Laying your foundation for keeping it together
"When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates" - Thomas S. Monson
It's a juggling act
I've just read "Can't hurt me," a book by amazing athlete, Navy Seal, Ultra runner/triathlete and world record holder, David Goggins. In his 43 years of existence, he overcame some extraordinary challenges (physical abuse, racism, and a heart defect just to name a few) to repeatedly achieve seemingly superhuman physical feats. Yet, despite of all his physical victories, he's about to embark on his third marriage.
I'm not judging. Just illustrating how tenuous the balancing act known as life can be. Under-commit in one area of your life and you don't realise your true potential. Over-commit and some other area falls in a heap, potentially diverting your life off course in a big way. Surely, this notion of a perfectly balanced existence is the proverbial modern-day life unicorn!
Granted, there is no 'on-size-fits-all' perfect approach that guarantees success, but with a little effort and a little help, anyone can attain some level of balance. Anything you do would be better than doing nothing.
I first came across the notion of 'gamifying' life from a book, titled "Warrior," by Garry J White (WARNING: If you plan to read it, be aware that he's pretty colourful with his language.). Anyway, I adapted his 'Core 4' system to develop my own habit tracking spreadsheet simply because I wanted to incorporate a lot more than 4 habits into my daily routine.
What resulted was a spreadsheet (I called it my "Daily Accountability Sheet") that is broken down into areas, which I've been referring to as our Core Habitual Rhythm (CHR) - Relationship, Physical Health, Faith, Lifelong Learning and Finance. These 'pillars' formed the foundation for me to logically come up with the things I needed/wanted to include in my daily routine.
So, with the use of this tool, these were the steps I took to design my daily routine of wannabe habits.
Came up with a one liner representing my goal for the year in each area of my CHR. Example: "15 kgs lighter by Christmas 2019."
Identified two or three daily activities for each pillar that I felt would make a real difference in achieving my goal from Step 1. Example: "Exercise 30 minutes." or "Avoid sugary drinks - soft drink, fruit juice, cordial etc." I made sure that each of the activities would take no longer than an hour to complete to minimise the mental barrier I'd need to overcome. That said, when performing the activities, I was fully focused. No short cuts! No cheating!
Scheduled each of the activities in my calendar (you can use a physical diary or the calendar feature that comes with most of the popular email services e.g. Outlook, Gmail etc.) and set prompts to do them. I made a mental commitment that I'd do them as scheduled in my calendar and not leave it till later, because it'd be highly likely that I won't get it done.
At the end of each day I spent 15-20 minutes assessing how I did for the day, giving myself half a point for each activity I managed to complete and writing a corresponding journal entry to describe what I did, how I felt, who was affected and how I could do better next time. In cases where I failed to fulfill the listed activity, I wrote down what the cause was and what I was going to do to remove that barrier next time.
Before you get too excited, high-fiving yourself in the mirror, the reality is that this is only the start. We've only, figuratively speaking, provided the spark to a fire you want to light. You need to find the big logs that will get you to actually start, and after that, keep it going until things start to become somewhat automatic.
If you manage to go the distance, maintaining this pattern for at least 3 weeks, there's a pretty good chance that not doing them will feel weird. When that happens, Congratulations! It means that you have your very own CHR, and even more importantly, you would have transformed to an upgraded version of your former self. From then on, it's a process of refining, refreshing and pushing the boundaries of your CHR over time. You'll be amazed at what you'll be capable of.
But first things first! Your challenge (if you choose to accept it) is to download a copy of the Habit Tracker spreadsheet (CLICK HERE) and, using the steps outlined above (or using your own approach), complete it. Drop me line to let me know how you get on.