“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Our never-ending quest towards self-improvement is a long journey of small steps. Small habits we repeat day after day, week after week, year after year. Small habits that have turned us into who we are today can also determine who we will become in the future. Below are 7 Power Habits of some of the greatest human beings to ever live.
Power Habit 1: Monitor Your Beliefs
Who did it? Mahatma Gandhi
Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi was the ideological and spiritual leader of the Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. Gandhi practiced Satyagraha, which can be described as resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience—a philosophy that is based on the abandoning of all forms of violence. Gandhi’s leadership helped India to gain its independence in 1947. He always believed in opposing tyranny with non-violence, and lead the Indian independence movement through his words and actions which were dictated by his beliefs.
“Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.”
Why you should do it!
Your beliefs will create your very own destiny. Every word, every action, every habit, and each one of your values has its roots in what you think and how you think. What do you believe in? What do you believe about yourself and your future? It is easy to forget about these simple questions in our everyday lives. It is very easy to be very inconsistent in what you think on an ordinary day compared to how you view your future self and your goals in life. Try to honestly reflect on how your daily actions are influenced by your beliefs and if your daily actions are aligned with your goals in life.
Power Habit 2: Sit and Think
Who does it? Warren BuffetAdvertising
Being emotionally steamed up is rarely a good premise for making sound decisions.
“What’s needed is a sound intellectual framework for making decisions and the ability to keep emotions from corroding that framework.”
So how does one of the greatest investors ever go about not letting emotions affect his ability to make wise and powerful moves?
“I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking and make less impulse decisions than most people in business. I do it because I like this kind of life.”
Why you should do it!
Facing a tough decision can be overwhelming, even when your name is Warren Buffet. The pressure felt in these situations can quickly turn into fear, while the ability to focus on facts fades. Even the smartest executives make poor decisions and a lot of the time the inability to blend out emotions is to blame. At the end of the day, CEOs are human beings too. Whether you sit and think as Buffet does or do something else, it is important to establish a strict decision-making routine. It’s a set of rules that allows you to get rid of emotional attachments. Even when “Coke or Pepsi” is going to be your only decision for today, just sitting and thinking can be a nice alternative as opposed to constantly seeking attractions online or wasting your time in other ways. Now sit and think about that!
Power Habit 3: Establish a Daily Routine
Who did it? Sir Winston Churchill
Sir Winston Churchill is widely regarded as one of the greatest political leaders of the 20th century. He led the United Kingdom as their prime minister through the terrible times of the Second World War. Born into an aristocratic family and spending his early years of adulthood in the military, Churchill was accustomed to discipline. According to artofmanliness.com, he kept a strict daily schedule even after leaving the military at age 26.
“He was totally organized, almost like a clock. His routine was absolutely dictatorial. He set himself a ruthless timetable every day and would get very agitated, even cross, if it was broken.”
He got up at 8 am every morning and started his day with a hot bath, speech practice, or singing. Sir Churchill spent the following hours in bed reading the newspaper, chewing on a cigar, and sipping scotch and soda. The rest of his day was organized by the clock as well, answering mails, working on speeches, enjoying lunch in good company. After a period of walking and reflecting, the statesman proceeded with an afternoon nap. The evening hours were spent playing cards with his family, taking another bath, and having dinner. Churchill’s second work shift of the day started at 11 pm and usually ended at 2 am, sometimes running as late as 4 am before he would call it a day.
Why you should do it!
Outside of the common grind of the 9-to-5, only a select few of us have managed to establish a successful daily routine. Those who do are usually the ones we consider the leading elite of our society. Self-organizing morning and evening routines will leave you more productive. You will simply get more stuff done in your life and be more successful in return. Just pick a handful of Power Habits, and start integrating them into your daily schedules.
Power Habit 4: Don’t Wait for Inspiration
Who did it? Pablo Picasso
Even if you don’t fancy art, you most likely have heard of Pablo Picasso or have seen some of his paintings. The Spanish painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, stage designer and poet is considered to be one of the most influential and greatest artists of the 20th century. Despite having such a creative mind, Picasso didn’t spend his time waiting for inspiration to hit him magically out of the blue. Rather, he started working, waiting to find inspiration in the process.
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.”
Why you should do it!
At times, inspiring thoughts and impulses come out of the blue. However, simply waiting for them and relying on inspiration to magically come to you won’t always work. You will spend most of your time waiting for inspiration and not working at all. Follow Picasso’s advice instead and simply start. Even if you don’t get past staring at a blank page for a while, eventually inspiration and creativity will catch up with you, and you will get into a high-quality flow of productivity.
Power Habit 5: Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Who does it? Michael JordanAdvertising
Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. Period. He may even be the greatest athlete of all time. However, MJ is no stranger to failure. Early on in his career, he was even cut from his high school varsity team. But Jordan turned his frustration into motivation, making failure the reason for his later success:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” For Jordan, failure is not the end of the road, the most important thing is to be not afraid of trying. “I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.”
Why you should do it!
Most people despise the word failure. Why? Everyone wants to be like Mike, so why not learn from his outlook on failure as well? Failing is not the end of the world. If you have high goals, do whatever it takes to get there. Your determination to succeed in life should push you past your fear of failure. Setbacks don’t mean that you have failed, they are just another lesson that you have learned along the way to the top. A lesson that will help you to adjust your future behavior, and keep you from making the same mistake twice. A real failure is when you lose sight of your dreams and decide not to even try.
Power Habit 6: Forgive
Who did it? Nelson Mandela
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
Spending nearly three decades in prison, Mandela would have had more than enough reason to be bitter and hateful. Instead, Madiba, as he was called by his people, became a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Leading his country through their struggle against apartheid and all forms of racism, Mandela is the icon and hero of the African liberation movement. After his long years in prison, he became South Africa’s first democratically elected president.
Why you should do it!
Forgiveness is the act of compassionately releasing the urge to punch someone right in the face. This might not be the textbook definition of forgiveness but we can all agree that forgiving is tough. It is incredibly hard and takes a tremendous amount of discipline. Here is one reason why you should do it nonetheless: at the end of the day, forgiveness is not something we only do for others, we should also do it for ourselves. We should do it to try and get out of our own jail cell of bitterness and hatred and leave the pain behind. Forgiveness is an attribute of a strong character.Advertising
Power Habit 7: Simplify
Who did it? Bruce Lee
Born in the United States and raised in Hong Kong, Bruce Lee is perhaps the most popular martial artist in history. Lee has always been more than just an awesome fighter and actor. His philosophical approach to life has turned him into a source of inspiration for many. Bruce Lee was a known minimalist, keeping his focus on the most important tasks in life.
“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”
Why you should do it!
If you are looking to improve your life, it is very tempting to always add more. More exercises to your routine, more habits to your daily schedule, more superfoods to eat to optimize your diet. You may discover that you don’t really have the necessary time and energy to actually do more.
Adding more and more to our lives can be enticing, but it can also be very overwhelming and lead to more stress. Sizing down on thoughts, activities, and clutter can be very liberating. It frees up time and energy to focus on the tasks that are actually most important to you. Overthinking things will also keep you from reaching your goals in the most efficient manner.
“If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”
Featured photo credit: Being Mehul via 3.bp.blogspot.com
Last Updated on October 21, 2021
How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness
Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.
Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.
The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.
Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.
Table of Contents
Program Your Own Algorithms
Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.
Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.
By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.
How to Form a Ritual
I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.
Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:
- Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
- Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
- Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
- Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.
Ways to Use a Ritual
Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:
1. Waking Up
Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.
2. Web Usage
How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.
How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.
Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.
One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.
6. Going to the gym
If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.
Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.
Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.
8. Weekly Reviews
The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.
We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.
More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination
- What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)
- How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators
- 5 Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Each of Them)
Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com