Here’s a short story
On Superbowl Sunday, my wife and I went to see the game at a friend’s house. It was a snowy night in the suburbs of Chicago. As we walked in, our shoes wet with snow, we created puddles on the floor of the entryway. I looked down at the puddle of brown water, and felt bad that I was dirtying their floor.
So, as soon as my shoes were off, I went to find paper towels to clean up the mess. I was promptly told by the host to not worry about it. Most people would accept that, and move on with their day. Not me. It didn’t matter to me that the host graciously said they would take care of the mess. I caused it. I said, “Thanks, but I’m going to get it”.
It’s those little things in life that make up the big picture of what type of person I am, and how I portray myself to those around me.
It all comes back to a quote that whispers to me everyday, everywhere; “When you leave somewhere, leave it in better shape than when you entered.”
I can’t leave without appeasing these whispers. I want to show people that I care about them, and their possessions. Part of this is making sure that when I leave a place, it’s a little bit better than when I first arrived.
So, why does my subconscious whisper this to me every time I go somewhere?
Because it’s a habit. I just do things that need to be done because I’ve created the habit by doing them over and over again, place after place, event after event.
Creating these micro-habits is the foundation for creating success on the larger scale.
Take for example, a story from the book “Cold Calling Techniques” by Stephan Schiffman. In the book, Schiffman talks about a presentation that he did for a large pharmaceutical company. At this event, there was a rep who outperformed all 650 of his peers from across the country. Schiffman asked him, point blank, “Out of curiosity, how did you become number one?” The rep’s response was dead simple. He said, “I made one more call at the end of the day.”
It was this simple habit that made the difference between being an average earner and being the top earner in the entire company!
Do you see now how these little micro-habits can make a world of difference?
Well then, here’s how you can get started.
Again, the answer is simple; it just takes a little work. In order solidify habits, they have to become part of your subconscious. They have to be things that you do without thinking about them — without having to mull the action over in your head every day.
Obviously, it’s impossible to go from zero to hero overnight. So, in order to cement a particular habit — really drill it into your subconscious — you need to just do it, every day, without fail.
Yes, you will need to battle with yourself to get it done. Yes, it will be mentally straining (especially for habits that force you to be in a state of high discomfort). But I promise you, if you show up and do the task, over and over, it will become an unconscious habit within a mere couple of weeks!
Positive Vs. Negative Habits
In the book Outwitting The Devil, Napoleon Hill (author of Think And Grow Rich) is interviewing the Devil. Hill is able to wrangle a confession of all the nasty ways the Devil takes hold of humans, and uses them for his purposes. Throughout the book, the topic of habits reappears on multiple occasions.
The main point around the discussion of habits is that they can be either good or bad, positive or negative, righteous or evil. It’s incredibly important, as you’re establishing rhythms, that you create the habits that have a positive influence in your life. Seemingly little habits have a way of exponentially helping or hindering you on your path to success.
Here’s a negative habit that I have always struggled to break: I don’t do anything productive when I wake up in the morning. Doing nothing of value until arriving at work seems to be what is instilled in us from the time we start kindergarten. Wake up at the last minute, eat breakfast, just make it to the bus stop. Does that sound familiar? That’s what my routine was all throughout my 13 years of being in school.
Now, I realize how much of a negative influence that little habit has on my life. Luckily, I have the keys to breaking it; consciously making the effort to wake up, and doing something productive, every day, first thing in the morning. Even when it’s uncomfortable and I really have to fight with myself, I do it. Through brute force, and power of will, I turn a negative habit into a positive one.
Dream (mind) over Body
You’ll never accomplish any positive changes in your life without the right mindset. But, just as you must practice physical tasks to cement them as habits, so too must you practice mental habits. All the self-help gurus love to talk about mindsets. And while I think many of them go way over the top, there is validity to how powerful of a force your thoughts are.
Here’s a quick way that I’ve started helping myself get up and do something productive in the morning. Every night before bed, I stop to think and intentionally focus on what I’m going to do as soon as I wake up. Maybe it’s reading a chapter in a book, or meditating, or doing a short workout to get the blood flowing. Whatever it is, it’s the last thing on my mind before I fall asleep.
I’ve found that doing this allowed me to be precise in my actions when I wake up. This practice is effective because I leave myself with no other option but to do the thing I said I was going to do. It helps me start my day with intention. If I wake up with no plan, then I’ll just fall back asleep until I have to get up.
Breaking The Bare Minimum
Now that I’ve talked about everything leading up to this, I’d like to give you the easiest, no-hassle way to break the barrier of bare minimum.
Every day, you’ll have a list of tasks to complete. This will be at your job, at home, for yourself, for your kids, etc. The easiest way to break the bare minimum is to just do one additional task each day. (All the build-up for that?) Look, I know that it may seem like a stupid answer to the problem, but I promise you that it’s the most effective way to accomplish more than 99% of other people. This comes back to the sales rep saying that he accomplishes more by making “one more call at the end of the day.”
Don’t dismiss this because it’s easy. Implement this because it’s easy.
How do feel on days when you accomplish more than what’s on your to-do list? I bet you feel amazing. I bet you feel accomplished. Maybe you even go to bed with a smile, knowing you just had a successful day.
One additional thing completed every day means 30 (or 31) additional things completed every month, and 365 every year. Don’t you think that this one little habit could change your life drastically for the better?
If you’re not averse to easy, then this suggestion may be just what you’re looking for. Start today. The results will compound on each other, and in a year, you’ll be a significantly better version of yourself.
Until next time,