Take a minute to look back over the past 2-3 months. Most likely some days were better than others. Great days, good days, OK days and even some bad days all mixed in. Now think about the great days. What caused them to be great? Was it random, or are there certain things you did to create an environment where greatness could happen? How did your best days begin? How did your best days end?
When we ask ourselves these questions we begin to think strategically about our lives. If your day starts out lousy, it is difficult (sometimes impossible) to change the momentum. I recently finished the book Off Balance by Matthew Kelly. Towards the end of the book he talks about core habits. “Core habits are the daily habits that keep you healthy, focused, and energized.” (p.124) After reading the book I took some time to think about my great days and then created a list of 7 core habits. Every day I look at the list as a reminder of my recipe for greatness. To me, these are non-negotiable. I realize every day can’t be great, but it would be foolish of me not to try. After just a few weeks of developing this list it has become apparent how much my day is affected when one or more of the core habits are missing. I refuse to let days happen to me. I am now more aware of what makes a day great (for me) and I can be proactive by approaching each day strategically. Life is a journey and every day is an opportunity to learn from the past and improve our practice. Once I feel like these core habits have become strong enough, I will replace them with new ones.
Here’s my recipe for a successful day. Take a minute to think about your day and create a list of core habits. Then hold yourself accountable.
1. Exercise (Just like brushing my teeth, if I don’t do it I feel gross. It’s best to avoid me on days I’m not able to exercise. Please don’t make eye contact, I might rip your head off. OK, I’m being dramatic. It’s not that bad, but seriously I do apologize if you catch me on one of those days.)
2. Uninterrupted family time (I travel for work- so I want to make sure even when I’m gone that I have time with my husband and boys to talk about our day. I need to be fully present- no checking emails or Facebook, no TV in the background. Just me and my family.)
3. Interesting water (I realized I don’t drink enough water, so by adding lemon slices, cucumber or other fun stuff I make the water more interesting and as a result I drink more of it.)
4. Conscious food choices (Did I really just eat pop rocks, an entire cracker jack box, and a bag of BBQ chips during that conference call? I don’t remember that. No wonder my stomach hurts. That was stupid.)
5. Reflect (What went well today? What could I have done better? What did I learn today? What was the best part of my day?)
6. Be thankful (I tend to do this while I’m exercising. Being thankful helps me see the bigger picture and put my life in perspective. I’m incredibly thankful for the many blessings in my life.)
7. Posture (I have a tendency to hunch over especially when I’m sitting at my desk working all day.)
I wrote these 7 core habits on a note card and carry it with me in my Moleskine. I also took a picture of it (see above) and use this as my computer background. As a result I’m reminded throughout the day what I need to do to make it great.