This week I was minded to reflect on what makes the difference between those that seem to be happy, achieve, get things done and are successful in whatever way you want to look at that concept.
The message that I have taken in the many books and teachings that I have consumed is that people who do these things are not particularly special, super-human or even clever. They are ordinary folk who, according to Charles Duhig and James Clear, both experts in the field of habits and their impact on our lives, do simple but important things every day that moves them forward towards whatever it is they want to achieve.
It doesn’t matter if your goal is to lose weight, build a great network, educate yourself in the field of knowledge, acquire a skill or build a business, the only way to do it is to do the important things that lead to those successes, in small doses, consistently, every day.
It’s not rocket science and we all know this but somehow the desire or commitment to do that thing every day seems to elude us. Perhaps it’s because we get consumed in the doing of whatever urgent stuff that presents itself when we get up and go to our jobs or businesses or schools. I know that is what happens to me.
Doing that, and I have to admit that I am the biggest culprit myself, effectively gives our power away and lets outside influencers and demands dictate what happens in our lives and then we compound it by making excuses as to why we didn’t go to the gym this morning or why it was easier to buy that takeaway on the way home or why it was that you didn’t make any sales calls or do anything to promote your business today because you had to deal with staff problems and an irate customer.
But then we wonder why it is that you can’t get fit, or we are putting on weight or our business is not growing and our pipeline is empty, unfortunately, the answer right there in those excuses. Those excuses and our acceptance of them is what is stopping us being and having whatever it is that we would like to be, have or create.
I found that once I stopped making excuses, I then started to look for how I might actually follow through and start some of these constructive habits and drop some of the negative ones.
However, as this is a daily practice, the key is getting a good start by taking control.
We take control by consciously setting out our intentions for what we intend to do in the day ahead. If it’s that easy, why do we not do it?
The main reasons are distraction and interruption, both of which prevent us from consciously thinking about ourselves, our priorities and what we are trying to create.
According to the experts, we need to put a spanner in the works of those things that get in our way and steal our time and attention by high jacking it.
You know where I am going with this but the biggest ‘hijacker’ of our attention and ‘saboteur’ of our consciousness are electronic devices. In those, I count not only our phones, tablets or the good old fashioned desktop computers but also, the older tech versions in the form of radio and TV.
The one thing that all of these devices have is the ability to push all kinds of news, gossip, information, entertainment and work into our faces 24/7, 52 weeks of the year.
And yet this is not a ‘device bashing’ piece. For all their cleverness they don’t actually work if they are turned off and they have no impact on us if we don’t look at them.
So the control of these devices and therefore the control they have over our lives is still in our hands.
We just need to choose and every time we pick up our phone or switch on the TV we are inviting someone else’s agenda to impact us and most importantly, our agenda.
We have no purpose, no sense that we are living and the dreams that we claim to have are nothing more than that, dreams, that will never see the light of day because we are too distracted and jaded by the interruptions that we allow into our lives which are stopping us living the lives of purpose, hope, excitement, and joy that we are supposed to be living.
I know that I have felt that way a lot and I see it in other people too and I know that when I snap out of the trance created by all of these interruptions and I make some conscious decisions about what I intend, yes intend, to do on any given day then suddenly things feel more in control, they assume a purpose and a joy and there is a great sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.
The answer is clearly not to keep all of the technology and these amazing devices out of your life completely but we do have the choice as to when we use them. When we switch them off and when they are on silent mode.
By creating periods in the day when they are away from us or limited as to how they might interrupt us, we create more time for ourselves to think and plan and do those things, those little habits that compound day after day to create some of the things that we long to be, have or want to create.
Let’s face it, the allowing of technology into our lives from the second that we open our eyes in the morning to just before we close them again at night, is in itself a habit. A bad habit, that is hijacking us and robbing us of our natural faculties and abilities to direct our lives.
But we can stop it if we choose to.
Listening to Ryan Moran, from capitalism.com recently he suggested that if we did nothing more than leave our phones aside in the morning until after we have completed our morning routine and planning for the day, that we would transform ourselves and our lives.
He said that by keeping ourselves clear of the interruptions from devices until we have set our daily intentions and plans ensure that we retain control of where we need to put our attention and energy. If we set ourselves up for the day in this way. then even the inevitable crises and interruptions can be handled whilst still keeping a focus on the important stuff.
This got me thinking, so I decided to experiment with it and started about a month ago.
I haven’t been perfect because I don’t always remember not to reach for the phone in the morning. More recently I have been leaving the phone away from the bed and therefore I can’t just pick it up automatically.
I have definitely found that on the days that I manage to do it and take the time to schedule out my day on my diary, with intention, I have achieved much more, felt more on track throughout the day and had a real sense of accomplishment at the end of it.
Importantly I have found that things which I had been procrastinating about or just not getting to because of interruptions or just not getting the headspace to think about properly are now being cleared and real progress is being made.
I am going to keep going with it and it might be something that you would consider.
I put together a daily planning sheet in Excel format which I have found helpful and in case it might be of use to you I have included the download link in the box below.
I hope you might experiment with the practice too and you find the sheet useful. If you have any questions or comments please send them through.
The important thing to remember is that it is not hopeless, it is possible to step off the merry-go round of stress, dissatisfaction, and underachievement.
It is up to us. We are in control. We can choose.
Daily Planner Template
The template includes 7 days of the Daily Planner representing the days of the week in separate tabs in the Excel Spreadsheet. By resetting the date of Monday, the dates on subsequent days will be updated.