You might have noticed I talk a lot about habits on this blog and whether they are good or bad. Obviously, any activity that produces positive results with little to no downside is something you want to incorporate into your life on a regular basis, be it daily, monthly or even annually. The danger of habits and routines is that they can become stale, allowing us to coast on autopilot while bigger opportunities pass us by. We’re not aware we could be achieving these better results, perhaps even in a shorter period of time, because we are so focused on completing our normal rituals that bring us comfort, familiarity and maybe still some degree of success.
This post is not about breaking out of ruts or adding more spontaneity to your life. Rather, it’s about identifying those positive actions that can add a dose of strength, insight and hopefully opportunity to an otherwise ordinary day. These opportunities come in all forms. Adding a note to your child’s lunch that tells them to have a great day, subscribing (and reading!) to three trusted industry-related blogs, eating a meatless diet once a week, scheduling an hour of time every Friday to follow up on any business left unfinished during busier hours. These are all positive habits that cost nearly nothing but, if crafted over time, can produce significant results.
It’s not the adoption of the actual habit that you should be proud of. Instead, you want to focus on why you’ve chosen to inject this particular project – however big or small – into your regularly scheduled life. Do a few test runs. Determine the appropriate amount, duration and time of day that produces the most effective results. For example, maybe your child is embarrassed to pull out a note from Mom at lunch five days a week, but would be really encouraged by that same letter if he found it in his hockey bag before a big game. Maybe your mornings are just too packed to skim the industry’s latest headlines, but arriving a few minutes early to a meeting provides just enough time to settle in and absorb the pertinent information.
Continue to craft and hone the habit once it’s established, remaining unafraid to alter or altogether drop any activity that no longer produces viable results. Chances are there is another parallel opportunity that can harvest the same crops.
I recently came across a few examples of how effective it could be to incorporate just a small exercise into the everyday office environment. One woman did a set of squats twice a day everyday for a month, while another did 10 pushups everyday for a month. Not only did the women note they felt stronger physically, but their confidence had grown as well.
The benefits didn’t stop there. As I mentioned above, these women didn’t simply commit to doing an activity at certain intervals and leave it at that. Rather, they discovered and corrected weaknesses in their forms, tried different variations to prevent the exercise from going stale and pushed themselves to do more intervals with deeper movements. They persevered on days when they didn’t feel like doing it, and took it one rep at a time when they really didn’t think they could get through the whole set. These women also set calendar reminders in Outlook at a pre-determined hour to prevent them from getting “too busy” or simply “forgetting” to accomplish this task. There was no valid excuse to skip a day, as other tasks were scheduled around this activity!
This is just one example of a small, positive habit producing large, positive results. Think about the minor changes you can make in your life, career and relationships, then begin to integrate them in a meaningful way. I’m very confident that, if you stick to it, you’ll be glad you made these changes one month from now!