Have you ever been distracted while driving and then suddenly arrived at your destination, wondering how you even got there? Too often, we go through life on autopilot like this, only to realize later that we’ve lost sight of our passions and goals along the way. Life doesn’t have to pass you by, though.
Steve Jobs, who was a master of living and working purposefully, learned to seize control over his success and his life by asking himself one important question in the mirror every morning:
“‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ If the Answer is ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
At first glance, thinking about your mortality at the start of the day might sound bleak. But in practice, it’s actually incredibly motivating and filled with the optimistic hope that you can do better every single day.
Here are just a couple of ways that practicing self-awareness techniques like this one can help you rediscover your passion, improve your success, and enjoy life to the fullest:
This has happened to all of us at some point: you get to work, and before you know it, your schedule is crammed with minutia and unimportant tasks. Then, it’s already nighttime, and you haven’t accomplished anything of meaning.
Steve Jobs’ mirror technique nips this issue in the bud. By stripping away the inessential and making a daily effort to focus on your strengths, you’ll find what I like to call your Genius Zone. The Genius Zone is about finding that idea or talent that only you can do that gives your life or career meaning and success.
For instance, in my early days of founding my firm, I found myself dragged down in administrative work as the business grew. Of course, some people love those tasks, but I was straying away from investing — my Genius Zone. I had to hire some admins to ensure I stayed focused, and you should delegate tasks or pursue a new career to do the same.
Another helpful technique that can increase self-awareness and productivity is one that was coined by Benjamin Franklin. At the start of his day, Franklin would ask himself, “What good shall I do this day?” And before he went to sleep at night he’d ask, “What good have I done this day?”
Doing this will help you be accountable to yourself at the end of the day, which is scientifically proven to increase the odds of following through on your goals. This trick can be as simple as making a mental list, but writing your deeds out on paper and seeing them on a page is even better reinforcement.
I recommend writing down at least 3 tiny goals each morning that you’ll want to accomplish with your limited time on earth that day. If you don’t accomplish all of them, that’s fine; the key is that you’re making a conscious effort to improve and pursue your passions.
Every morning, I think about the impact I’m going to make at work that very day. It wakes me up more than the strongest cup of coffee ever will.
As soon as you wake up, spend a few minutes each morning focusing on the positive change you’ll make during your workday to get motivated. I’m not saying you need to invent the new iPhone; it can be something as small as improving one customer’s morning.
Harvard studies have found that mentally prepping yourself to have a good morning mood affects your whole workday. Finding meaning and purpose as soon as you wake up has been proven to boost productivity, increase focus, and — strangely enough — even improve your grammar.
Are there any questions you ask yourself in the morning? I’d love to hear them — give me a shout-out on Twitter!
Originally published at www.inc.com on November 23, 2016.
Originally published at medium.com