If you've been listening to my podcast or reading my blogs you'll know that I like to sprinkle elements of philosophy, mindfulness and self improvement throughout - no, this is not for reasons of self indulgence, but has to do with the fact that when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship, one can not effectively perform unless the mind, body and spirit are attuned to the task at hand.
With this post however, I'd like to temporarily depart from thoughts on corporate innovation and share one of my own practices that has had a profound impact on the quality of my professional and personal life - and I hope that by sharing it that it may in some small way have a positive effect on your life also.
As the host of a podcast, you might imagine that I listen to a lot of podcasts too. Peter Diamandis' Exponential Wisdom, The Tim Ferris Show, Lewis Howes' The School of Greatness, HBR IdeaCast, Planet Money, Inside Quest, Bulletproof Radio, IDEO Futures, Go & Grow, Waking Up with Sam Harris, Onnit's Total Human Optimization and The Zig Ziglar Show are on regular rotation on my iPhone.
It was an episode on the Zig Ziglar Show, named after the late, legendary salesman and motivational speaker, where I stumbled upon a guest admit that when asked what the fastest path to success was at a conference in Australia, he blurted out the first thing that came to mind, which was - "replace bad habits with good habits".
How true this is.
As an avid experimenter, I decided to spend some time thinking objectively about what my bad habits were and sought to replace these with good habits.
In order for this post to have any impact, I thought I'd share a list of good habits I worked to instil from which you can easily also infer which bad habits I sought to replace!
Bad Habits Turned Good
- Do the most challenging and highest impact things first
- Check email and social media only three times a day (after my morning gym, meditation and shower routine, at 12pm and finally at 5pm)
- Commit to at least one outing each weekend with friends and/or family
- Don't make plans that you can't keep / keep plans that you make
- Judge less with a view to not judge at all - people are all on their own journey and often our grievances or annoyance with others is a reflection of something we are unhappy with about ourselves. Accept what you can't control.
- Consider FOMO - fear of missing out - an opportunity for solitude, as time to learn, grow, become more introspective and self aware, see things clearer and make better decisions. Realise that the grass is always greener!
- Do not eat any carbs after 8pm and try to limit intake at this time to small amounts of protein or good fats
- Don't waste time on people you see no future with - whether this is at a personal or professional level
- Go first - say "good morning!" or "good evening!" first to strangers when going for a walk say, in a park, and making eye contact
- Attend at least one meetup or networking event a week and always introduce yourself to at least 5 people
- Spend more time speaking about and asking questions of others - more time listening and less time talkingStop chasing that toxic relationship
- Be a generally positive, warm presence around friends, family, colleagues, clients and strangersTurn complaints into opportunities for improvement
- Turn impatience into time to reflect
- Accept what you can't control, influence only what you can - know the difference
- Whenever you get the urge to do something that is ultimately negative for the soul - such as browsing through social media mindlessly - replace it with a positive habit such as going for a walk, reading, watching a TED talk, calling a friend or family member you haven't spoken to in a while, listening to an audiobook or a podcast, going out to dinner with someone, spending time with a significant other, meditating, stretching, reflecting...
- Show gratitude for 5 things, no matter how great or small, every night - it could be something as simple as bumping into an old friend, your morning coffee or something a little more holistic such as your health
- Notice negative thoughts as just that, passing thoughts, and not an extension of your mind - watch them come and go, don't become them
- Don't drink a single drop of alcohol on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday
Of course, like any action, whether good or bad, it takes time for it to become a habit. Conventional wisdom suggests that 21 days of successive behaviour is enough to form a new habit but no doubt factors such as intensity of action, original motivation and other circumstances might affect this.
Of course you must be kind to yourself and accept that sometimes you will slip up but I can say that even the habit of consciously trying to right all of these wrongs, has a positive impact. And while you might put together your list of good and bad, it's something you might want to revisit on a weekly, monthly or in my case, quarterly basis.
As human beings, it's easy to just accept our bad habits as "just who we are" - but who we are is something we can change.
The first step is to determine who we want to be, what the bad habits preventing us from getting there are, and then which good habits we might want to replace them with to become that person.
Thus concludes my mini-rant if you will on self improvement. If you found this even remotely helpful or insightful, then please share some love in the comments below and maybe let me in on your own life hack or hacks!