Second, it’s an arbitrary date. While January 1 looks nice, it’s no more an effective date July 7 or September 10. In fact, based on the (usually) poor weather conditions and limited sunlight, it may actually be a worse time to start your goals.
Third, those committed to self-improvement do it as soon as they discover a weakness. In my work with high-performers, I can always tell the level of seriousness in a potential client by how they treat their self-improvement. Those who are ready usually take little to no prompting from me. We’ll talk about a subject, figure out an action plan, and they are off and running. In contrast, those that take a while to decide, need to spend some time “thinking about it” or “will get back to me” never actually make real change. They like the idea of change, they know they should change, but they rarely (if ever) do.
In August of 1997, Steve Jobs urged us to “Think Different.”
It worked for Apple. It works for us too.
If you want to be someone that breaks the trend of failed new years resolutions, here are my top three tips to “Think Different” and experience success.
Those were the words my client told me over the phone.
Frustrated and agitated, he was lamenting the increasing toll his recent promotion was taking on him. The commutes were longer, the workdays were more exhausting, the stress was mounting.
“Was the pay increase really worth this?” he continued. “Sure, the pay is great, but what’s the point if I can’t enjoy it. Worse than that, I barely see my family anymore!”
Perhaps you can relate.
Maybe you’ve had one of the “crazy weeks.” (Wait…isn’t every week like that???)
My advice remains the same now as it was then: start with the big rocks.
Determine Your Big Rocks
I remember hearing of a study once that examined the student’s ability to properly fill an aquarium full of rocks. There were various sizes of rocks from tiny pebbles to larger foundational rocks.
As the story goes (at least as it was reported to me), the college students started dumping rocks, starting with the small one first to fill the bottom evenly.
By the time they got to the big rocks, not everything would fit.
In contrast to this, the kindergarten students started with the big rocks and everything looking messy. But, as they poured each successively smaller version of rocks in, they filled all the gaps.
The result? The college students “failed” the experiment by not fitting in all of their assigned rocks. In contrast to this, the kindergarten students passed because all of the rocks fit.
And while dozens of life lessons could be learned from this, this is why I push my clients to start with the big rocks.
When we start with the big rocks of life, we end up having room for everything. Work is undoubtedly an important part of life, but is it our biggest rock? Probably not. (At least it shouldn’t be…)
Family, self-care, personal growth, and close relationships are all things that should take up the foundation of who we are. Hobbies and work probably come next. Small rocks include the minor areas of life that take up some time but should never take too much.
As we gain clarity on what our big rocks are, we can easily see what is out of balance with our life pace.
Learning From My Kids
One of the things I’ve learned to implement is a lesson from my four children. If I leave the house and I hear, “Bye, dad! I can’t wait to see you later!” there is a good chance that things are going well. If, on the other hand, I hear, “Noooooo. Daddy, don’t go!” followed by weeping and gnashing of teeth, I know that my priorities for work are starting to take up too much time.
In those moments, I work diligently to reshape my schedule to spend more time with my family.
Thankfully, I’m getting better at this and starting to hear those sounds of disappointment less.
But it all starts with having clarity.
Clarity on the key values for my life.
Conviction on what matters most.
Commitment to live a life shaped by honoring my values more than worldly demands.
But I can only do that when I start with the big rocks.
Question For Discussion: What might be something you would say to someone struggling with work-life balance? Leave a comment below!
When we left Denver for our California move, it was Valentine’s Day 2017. My wife boarded a plane with our four kids (and my mom) with a one-way ticket to Los Angeles.
Most of our items were onboard a semi-truck moving company and in transit already. After I dropped them off at the airport, I took our minivan loaded with only essential family possessions and my camping gear and headed west. With a full tank of gas and a queue of podcasts and audiobooks, I plugged my ending destination into the GPS system on my phone and took off.
Fourteen hours later I had made it. I was halfway through the trip, and after a quick one night stay at a campground, woke up early the next morning to finish the trip.
At regular intervals, I would stop, fill up the gas tank, grab some food, stretch my legs, and start a new audiobook.
Even when I stopped, got rerouted because of road work, or got stuck in traffic, my end destination stayed the same.
I had a clear goal and objective in mind: reuniting with my family.
Everybody ends up somewhere. A few people end up somewhere on purpose. Those are the ones with vision. – Andy Stanley
Somewhere on Purpose
Life works the same way. So does business. Family. Hobbies. Income. Education.
You are going to end up somewhere. The only question is if it is where you wanted to be.
To get where you want to be, you have to have a vision. Practice Intentionality. Cultivate solid habits. Engage in Discipline.
To get where you want to go, you have to be clear in where it is you want to end up.
If I had simply entered “California” or “West” into my GPS, there is a strong likelihood that I wouldn’t have ended up next to my family.
In life, if your only goal is to end up “not here,” then you probably won’t. But that also doesn’t mean the destination is any better.
Like a good GPS system with a final address, our life needs to have a clear end destination in mind. A clear goal to reach. An objective measure that we have arrived.
As a success and mindset coach, that’s much of how I work with my clients on a daily basis.
But success doesn’t have to mean financial. Maybe it means that it’s having just enough to be able to take trips with the grandkids. Success for some might mean living long enough to see a family member take over the family business. For another, it could be to lose weight and run their first 10k.
Success for one former client was to start her own business and never work for someone else again.
For another, it was to build a speaking platform and tour the country providing health lectures.
Ending up somewhere on purpose doesn’t happen by accident.
So, if you’re ready to end up somewhere on purpose, here are five tips to help you get started.
5 Tips to End up Somewhere on Purpose:
1.) Create a list of the non-negotiable elements of your life. Key relationships, experiences, and mindsets are always foundational.
2.) Visualize your success. Create a vision board, write it down in your journal, practice intentional meditation. Whatever it is that works for you, spend time actually thinking about and picturing yourself in that future state.
4.) Share your vision with someone you love. Life is best traveled with someone you love. A spouse, friend, mentor, or coach can encourage you during the downtime and help you push through the tough moments.
5.) Stay the course. It won’t happen overnight. Real Talk: It may not even happen in a thousand nights. But if you are faithful, day in and day out over the course of a lifetime, it will.
The jarring blare of the alarm pries your eye-lids open and rips you into the land of the living.
What’s your first instinct?
The snooze button or the bounding first leap of a new baby gazelle?
Is your first thought, “Why me?” or “Why wait any longer?”
The way we set our mind first thing determines the much of the rest of the day.
Richard Whatley once said, “Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.”
Our mindset at the outset of the day determines our outcome. Whether we choose to attack the day or begrudgingly back into it determines how much we will get done.
And this has nothing to do with being a morning person or a night owl (but shout out to all my fellow morning people!).
Instead, it has everything to do with what we purpose in our hearts as valuable and worth investing in.
Our morning rituals have the chance to shape our souls, our character, our potential, and our enjoyment in life.
Habits on Purpose
Anyone who has worked with me knows we spend a lot of time talking about “habits on purpose.” Our morning rituals are no exception. Many of us waste large sections of our mornings instead of intentionally crafting them to serve us and help us reach our goals.
Two scenarios, which sounds more like you (be honest!):
“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.” – Richard Whatley
The alarm goes off. After snoozing the alarm a time or two, you begrudgingly get out of bed. Saunter down to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee. After waiting for it to brew, you put on the television, drink the cup of coffee, and pray for “a few moments of quiet.” The (real) problem is not that these moments aren’t quiet. Instead, it’s that they aren’t productive or stimulating. After an hour of television and another cup of coffee (or two), you manage to scrounge up a quick (and mostly unhealthy) breakfast, rush out the door, only to wait in traffic on the way to work. You spend the rest of the morning wondering how you’re going to fit in everything you have to do.
After work, you might rush off to the gym, if you’re feeling up to it, stagger in the door, and eat a quick bite of dinner with your family. Some more television, and on the good days a few pages of light reading before a late-night Netflix series as you pass out into bed.
The weekends, only somewhat different. Instead of filling your days with work, it’s full of a week’s worth of overlooked errands and obligations. By the time Sunday ends, you dread the thought of going back to work, still tired, still behind, and still wondering where all your time went.
The alarm goes off, but you were already stirring. Gently awakening from a good nights sleep, you quietly make your way to the kitchen. After drinking twenty ounces of water to rehydrate your body, you then make a small cup of coffee and tip-toe into the den. Here, you engage in thirty minutes of intentionally designed habits that give you life and direction. Scripture reading and prayer, meditation, yoga, and a good personal development book are frequent habits. After that, you sneak off to the gym for a good thirty-minute sweat session. You return home just as the rest of the family is waking up. You’re fully awake, charged up, and ready to attack the day. You enjoy a good, nutritious breakfast with your family before heading off to work with purpose and conviction.
After work, you are still awake enough to get a few critical errands done, work on your side hustle, and enjoy another meal with your family. After dinner, you enjoy a myriad of activities together: movies, books, chess, or sports. Whatever it is, you’re excited by the purpose and direction you’ve given your life.
The weekends are similar. They are intentionally designed, purpose-driven, and leave you excited for another week to grow, learn, and serve new people.
I’m guessing you identify with one of these stories.
I identify with both.
For years, I would have firmly placed myself in option one. My life was chaotic, disorganized, and I was “average” (at best).
After intentionally taking steps to counter this drift, seeking out some great coaches, and getting a grip on my life and my purpose, I now find myself firmly in option two.
The difference along the way for me has been a lot of intentional habits and disciplines, specifically and most importantly, my morning rituals.
Now, they’re far from perfect. Right now, my morning habits are really broken up into to separate blocks. That’s the status of my work life right now. Eventually, it will happen in one chunk as I sense that will work the best for me.
So while I may not have my “ideal” calendar of morning rituals in place, I do have a target. I know what I’m aiming for. Otherwise, I’m like the boy learning archery who shot an arrow and then ran over to pain the bullseye around it. Instead, I want to know what the target is and then put all of my effort and talent into hitting it every time.
Below are the habits of my morning ritual and roughly how much time I spend on each one.
20oz of water within ten minutes of waking up
1 cup of coffee
Bible Reading and Prayer (10-15 Minutes)
Personal Development Book (15-20 Minutes)
Exercise (45 minutes)
Within the first 90 minutes of my day, I have exercised my body, brain, and spiritual muscles. I have found that this gives me focus, intensity, and purpose to my days. I’m still tweaking exactly how to flow from one activity to the next more smoothly but would love to hear from you.
What are your morning rituals?
What are your daily habits and routines?
How are you using your time to intentionally invest in bettering yourself at the start of the day?