Sleep is the best meditation. ~ Dalai Lama
There are some people who just seem to have it all figured out. They manage their families, careers and responsibilities with graceful ease, and clean shirts. Have you ever wondered how these ‘types’ manage to juggle so effortlessly, while your balls are seemingly crashing down around you?
These types of people always get the promotion, win the race, don’t ever seem stressed, and eyes just follow them.
What’s their secret? How are they keeping it all together?
I know, and I’m going to tell you.
It’s about getting the proper sleep.
People who get enough sleep are successful, focused and happy.Advertising
We need sleep to recharge our brains and bodies. When we are tired, we can aimlessly jump from task to task without any real clarity. We end up treading a tiring circle of never-ending tasks. We all want to be the best version of ourselves, whether it be a good mother, top executive or an amazing athlete.
In our busy society, sleep has become somewhat of a luxury. If you own your own business or have kids, you might relate to the phrase: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
Guess what? You couldn’t be further from the truth. You are forgoing the one thing that can help you achieve your success.
Bad sleep habits cause our bodies to become worn. Like an engine without an oil change, we start to break down.
- We become irritable and moody, and if sleep deprivation continues we can experience hallucinations and anxiety.
- We become emotionally flattened and our relationships suffer.
- We lose our ability to remember and suffer many cognitive delays.
- We can even fall prey to substance abuse.
- What’s even worse is that we can fall into micro-sleeps (5-10 seconds) that cause lapses in attention, which could lead us to nod off while doing an activity like driving. Not getting enough sleep is downright dangerous.
So ask yourself this: are you starting to resemble a zombie from World War Z? That’s not going to bring you success or happiness. Let’s get you back to being human, okay?
1. Don’t eat right before bed
Have your final meal about 3 hours before bedtime. Eating too close to bed will leave your digestive system working very hard and might cause an upset stomach throughout the night.
2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Caffeine is a stimulant and it keeps the body alert and energized. Alcohol may initially calm you or make you feel drowsy, but it actually increases the amount of times you will wake up during the night.Advertising
3. Reserve your bed for sleeping, that’s it.
If you read, watch TV or do work in bed, it will be hard to wind down. You want to associate your bed with sleep, and sleep only (well, maybe intimacy too, but we won’t get into that now).
4. Shut out the lights
Bright lights actually repress melatonin, which is responsible for regulating our sleep cycles. It is also recommended to avoid reading from back-lit devices late at night. The darker the room, the better. Try using heavy curtains or a sleep mask.
5. Don’t sleep too much
When it comes to sleep, there is too much of a good thing. Oversleeping can lead to heart disease, diabetes and depression. The average adult will need 8 hours sleep. This can vary from person to person, but use this as a guideline.
What You Should do:
The number one cause of being unable to sleep is stress. We stress about work, relationships or health. Meditation will open a whole new world. You need to turn off your mind, especially if you are struggling with sleep.
Our mind does a lot of thinking, and we usually aren’t even aware that it’s happening. But these thoughts are powerful, and sometimes thoughts can spiral into stressful, negative thoughts and control us. Meditation will give you powerful tools to be the watcher of your mind. By watching your mind, you can prevent urges and negative thoughts, and you can lead a stress-less life.
In addition to meditation, practice relaxation techniques such as:
- Deep breathing. Inhale into the bottom of your stomach and exhale deeply.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. Stay out of your head and focus on the sensations in your body.
- Imagery and visualization of peaceful, restful place.
- Use a sound machine. The sounds of the ocean can be very relaxing and take you miles away from your troubles.
2. The power of organization and positive thinking.
Before bed, make a list of all the amazing things about your day. Expressing gratitude is known to improve sleep. Also, make a list about what you plan to accomplish tomorrow. Staying focused will guarantee success.Advertising
You need to expend energy. Exercise will make you feel better throughout your day and is wonderful for aiding in sleep. I recommend yoga in particular. Exercise early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid stimulating the body before bed.
4. Stay hydrated.
Staying hydrated is important all the time: during waking hours and sleep time.
5. Drink relaxation tea.
I love having a calming decaffeinated Sleepytime tea before bed. The aroma itself puts me into a relaxed state.
6. Get up early.
This is the secret ingredient of success. If you want to accomplish big things and stay organized, get up early. I try to get up every day at 5:30; I write for an hour, meditate for half an hour, walk my dogs, make breakfast and then get ready for work. I can’t stress enough the benefits of this habit.
7. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.
Yes, that’s right, even on the weekends. Do you ever have trouble falling asleep on Sunday nights? Chances are you’ve fallen out of your sleep routine. Do your best to maintain your sleep schedule.
8. Keep a cool room.
Research suggests that we sleep the best if our room is kept at 65°F.
9. Remember that life goes on.
Why not postpone your worrying until tomorrow? And then tomorrow, postpone it to the next day. If you can solve the problem, then solve it; if you can’t solve it, then what is the point of worrying about it?Advertising
10. Laugh a lot.
Laughter and humor will push stress out and make you more likable. Stop taking life so seriously.
11. Tape your goals to your night side table.
That way the first thing you will see is your list. If you want to get a promotion, write it down in big letters and read it every morning. It’s the old Secret mentality: what you put out into the universe will come back to you. I’ve tried it, and it’s worked for me.
The benefits of sleep go way beyond banishing your dark circles. Sleep habits are an essential part of your lifestyle as a whole. Your best self is there–it might just be hidden underneath a sleep-deprived fog.
Why not start refining your habits tonight?
I’d love to hear about your secrets to successful sleep, so leave a comment below!
Last Updated on April 22, 2021
How to Work Hard the Smart Way: 4 Daily Rituals to Follow
Habits are what sets an average leader apart from a great leader. We can argue that talent is the biggest factor; we may debate how the amount of charisma sets the two apart. Yet, if you were to show me what you believed to be a great leader, I can show you the habits that made her/him great. Great leaders have great habits and know how to work hard the smart way.
Table of Contents
Developing Great Habits Is Hard Work
In my early college days, I had spent a lot of time learning how to play the trumpet. Playing the trumpet took time and discipline. I had some natural talent, but not enough to hide my lack of ability. My trumpet teacher was a man of discipline, and there was no doubt he had talent. What stood to me was his work ethic. He had to be one of the hardest working mentors that I had the privilege of working with.
One afternoon, I was in his office getting ready for my weekly trumpet lesson. As I was preparing, my eyes scanned the room and saw that there were quotes all over his office. My eyes rested on one quote that forever changed my thinking about my playing. It was a quote from my high school basketball coach Tim Notke that would become popular through professional athletes Kevin Durant and Tim Tebow:
“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.”
Hard work trumps talent. The key to success is not found in your talent or ability. Talent and ability are necessary, but they are not the primary factors. They are supporting roles in the story you are writing.
Ultimately, hard work is the key to your success. A good work ethic creates the momentum that propels you forward towards your goals.
Motivation Is Not the Answer
How many times have you seen someone go to a conference, get inspired, and then come home and do nothing?
If motivation were the answer, the world would have transformed hundreds of times over. Yet, when we look out our doors or turn on the news, we do not see a utopian society.
We have thousands of people who become inspired but lack the work ethic to apply anything they have learned. Time and time again frustration creeps in. We are so motivated and inspired by what we see but fail to put in place the things that would change our lives.
Frustration happens when the gap between what you expect to be true and what is true gets bigger. Motivation tends to create an expectation that is not rooted in reality. We want to take on the world but cannot get off Netflix long enough to do so.
Motivation is not the answer, but working hard is. Good habits and routines that produce success are the byproducts of a strong work ethic. The habits and routines we create and follow are the foundation on which we build a winning life.
How to Work Hard by Working Smarter
Here are 4 routines that will help you learn how to work hard and achieve your short term and long term goals.
1. Define What a Win Looks Like
In football, a player that crosses into the end zone gain points. In soccer, a player kicks the ball into the net to score. Hockey, lacrosse, and basketball are all the same. The player takes the object and moves it into the designated area to gain points. The team with the most points wins the game.
Why is it that we can define what a win looks like in sports, but we fail to do so in our leadership, our businesses, or our homes?
Learning how to work hard without setting a target is futile. It is insanity to work hard without having a clear direction to place your energy. I would argue that defining a win is one of the most important routines that a leader can have. Defining a win separates superficial activity from meaningful activity.
When I define a win, I know the goal line I have to cross. Knowing where the goal line is informs me of the activity I have to engage in to cross it. Without a clear direction, I am spinning my wheels hoping that I will get to a destination I haven’t defined. It is like asking a GPS for directions but failing to input the destination.
4 Steps to Define a Win
- Know the outcome you desire.
- Declare the outcome in specific, meaningful terms.
- Write the outcome down.
- Set your activity list to only do that which will complete your goals.
Let me give you an example. 15 years ago, I started speaking professionally. As a young and naïve speaker, I thought winning meant that I had to get a reaction from the audience. If they cheered, smiled, or cried, I considered myself a winner. The problem was my lack of understanding of what a win looked like. As a seasoned speaker, my wins look different.
As of today, when I speak, I am not looking for any emotional reactions from the audience. I win if, and only if, I clearly communicated my point so that anyone hearing the talk can take it and apply it to their lives that day. That is how I define a win when I speak now.
Create a habit of declaring a win. When you do, you will see your productivity soar and your encouragement increase. Pairing a hard work ethic with wise decisions creates victory. Stop being a mouse on a wheel that goes nowhere, and start being the captain of your fleet.
2. Evaluate Your Activity
Not all activity is equal. There are things you must do, things you need to do, and things we can either give away or delete. The greatest challenge of a leader is understanding the difference. Understanding what activity is busywork and what activity is mission work is pivotal.
Not only do we need to learn how to evaluate our activity, but we must make this a core routine in our arsenal of success. Stop working so hard on everything and start learning how to work hard on the right things.
Not every activity will move the needle forward for you. In fact, you were never meant to do everything yourself! Once we stop trying to be a martyr in our leadership, we can start looking at how to take things off our plates through delegation.
Based on the Eisenhower box, there are 4 things that we look at when deciding on which activities are important:
- Do now
- Plan to do it later
- Delegate to someone else
- Delete it
Powerful questions are the way you discover if the activity is right or not:
- Does this activity move me towards or away from my goals?
- Do I have to do this activity or can I give this activity away to someone else?
- Does this activity have to be now right now or can it be scheduled for later dates?
- Does this activity have to be done at all?
Evaluating the type of activity you engage in should be a routine that you do daily. Learning how to work hard should create progress. Having a system of evaluation and a routine to do it will help.
3. Prioritize Your Calendar
If you were to show me your calendar, I could show you why you are not further along. When you lack the routine of placing things on your calendar, two things happen.
First, what does not make it on your calendar does not get done.
It is a simple truth that is often overlooked. Your calendar contains the power to change your life. Yet, we don’t use our calendars to their fullest potential.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” -John C. Maxwell
Also, if you don’t mark you activities on your calendar, you are leaving it open to other’s priorities.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” -Stephen Covey
Having a routine in your life where you place things on your calendar is pivotal to your success. This is not a routine one should overlook.
It’s time to take your leadership and business to the next level. It’s time to start putting your daily routines on your calendar, along with your priorities.
4. Reflect on Your Day and Plan the Next
We are all about the morning routine. Whatever that looks like for you, there should be a routine in the morning that sets you up for success.
Hard work starts when your feet hit the ground in the morning. Creating the habit of winning starts with the first thing you accomplish that morning. If you win your morning, you will win your day.
But how often have you heard people talk about an evening routine? Tomorrow is won the day before it happens. When you fail to plan your day, you may put your effort toward in the wrong things. Route replaces routine. Indecision replaces decisiveness. Losses replace wins. The discouragement will deflate your momentum and increases the chances of procrastination. That is why we set our schedule the night before.
“Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.” -Sun Tzu
Working hard doesn’t have to be hard work. It shouldn’t take much out of you learn how to work hard as long as you work smart. Having a time where you reflect on the day and set your priorities is the difference-maker.
Use these questions to reflect on your day:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go well?
- What can I change?
- What do I need to start doing?
- What do I need to stop doing?
The Bottom Line
Navigating through life is hard work. Yet, the work doesn’t have to be hard when you work smarter. When you create routines that support your mission, you create wins. Working hard, the smart way will tip the balance in our favor.
Boxing legend Joe Frazier said:
“Champions aren’t made in the ring; they are merely recognized there.”
Champions put in the hard work behind the scenes. The world recognized them as a champion when they saw the results of the hard work. Right now, you are doing the work of creating a champion in yourself.
That work is setting your routines in order because you now know that success flows from your daily routines. If you are not experiencing the success you desire, then it is time to change things up.
More on Creating Healthy Routines
- Powerful Daily Routine Examples for a Healthy and High-Achieving You
- Your Routine is the Key to Achieving Your Goals
- Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart
Featured photo credit: Zan via unsplash.com
|||^||The Balance Careers: Interview Question: “How Do You Define Success?”|