — that is, follow the same routines each morning and evening. For instance, my morning starts with 20 minutes of meditation, journaling, and then creative work. I also eat the same breakfast each day. At night, I take magnesium l-threonate, a glass of ACV+tea, brush my teeth and then read something inspirational before bed. Not only does this free up my mental capacity, but it has the added benefit of forcing me to follow a routine I developed to improve and grow. Since it’s a habit, I don’t have to think about it and there is no decision to be made — it’s just what I do. And that’s another one of the essential daily habits.
4. GRATITUDE, APPRECIATION
Expressing gratitude and appreciation for the positive things in your life has an enormous transformational effect. We’re often conditioned to think about what we don’t have — leaving us a feeling of emptiness and dissatisfaction. You need to stop and smell the roses. You need to realize that you are alive and that is a gift. Of course, not everything will always be going great — but there are always things to appreciate in your life. Instead of getting caught up in an internal dialogue of what you don’t have, you break the cycle with appreciation. By focusing on what you do have, you shift your mentality from one of scarcity to one of abundance.
5. GET A COACH, MENTOR, OR ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER
The last of the essential daily habits is being accountable to someone else. I like to think I’m a good boss — very understanding — but sometimes I’m taken advantage of. And most often, I am the one taking advantage of my kindness. “Oh, you didn’t complete X today for this reason or that reason? That’s ok, you can do it tomorrow” I would tell myself. Well, it’s a slippery slope. Accept one too many excuses from yourself and you’ll never get anything accomplished. That’s why having an accountability partner — someone who you can confide in and will make you stick to goals — is essential. At work, it may be a colleague. At home, it may be a spouse or parent. If you don’t have anyone in your circle who can help — then try a website like coach.me to find someone who can. Or if the coaching thing isn’t right for you, try stickk.com, where you commit to sending money to a charity you despise if you don’t follow through with your goal — this negative reinforcement is reportedly very effective.