Have you wondered how some people lead such joyful and fulfilled lives? What is the secret sauce behind their success?
After studying the behaviours of numerous successful individuals and reading a tonne of motivational and self-help books, I believe that it all boils down to pursuing empowering habits.
Successful individuals know that their time on this planet is limited. They plot their paths carefully. They focus their attention and energies on meaningful activities.
They invest in what counts, and mercilessly remove the rest.
Relentless in their pursuit of their life’s vision, mission and goals, successful folks practice empowering habits with razor sharp clarity.
So what are some of these habits?
1) Be Purpose-filled
The first and most important step is to choose your life’s work and stick to it. What is the singular most important purpose of your life? What is the overarching narrative which governs the story of your life?
If you haven’t already done so, I would strongly encourage you to spend some time reflecting, writing, and thinking about what your life’s work is. Once you have concluded what you are built to become, whittle away all other possibilities and pursue that goal with a single-minded passion.
2) Plan Your Days
Have you looked at your watch and wondered where the time has gone? I certainly had!
Everybody is given 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. How we plan each and every one of those days can make a huge difference in what we eventually achieve.
In planning your days and weeks, create a mental checklist. Visualise in your mind what the 3 or 4 most important things of each day should be and resolve to complete them. Make it concrete by writing them down on your diary.
3) Pray and Meditate
Before you plunge head first into your days, take a few minutes to seek spiritual sustenance. As a Christian, I believe that God’s providence makes a critical difference in how my day unfurls.
Regardless of your faith and beliefs, taking some time to connect spiritually through either prayer or meditation makes a lot of difference. Spend a few quiet moments to reflect upon the supernatural or just relax and empty your mind.
4) Prioritize and Trim
As your day proceeds, make it a point to prioritise what you should do. Always ask yourself quick questions such as the following:
- How does doing this contribute to my life’s work?
- What will I achieve by doing this?
- Will doing this add value to my relationships?
- Should I be doing this at this point of time?
- What are the pros and cons of this vis-a-vis that?
Once you have determined what you should – and should not – do, put your heart and soul into those activities that you chose to do. Cut away the rest and be relentless in doing so.
5) Practice Mono-tasking
Recent research has shown that doing one thing at a time may actually be more productive and fruitful than burning a few candles each time. By focusing our attention and concentrating our energies on getting a task done, we are usually better able to deliver quality work in a shorter amount of time.
To do this, disconnect from Wi Fi, close your web browser, log off your email, and turn off your phones. Unplug from the endless streams of entertainment, information, news and updates.
If you work in an office environment with colleagues around you, let them know that you are focusing on a piece of work. Hang up a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your desk or office door.
6) Be Fully Present
When you are with others, seek to be fully present. Give them your complete attention, practice active listening, and participate fully in the discussion.
Now, I know that this is extremely hard to do in our crazy multi-tasked obsessed world, especially with smart phones beckoning us to check on our status updates every few minutes or so. One way to minimise digital distractions is to switch our smart phones to flight mode, or just leave them in our bags.
7) Practice Mindfulness
Often in the heat of the action, we end up merely reacting to our situations. We flit from one task to the next, without really thinking. By the time we regain our senses, we realise that we have just wasted hours of our time doing something unproductive.
Embrace mindfulness and take back control. Take a step back every now and then.
Think about what you are really doing. Reflect upon your actions. Assess what you have done and consider what you can to make it better the next time around.
By adopting mindfulness, we can elevate ourselves from our emotions and switch from a reactive to a proactive mode.
8) Pursue Learning
Squeeze learning opportunities into each and every single day of your life.
Make a mental note of any teachable moments that you have encountered and jot it down somewhere. Take copious quantities of notes whenever you are attending a presentation or a meeting. Keep a journal.
Substitute smart phone surfing with reading during your daily commutes. Immerse yourself fully in the words of your favourite author. Think about any insights you may have gleaned and how these can be applied to improve your life.
9) Get Physical
Nothing beats the mood and energy boosting effects of exercise and sports.
Make it a habit to include some physical activity in your life. Plan your days such that you can allocate 30 minutes to one hour of exercise three or more times a week. The brain and body benefits from exercise are so immense that it easily overcompensates for the time and effort spent in making exercise a part of your day.
10) Practice Makes Perfect
Finally, ingrain these behaviours into your life. Make them life habits.
Begin by setting reminders in your smartphone. You can also schedule them into your calendar as gentle reminders throughout your day.
If pursuing all of these behaviours are difficult from the onset, consider adopting a phased approach. Begin with the first few habits that are easiest to achieve, and progress upwards.
Let me know if these life habits work for you, and I’d love to hear your suggestions for improvement.