We live in a driven culture. The pressure to perform, reach goals, deliver results fills the waking hours of our day often keeps us awake at night. At the start of every new calendar year, we rejoin the sea of people on the annual pilgrimage of reorienting our life direction through a new list of goals. Pulling our battered souls off the pavement we hope for yet another strategy to reach the elusive goal of being more successful.
What if, in 2016, we make the decision to jump off of this repetitive cycle of tweaking our time management strategy and instead embrace an entirely new pursuit? What if we commit to 3 new actions focused on helping us become our best selves?
Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Aristotle believed and taught that people have a natural capacity for good character, and this capacity is developed through practice. A capacity does not come first (i.e., it does not precede an action)—it is developed through practice. Habits, then, are developed through acting. A person's character is the made up of habits formed by what he or she does.
So, what if, instead of starting with a resolve to change, to be more successful in life or leadership, we embraced a different action? What if we opened space for the formation of a new habit? In Aristotle’s view, a habit is the essential process through which any desired change must pass in order to stick.
The book, Manage Your Day To Day, by 99U, key leaders, consultants, and thinkers across the country offer a new and different approach to managing time by committing to habitually healthy life practices. Here are three iterations that I am putting at the top of my list.
1. Be prepared to disappoint people
- Build a rock solid routine of saying “No!” more often.
- Don’t sacrifice your focus, dreams, priorities for the sake of an empty inbox.
2. Build renewal into your workday
- Give yourself permission to do nothing - unhook completely from ALL technology every 90 minutes. Take at least three 5 minute hiatus in your day to breathe, reflect, and be.
- Reserve time for “unnecessary creation” with no restrictions to where it leads.
- Make it a practice to ask yourself, “What am I busy about?” or “What am I paying attention to?”
3. Defend your creative time
- Notice when you tend to have the most passion and energy for your work.
- Devote (schedule) this time to your highest priorities.
Each and every one of us have the ability to choose to use our capacity, either in a neurotic pursuit of the illusion of success, or to actions that grow our skills and abilities to be our best selves.
I invite you to join me in choosing different actions that develop new habits. Could it be, that as we commit new actions until they become habits for becoming our best selves, that we’ll find ourselves further down the road than our puny resolutions for success will take us? Time will tell.