By now you’ve probably heard or read the saying, widely attributed to Aristotle, that “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Interesting and thought-provoking idea, once we take some time to really digest its application in our daily lives.
We are truly all creatures of habit. We have our routines that provide comfort and consistency in an otherwise chaotic world. When do we eat, sleep, exercise, read? What are the first few things we do when we get to work each morning? Or get home each evening? Got yours? Habits like these, and plenty of others, govern our thoughts and actions in ways we are not even conscious of. Good or bad, they operate on the subconscious level and exert tremendous influence over us.
The good news is that you also have the power to change. If your habits aren’t getting you where you want to go, perhaps it’s time to upgrade. Here’s a 3-Step model to get you going:
1. Think about your very best days. The ones in which you felt particularly motivated, creative and productive. Those days you lived out your best version of excellence. What were the 3 things you did on those days? It may take some time to observe and reflect. Maybe even start journaling until you have it. Once you do – install these 3 activities each and every day.
2. Think about your kryptonite. The days when things just felt like they went wrong. Nothing worked and you couldn’t wait to climb back under the covers and hit the reset button to start over again the next day. Chances are – there are some bad habits at work under the surface. Again, observe and reflect. Then – DELETE. Get rid of the kryptonite to make room for the good habits.
3. Finally – get your focus back. Put the most important things up front in your day so that your best self can go to work on them. Reject diverting your attention to the things that aren’t going to serve you. Could be your phone, TV, negative people, etc. etc. Free up time to create deep work on your most important tasks.
Putting excellence on autopilot means creating more positive habits and deleting the harmful ones. Then, it’s simply a function of spreading that secret sauce on your most important goals and objectives. It’s the “doing” that counts.