If you’re like me, you’re committed to doing well at work and succeeding at life. However, sometimes you struggle with being able to focus on the right things, or you feel like you don’t have enough time to complete everything on your plate. You get to a state of paralysis and stop making progress.
I went through the same thing, probably for years, until I finally decided to do something about it. I refocused me energy and restructured my workflow so that I could create more of a margin for the things that really matter to me.
Here are my 3 easy habits to achieving greater success.
Step 1. Reset Your Attitude
It’s amazing how difficult it is for us to believe we can achieve something we want, but then it’s overwhelmingly easy to make excuses for why we don’t achieve anything.
We anchor our failures on some negative events in our lives that prohibited us from that promotion, launching a business, owning a home, being wealthy, falling in love – basically any meaningful pursuit. We take the easy path to failure and tend to avoid new direction.
Where we often don’t place any blame is on ourselves and our attitudes. Your attitude can play a crucial role in the outcome of your pursuits, and improving your attitude should be your first step to reaching your goals.
All successful people that I know are confident people. They don’t shy away from admitting to and embracing their accomplishments, regardless of size. They celebrate wins each and every day, giving themselves credit for the good that they’ve contributed.
An easy mistake we often make is directing our attention in areas we’ve fallen short, drawing our energy in the wrong direction. It’s important to employ a critical eye on projects and pursuits that didn’t pan out as expected, however, it’s more important to not allow the negative to distract you from your goals. So how do we do accomplish this?
Action Step #1: Celebrate Your Wins
Change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, and it takes courage to commit to change. I challenge you to take 90 days and commit to the first step in reaching your goals by celebrating the small things every single day. Give yourself credit for three things you did well during the day, and write these in a daily journal1 every night.
Here is an example from my personal journal last night where I simply wrote out three accomplishments that, at the end of the day, I felt really great about. There were obviously some negative aspects of the day, but why would you go to bed with those living in my subconscious? Instead, jot down what you’re proud of and maybe expand a little bit on the why. This is a five minute investment that will provide you with very unexpected, positive returns.
Action Step #2: Set the Tone Each Morning
I wake up early every single morning, including the weekends. My day starts between 4:30 and 5:00, well before the morning energy of our house2 makes its way through. This is my favorite time of the day and the most indicative of how the day will shape up.
The first thing I do is grab my coffee and open up my journal to last night’s entry. Going through my recent wins and understanding the positive impact I had on yesterday is an inspiring reflection of what’s really going on in my life, not just my work. It helps me to take a step back and stay committed to putting my energy towards the things that really matter and not wasting energy on areas that simply don’t – and shouldn’t – matter to me.
From here, I jot down a list of the things I’m grateful for right now. I don’t look at my goals, I don’t set my day’s to-dos, I just remind myself what’s going right and why it’s important.
I have never tried this before, but since implementing this daily habit my life has changed for the better. What I’ve learnt so far from this exercise is that it probably does not matter so much what you write down. What matters is where you put your mental energy and focus your attention. Dedicating yourself to seeking what’s good is simply a magnet for exactly that.
You’ll learn that no matter how hard you think things are, if you just center your mind on the positive and truly celebrate what you’ve accomplished, big and small, you will be amazed at how different the world looks and how well you’re doing.
Step 2: Be Persistent
Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men of talent. * – Calvin Coolidge
President Coolidge was onto something here. How many educated, smart, talented and trained people do you know or have heard of that simply couldn’t see their goals through? What does it take to actually achieve something meaningful? Persistence. That’s all.
Obviously it’s not easy. The will and grit to keep going when the wheels are falling off is hard to find, even for the most determined of us. However, there are a few ways you can train yourself to be more tenacious with your work and life.
Don’t make excuses when things fail. Accept the responsibility and the weight of what you’re striving to achieve, embrace it and then willingly absorb the impact of your efforts. Whether you manage a team of 100 or just yourself, if you’re the person tasked with solving a problem, be persistent in your resolution and take responsibility for the end result – good and bad. Admit your mistakes, don’t blame others, and celebrate your wins.
Change Your Self Image
Reflecting back on your attitude, how do you see yourself? How do you think others see you? To be resolute, you must first believe that quitting simply is not an option. Easing the burden and doing less is not an option. Failure is an option, but to fail willingly is not in your nature. You have to believe in yourself. If you don’t have the confidence in yourself to know that you will persevere when things are rough, then you shouldn’t expect anyone else to have faith in you.
Everyone has heard of the phrase “No Risk. No Reward.”, but how many of us really believe in that and take the necessary risks when we need to? You know what the reward is, you established the plan to reach it, and now you’ve run into a roadblock where you may have to risk losing in order to win. Take it.3 Have the courage to begin a new course or to stay on the same course. Go all in on yourself and confidently go in the right direction.
Step 3: Take a Break
I envy our two year old. That little fart gets to take a two to three hour nap every single day. Each one. I try and take a nap almost every day, typically in 20 – 30 minute bursts.
Successfully managing your energy is one of the most important skills you can master. Knowing when you need to rest, and then taking responsibility for that rest is an important action. My son and I are not the only nappers out there, countless leaders dedicate time to recharging and reaping the rewards.
Three Major Gains from Napping
- Increased Alertness – Instead of pumping your body with chemical laden energy drinks, just take a 20 minute nap. The National Sleep Foundation recommends as little as 20-30 minutes to increase alertness in the period directly following the nap. You may even enjoy extended alertness further into the day.
- Increased Productivity – You may be like me and find yourself most productive at the beginning of your day. You’re rested and your mind is ready to move. As the day goes on, our bodies and minds become drained and sluggish, and a nap has shown to move you beyond where you were before you dozed off, a quick recharge.
- Relieve Stress & Stop Burnout – Our culture is one of movement. Everything is in the now, and everyone needs something from you all the time. We’re hyperconnected, and our bodies were not meant to go through that day in and day out. With Heart Disease as the number one cause of death in America, and stress being a driver of it, eliminating stress as much as possible should be a priority. A little siesta reduces your risk or heart disease and stress.
Some Napping Tips from a Pro
When my wife and I had our first son, I stayed home with him for a few years. During that time I became a Professional Napper. For me personally, naps restore my energy, help me to regain focus and clarity, and just make me feel good. Stress is a part of life, and a daily nap seems to flush a lot of stress right out of my system.
I split my time working from home and from my office, but regardless, I’m a couch napper. No blankets, no pillow, just a couch and an alarm is all I need. It took me a while to learn to fall asleep quickly, but once you do, 20 minute naps are easy to fit into your day. I just set my timer for 25 minutes and usually end up snoozing for 20 of them. Here are some recommendations to make the most out of a short period.
- Cut the Lights – Light is our body’s cue to wake up, so pull the shades and shut off your lights. If you aren’t able to draw any blinds, grab a cheap sleeping mask for less than $10 on Amazon and have your sleep delivered. When your nap is over, crank the light back up.
- Keep it Short – Remember, this is a nap, not a coma. You need to keep these in the 20-30 minute range for the best results. If you go into a deeper sleep, you’ll actually reverse the effect and wake up more tired than before your nap. You also don’t want to hinder your sleep later tonight. It’s best to set an alarm and avoid the snooze button. When the alarm goes off, stand up, stretch and get back to your day.
- Make it Routine – Try to take a nap at the same time everyday so that your body can acclimate. Trust me, it won’t work if you try this at sporadic times – they are best when on a schedule. I try to take mine right after lunch or at about 4:45pm and get the energy burst before the boys are home. Schedule them in your calendar if that’s what it takes.
- Bonus Tip: Drink Coffee Before – If you’re an afternoon or evening coffee drinker like me, have a cup of coffee right before your nap. It takes about 30 – 45 minutes for caffeine to do its thing, so if you’re worried about waking after your nap, this will give you a boost. However, if coffee in the afternoon hurts your sleep at night, then this is a disastrous idea 😉
These are three simple habits you can choose to employ to be more successful this year – focus on your attitude, be persistent and take a few naps! You can start any one of these three things today, but the simplest and most rewarding is to celebrate today’s wins. I encourage you to try this exercise tonight and build momentum for tomorrow morning. Keep at it for another 89 days and let me know how it goes!
- My favorite journal for writing is the Maruman Mnemosyne 195. You can get a three pack for $20 on Amazon “3 Pack of Maruman Notebooks”. ↩
- If you haven’t already done so, head over to my about page to learn more about me, my family and what this site’s all about. ↩
- There is a difference between taking a risk and being stupid. ↩