“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 July 21, 2021
The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.
Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”
A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.
Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.
In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.
Table of Contents
From Creating Reminders to Building Habits
A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.
For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.
This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.
The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.
That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.
Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!
The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.
Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.
But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?
The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.
The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders
A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.
For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.
But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)
If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.
For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself) can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.
These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.
For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.
How to Make a Reminder Works for You
Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.
Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.
Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.
My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.
Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.
I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.
More on Building Habits
- 16 Everyday Habits of Highly Productive People
- How Long Does It Take to Break a Habit? Science Will Tell You
- How to Break Bad Habits: I Broke 3 Bad Habits in Less Than 2 Months
- How to Break a Habit and Hack the Habit Loop
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com
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