There are literally thousands of blog posts about keys to success, so what makes this one any different? I see no less than one blog post every day about different morning routines, lists of things successful people do, info graphs, charts, and everything else that will fit into a blog post.
What makes this post different is that, after reading all of those posts, and implementing most of the tips, these are the four specific actions that made the biggest immediate impact in my own life. I share them with all of my clients because I truly believe that these four steps alone will help you take your life to the next level.
SPECIFIC ACTION 1: WRITE YOUR GOALS
Every day, on paper, with a hand held writing utensil. The first thing people ask is if they can type them. No, you cannot type them. People argue that typing is faster. Writing something by hand, with a pen, on paper is the intellectual equivalent of actually chewing and tasting your food. The second question I get is whether or not you have to actually re-write them every day, or if it is sufficient to just review them daily and write them weekly or monthly. You MUST re-write them every day. This will reinforce your commitment to the goals AND get your subconscious actively thinking about ways to achieve them. If you don't have the time to re-write your goals or are worried about your hand getting sleepy, you are not committed to the goal.
SPECIFIC ACTION 2: PLAN BLOCK TIME
I skipped the step of "Get A Planner" because I assume everyone has a planner. If you are the type of person who is just highly skilled at remembering everything, I commend you, and hope you will consider using a planner to free up a few gigabytes of your human hard drive to make room for inspired ideas and relaxing. You can find hundreds of systems and articles on how to effectively plan your life. I am going to put down 2 essential tips for your planning system. Everything else is just process.
Plan weekly, and be sure you schedule AT LEAST one task that moves you toward your goal. You can schedule 2 or more, but at a minimum, each goal gets one scheduled task per week, even if it is simple. Ideally, plan for one task per day to reach the most important goals. Maybe it is the same task every day. Just as long as, come the end of the week, you can pat yourself on the back for making some type of progress toward each goal.
Go back to high school. If your high school was anything like mine, you probably had homeroom from 8:30 until about 9:00, math from about 9:03 to 9:42, three minutes to get from class to class, thirty eight minutes for lunch, etc. This schedule was a pain in the ass, but it got the job done and got you out of school with an education. Imagine if you went back to high school and the principal told you that you had from 8:30 AM until 3:30 PM, and that you had to complete forty five minutes of Math, Science, English, and Social Studies, all while taking 30 minutes for lunch and playing outside for 45 minutes. You could do it at your own pace, but had to be done by the end of the day. Likely, if you are like me, your day would start with recess, and then wade into lunch, followed by another recess, followed by snack time. The hard stuff would have been crammed to the end of the day, probably not finished, and if finished, not finished well. Set "Block Goals" every day. Imagine spending 15 minutes in the morning before the day starts scheduling exactly what you were going to do every hour of the day. Imagine CRUSHING the first five hours of the day. Even if you fall off schedule toward the end of the day, what an amazing day it would have been.
SPECIFIC ACTION 3: TURN YOUR VEHICLE INTO A WEAPON OF MASS INSTRUCTION
This is a seemingly easy one. Did you know that, by nature, we spend the majority of our "alone time" engaged in negative self-talk? It’s a wonder we are so averse to being alone and need to be distracted all the time by our smart phones, televisions and computers. We spend a good amount of our alone time in the car, sometimes thinking about things that we have to do, closely followed by thoughts of "wishing we started doing it sooner" followed by "I wish I wasn't such a procrastinator." The solution: Spend your car time feeding your brain with positive input. Get an audiobook or find a podcast. These should be of the "success" nature. There is a time and place for fun and fiction, but let’s reserve our car time for self-improvement and programming our brains for success.
SPECIFIC ACTION 4: JOURNAL
Why keep a journal? For the same reason we measure our kids heights on the wall. Journals help you see growth. I often look back on my journal entries from a year or more ago to see what I wrote about then. What was I grateful for? What was I afraid of? What were my goals, and have I achieved them, or have I improved the quality of my goals altogether? I recommend journaling at the end of every day (again, on paper, with a pen) but once a week is ok too. I can't honestly say I have seen much difference when I skip a day or two, but much more than a week is too long to go. Keep it positive. No need to beat yourself up "Dear Diary" style. No need to write about people being mean to you. Write about the awesome things you did that day. Write about the special moments you shared with friends and family. Write down cool quotes you heard and interesting things you learned. Next year, open to the page you started on and see how much you have grown.
That's it. Those are the four specific actions that made the most immediate impact in my daily life. Sounds like alot of work? What can I say? If it were easy, everyone would do it. If you want me to expand on any of these, or if you try them yourself, let me know in the comments.