“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
How to Fight Information Overload
Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.
This has to stop somewhere. And it can.
As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.
What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:
- Set your goals.
- Decide whether you really need the information.
- Consume only the minimal effective dose.
- Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.
But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.
The Nature of the Problem
The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.
When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.
No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.
That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”
Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…
Why information overload is bad
It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.
Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.
The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.
You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.
So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.
1. Set your goals
If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”
Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.
Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.
Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.
2. What to do when facing new information
Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.
First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.
If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)
And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.
You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.
3. Minimal Effective Dose
There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.
Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.
4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information
Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.
This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.
Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.
As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.
Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?
(Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)
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