“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” — George Bernard Shawhttps://www.goodreads.com/quotes/8727-life-isn-t-about-finding-yourself-life-is-about-creating-yourself
This year has been an amazing year as far as personal growth goes. From books I read, to classes I took, to people who challenged me to grow in ways I never thought I could.
I think I brought up the 5 chimps theory before, but it’s important enough to bring it up again. If you aren’t familiar with the theory from zoology it basically states you can predict the mood and behavior patterns of any chimp based on the 5 chimps they hang out with most. I’m a big believer in applying this theory to my life as well as I tend to be highly influenced by the people I spend most of my time with. For example, if I spend time with people who are focused on their health, are constantly looking to improve themselves, and tend to be positive people, I find myself being similar and doing similar things as those people.
Beyond just surrounding myself with positive influences, I wanted to write a short post describing how I learned to keep myself focused at all times, to never lose sight of what I’m working towards, and to never get stuck. Before I jump in to all the tactics and habits I use to keep myself so focused, I wanted to share what typical week looks like just to give you a better idea. Here is a quick summary:
Typical week in my life
My weeks always start strong on Monday morning. I normally get 8 hours of sleep and wake up pretty much completely rested. Most mornings I wake up before my alarm goes off, quickly get in to my gym clothes, make breakfast and lunch, and then drive to the gym.
After a quick 1.5 hour workout, I shower and get to work by 7:30am which gives me enough time to quickly meditate before going in to the office. As I already have my top priorities for the week written out from the Friday before, I don’t have to waste time thinking about where to focus my energy for the week.
I meet with my team in the morning to plan our goals for the year, month, and week, and assign tasks. Then, it’s off to the races for the rest of the day. My day goes pretty much as planned with very few distractions.
After work I’m typically pretty energetic so I move straight in to working on my blog. Most days I can get about 1.5-2 hours of very focused work done. I don’t mind staying late at work as it allows traffic to die down a bit.
In general, I get home around 7:30pm and then cook a well-balanced dinner with lots of vegetables and leafy greens. By 9pm all the dishes are washed and it’s time to get ready for the next day.
All in all, I would say I have reached about 90% effectiveness as far as usage of my time goes.
Let’s get real…
If you haven’t realized by now, this “typical week” is mostly bullshit. I can only dream of a life where things go according to plan, where I am not constantly distracted, and where I am always energized and ready to get work done when I need to be.
To be more realistic, I don’t always get as much sleep as I would like, I’m not always as focused as I need to be, there are tons of distractions looking for my attention, having my meals prepared in advance rarely happens, and having my priorities taken care of in advance sadly doesn’t happen as often as I would like.
I do have to admit, although I comfortable that I am a flawed human being, actually writing down my flaws makes me me question why I am not doing a better job being more active in my life vs. merely accepting things for how they are in regards to many of the above mentioned realities...this blog really is like seeing a therapist sometimes 🙂
Pain plus reflection equals progress.
Now, even though I am far away from being the highly efficient, highly focused, and highly proactive individual I strive to be, I am a much improved version of the person I was 10 years ago. I also know habits don’t change overnight, they take sustained effort over long periods of time. Additionally, in line with Ray Dalio’s quote above, I know when things don’t go as planned, in most cases it’s just life giving me feedback that I need reflect on the situation and improve.
One thing I learned over the past few years is you can’t improve everything at once. A better method might be to focus on habits that have the biggest impact. An example of this might be focusing on things like sleep and working out. If I prioritize working out before work, 4 days during the week this ends up cutting out a lot of other bad habits I may have. For example, knowing I have to wake up early and workout, I can’t eat unhealthy meals at night, I can’t stay out too late, I can’t really drink alcohol, etc. Therefore, by focusing on what are sometimes called “keystone habits” I end up affecting other areas of my life as well. Then, once working out and waking up early become habits, I can move on adding more habits to my life.
Some people don’t have issues with being disciplined. They know what they need to do and they do it. However, for people like me, there is this gap between knowing what I should be doing vs. actually doing those things. I have tried many methods to get myself to bridge this gap and I’ll go in to what has worked for me in another post. In short though, you just have to have faith in yourself that you can improve and you need to keep testing different methods until you find one that works.
The main reason I wrote this post was to share my personal struggles between the person I know I can be and the person I currently am. Though this is still a lesson I am internalizing, I know through hard work I can make the difference between who I want to be and who I am smaller and smaller. Additionally, when I have failures or when I don’t live up to my own expectations, rather than becoming upset or beating myself up, I can use these opportunities as feedback from life that I need to improve.
Are you reaching or exceeding the standards you hold yourself to? If so, has this always been the case? If not, what is it you are having problems accomplishing? I would love to hear from you in the comments!