As I mentioned in my first post in this series, I narrowed a list of over 30 things that have helped drastically improve my life down to only 10. Coming up with the initial list was pretty easy, however reducing them to 10 was a bit more of a challenge, as they all have significant meaning in my life.
The first 5 I talked a bit about sleep, values and journaling, and I’d like to finish off the list with my final 5. I hope that you find inspiration in this and can use some of what I learned in your own life.
Thank you again for reading.
6. Meditating and Visualizing
Meditating means something different to everyone.
For me, meditating means being completely present in the moment, and giving my undivided attention to what I’m doing – whether it’s cooking, cleaning, reading, showering, listening, training clients, or even being intimate with a partner.
Not only do I practice being completely present while doing a particular task, but I also allow myself periods of complete silence, which usually occurs first thing in the morning when I wake, or right before I fall to sleep. I try to allow my mind to clear, and NOT allow my mind to run through every single conversation and interaction I had throughout the day. Although replaying the day like this is important, I save the time before bed to calm my mind, rather than re-hashing the days events.
During silent meditation, I am usually visualizing my life’s goal coming to fruition. I will create my a movie in my mind, with me as the main character, and then visualize how I’d like the plot, my life, to unfold.
By doing this I have a picture in my mind of steps I need to take to make those goals come true. If you are interested in this sort of visualization, please read Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz.
Exercising on a consistent basis not only keeps me in shape but also helps me feel better about myself and my body which in turn results in a better outlook on my life.
A typical week for me consists of 2 – 3 days of strength training and 1 day of private pilates training with my personal pilates instructor Phy London.
Yes. Even I pay for a personal trainer.
My fitness is one of my top priorities, and I’ve found that by enlisting the help of another skilled professional, whom I respect and trust, I am able to stay motivated, more so than if I was doing it alone. Phyllis is the best trainer that I’ve ever worked with, and through her have found ways to work my body efficiently without feeling drained.
Including my private sessions, I set a goal for each month to get in 16 workouts, which roughly breaks down to about 4 workouts a week. Notice that my workouts do not include chronic cardio, or a dedicated to day to just “cardio”. Rather, I infuse my strength training workouts with cardio intervals, (short bursts of high intense work, followed by periods of rest).
I feel that most gym-goers abuse cardio, and do waaaaay to much of it. I like the idea offered by Mark Sisson and his Primal Blueprint which includes long duration walking. Since I do not own a car, I walk my ass everywhere. I supplement my workouts with short bursts of high-intense cardio. If you live in the city, this is super easy to do. For more information on this style of working out, here is a blog series I wrote about interval training (part 1, part 2, part 3).
8. Having clear measurable goals
Below is a picture of the white board I have hanging in my room that I use to chart my Yearly, Monthly, Weekly and Daily goals, along with a reminder of my Core Values. As soon as I wake up (granted I don’t have to rush to pee) I will list all of my goals for the day. Now, if you can look closely, my daily goals is nothing more than a glorified “to do” list.
I find that physically writing down a list to see and then marking it off, is equivalent to a high-five and a pat on the back.
Remember in school, recieving a gold star for doing something awesome? Well, this board is pretty much my gold star board, my “You’re awesome!” chart. Even if “doing laundry” is something I want to accomplish for the day, I write it down, and then mark it off when I’m done.
It’s like a game to me, and at the end of the day, I like to see how many items I can cross off.
And if for some reason, I don’t cross one off, I leave it on there for the next day, and work on crossing it off as soon as possible.
9. Making my bed.
Of all the things on my original list I had written down, I had to include this one. And you might be thinking, how has making my bed in the morning drastically improved my life? Well, simple.
1. It’s a great way to start the day off on a positive note. By making my bed in the morning, I start the day off with a sense of accomplishment. I’ve learned that a lot of little accomplishments (like making your bed) can be just as powerful as completing one huge feat.
And really, the huge accomplishments can take years, or decades in the making (starting a business, having a child, becoming a grandparent, etc). So why not reward yourself with smaller accomplishments more frequently?
2. Making my bed in morning has taught me to appreciate a clean an organized living space.
I have found that when my environment is chaotic and disorganized, I have a difficult time concentrating. When there are more things that are cluttering our work space, there is more stimulus for our brain to pick apart, which leads to wasted brain power.
A clear living space will lead to clear thinking.
Staying organized not only keeps my mind focused, but also makes finding things a hell of a lot easier. How many times have you tried to rush out of the house, but can’t find our phone? Or your keys? Or you shoes?
Yeah, it sucks.
When things are organized, and your belongings have a “home” you’ll know exactly where to find them, when you need them.
3. Finally, making my bed in the morning and staying organized has a huge effect on the people that enter my living space.
When someone walks into your home, or your room and sees that you are organized, and tidy, and that you care for your things, they will in turn have a greater sense of respect for your space as well.
Talk about making a good first impression.
10. Spending time with people that encourage, inspire and help me feel good about myself.
Far too often I found myself spending time with people that didn’t make me feel good about myself. And some of these people were close friends and co-workers, which made it very difficult to try to step away. But keep in mind:
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn
I stumbled upon this quote a few years ago, and when I started to pay attention to this, I saw how the habits and actions of those I surrounded myself with directly and indirectly shaped my life.
Think about it.
We are all more likely to party more, drink more, and eat more around friends who…party more, drink more, and eat more.
Now this can be hard, and I’m not saying that you have to say good bye to life long friendships, but just keep that little quote in mind.
If you want to be a successful __________ (fill in the blank), socialize, hang out and network with other successful ____________ (whatever your blank was).
For me, I strive to put goodness into the world, and to be successful in my career. So, I spend time with other people who put good in the world, and who encourage and inspire me to be successful.
It’s pretty simple. And when you do find these people, hold on to them, cherish them, and thank them daily for being a part of your life.
Even though this rounds up the list, it is one of the most important things I’ve learned over the last several years that I strive for everyday. My intentions with these last two posts was to share my own personal experiences, failures, and successes in the hopes that you will find inspiration for your own life.