Are you living your best life?
And what does that mean to you? It means something different to everybody – it’s a unique intention. You may define it in a very different way to that of your partner or your colleagues or your parents. And that’s fine. That’s the whole point. Living your best life needs to be your best life and not somebody else’s.
And what does it mean in terms of how you do it?
In reality, you’re not going to be living your best life every day in every single moment but the cumulative effect of doing that, in as many moments of your day as you can, will start to compound over time to actually create a much bigger effect, and will mean that you spend much more of your time living your best life.
I’m a real believer in taking small daily actions to achieve stuff, but also to be in a different place over a period of time. So what things can you do and what things can you change right now, in order to keep building that opportunity of living your best life.
1. Get Really Clear On What You Want
One of the first steps of my ‘Simple’ Fundamental is to work out what you want to do and what you don’t want to do. Then the next step is to work out how you can align your activity with that.
And that’s exactly the same here, start by working out who you want to be, what you want your life to look like, how you want to be living your life on a year to year, month to month, week to week, moment to moment basis. Many people haven’t really worked that out. Many people haven’t really thought about it. Many people don’t think that they can make changes that will have a big impact on their life and hence don’t bother to work out what they might be.
It’s easier to sit here and say “I’m not happy where I am”. It’s much harder to think about where you want to be and then work out what your path is to get there.
So, the first step is to figure out what type of person you want to be, what type of life you want to have and what type of days and moments you want to have.
2. Practise Habit Stacking
The idea of habit stacking is that you add activities together so that one thing triggers something else, or gives you time to do something else at the same time.
One of the things that I do in terms of habit stacking is that I love having a coffee late morning and I want to read business books and articles. So, I try to take that time when I’ve got my coffee to actually spend that time reading too. Just putting those two things together creates a trigger. And it also creates a sort of ritual where I feel like it’s time to read because I’ve got that coffee sat next to me. And, if I can do that and sit in the garden, and get some fresh air and a bit of sun at the same time, then all to the good!
Another very simple example is when you’re wanting to floss your teeth. Obviously you are already brushing your teeth – at least I would hope you are on a regular basis 😀 – and you can build in the habit to floss at the same time.
In fact that’s worked for me recently (and this is probably too much information!) in that I have started, over the last few months, to follow a particular routine in terms of skincare at night. I brush my teeth and then I clean my face using coconut oil, twice, before I then put my night cream on. And, it’s interesting the amount of times where it’s really late, and I don’t want to do it because it takes a bit of time but, because I brush my teeth, it triggers me into feeling like I need to do the next bit, and that’s what I tend to do. It’s now rare that I miss doing it now even though it’s something that, quite often, I don’t feel like doing until that moment where that habit stacking kicks in.
Co-incidently I read this article by Mark Sisson whilst I was thinking about and preparing this article – about the benefits of using habit stacking to connect small bursts of movement and exercise with other habits and activities that you are already doing throughout your day.
3. Use The Two Minute Rule
Instead of committing to doing something for 20 minutes or half an hour or an hour, start with 2 minutes. Or if you’re going to go for a walk, and you don’t think you’re going for long enough, and you’re doing 20 minutes, then do 22 minutes this time, and so on.
It’s much easier to do something for 2 minutes or to add 2 minutes to an existing activity than it is to carve out 20 minutes or 30 minutes to do something.
For anything you want to get started with, start with at least a 2 minute option, and then build from there.
4. Set Clear Boundaries and Get Good at Saying No
Boundaries are really important for us to look after ourselves and to maintain our energy to be able to do the things that we want to do, and in some cases, need to do.
If we don’t set boundaries and we don’t communicate those to the people around us, and we don’t get used to saying no, then we can often end up taking on far too much.
The first step for that is working out what your boundaries are.
It might be that you are only going to coach on certain days or between certain times, or you’re only going to be ‘on’ for your business during certain hours. It might be that you’re going to only do certain hobbies and not do other things where you don’t really enjoy them and you’ve only been doing them because other people have persuaded you to. It might be that you always invite certain people to activities because you feel obliged to do so but actually you don’t enjoy them being there and they often cause issues. How can you ensure that you don’t invite them or arrange different events where they don’t expect to be invited.
What are your boundaries and how can you make sure that you maintain them?
5. Identify As That Person
In step one we talked about being clear about who you want to be and what you want to do, and what you want your life to look like. What could be really helpful is to ‘identify’ as that person all the way through.
So, if you’re trying to eat more healthily, or you’re trying to sleep better, then instead of saying, I’m trying to do any of those things, the idea is to say that that is what you do.
But first, let’s start with the ‘try’ word. One of my good friends Chris, known as The Mindset Man, has stopped me using the word ‘try’. Anytime I go to use the word, I remember how much he kept reminding me in past about the fact that ‘try’ means nothing. It really just means that you’ve already decided you’re probably not going to achieve whatever it is you’re saying you’re going to do! So, anytime I go to use ‘try’, I have to reevaluate my perspective on the thing that I’ve just said I’m going to ‘try’ to do and decide if I really intend to do it, and then go from there, with different phrasing of course!
So, we’re not going to ‘try’ to do anything. What we’re going to do is use words that say who we are.
“I’m someone who eats healthily.” I’m not ‘going’ to eat healthy. I’m not going to ‘try’ to eat healthily. I ‘am’ somebody who eats healthily.
“I am somebody who sleeps well.” I don’t ‘try’ to sleep well. I ‘do’ sleep well.
You know, that may not always work and it may not always be true, but certainly starting with that affirmation of the thing that you want to do or the person you want to be is a really good way to make sure it happens, as much as you can.
And it gives you confidence.
I remember when I first started in business I was a publisher, but I didn’t tell anyone that because I also had a job as an HR director. I used to introduce myself something along the lines of, “I’m working in HR and I’ve started a business publishing magazines”. When I left my HR role I I can still remember the moment at that first event I went to where I actually had to say I was a publisher, because I’d now ‘lost’ my HR director hat. It was really quite hard to say that! It shouldn’t have been because that was the point – I was in a business that I’d started where I was publishing magazines and I should have been ‘identifying’ as a publisher, but it was really hard to do so because I didn’t have enough confidence at the time. As soon as I started to ‘admit’ that I was a publisher, it helped to build my confidence and, in turn, the success of the business.
6. Find the Right, Supportive Community
Look for a community that enables you to further become that person that you want to be.
You’ve heard people talking about surrounding yourself with like minded people and about being the combination of the five people you spend most time with. If you take that as a truth, then the idea is you need to find those people that will help you to be the person that you want to be, and arrange to spend most of your time with them.
So, look at how you do that, whether that be with colleagues in business, or through networking events, or by joining a programme or a membership, like POWER to Live More. My online membership is for home based coaches and consultants who want get unstuck, get stuff done and get to live more. If you want to be somebody who identifies with that, surrounded by people in a similar position, then my membership is a great place to meet other people with the same mindset. You can find out more at POWER to Live More CALM.
7. It’s A Marathon Not A Sprint
Don’t think that if you don’t do the thing you said you’re going to do, when you said you were going to do it, that all is lost. Quite often, if we think about, for example, eating healthily, we say “I’m somebody who eats healthily” and then you eat something you decided you’re not going to eat and, now you’ve fallen off the wagon, it’s like the end of the world and you spend the next few days binge eating all the rubbish you’ve been previously avoiding!
It’s a reaction to believing that you’ve failed and that you’re no longer the person that you said you were going to be. And I think that’s the thing. If you’re thinking about developing habits and you’re thinking about identifying as somebody different, just a brief slip is not stopping you being that person. It’s just a little blip and you need to get back on that wagon straight away and not throw everything away because you think you’ve made a mistake.
It’s not a rule of life that we can’t make mistakes or that we can’t do something different to what we’ve said, on occasions. The real measure of who you are and what you do moving forward is exactly that, what you do moving forwards!
8. Practise, Practise, Practise
Continuing to practise and build habits can be really helpful in terms of continuing to do the things that you want to do. One of the ways to do that is to create some momentum by setting a goal and determining the required daily activity to get there, set over a period of time.
Then create some sort of visual reminder of your progress: you might have a chart on the wall where you tick it off every day. Or you could use an app – there’s one app that we use within my CALM membership, Habitshare, where you can create the habit that you want in there and then every day you can tick it off or, if you don’t do whatever it is, you can explain why you didn’t. And it’s something that you can, if you want external accountability, share with other people so that they can see via their app, whether you’re keeping to what you said you’re going to do on a daily basis.
And remember, the whole concept of taking small daily actions can be helpful in terms of not only setting a habit in place but also to make compounded leaps and bounds in terms of progress.
One of my favourite books is The Slight Edge, and that’s the concept that is talked about throughout the book. If you’re doing something small every day over a long period of time it will have a much bigger effect in the end than if you manage to do one big ‘thing’ occasionally.
So, set a goal, decide what you’re going to do on a daily basis to reach that goal and then just take that small daily action. I’d say about 20 minutes is the maximum. You don’t want to do anything that’s any more onerous than that. I use the ‘rule’ that you want the amount of time it takes to be just the amount that you can still fit in if you’ve forgotten to do it and it’s time to get to bed and you just need to get it done so you can tick it off. How much is that period of time? It might just be 10 minutes for you.
9. Get Really Clear About The Task
Get really clear about what you’re going to do and what that means in terms of action to move things forward. One of the things that is interesting when we set ourselves goals, tasks, objectives, and plans for the future is that we can be very generic and those things can be too abstract. That doesn’t help at all when working out our actions and creating habits to achieve those plans.
For example, if we say that we’re going to be more healthy, what does that mean in terms of what we’re going to eat, how much exercise we’re going to do, how much sleep we’re going to have, and what we’re going to do to de-stress. What does that mean in terms of tangible actions?
If you say you are going to sell more in your business or you’re going to be successful and you’re going to have more customers in three months time, what does it mean that you have to do on a daily basis in order to get you to whatever that that goal is? Because you can’t just say, “well that’s going to happen” and then hope for the best. You’ve got to get really clear on what actions you need to be taking. And if you can turn those actions into a habit because you’re doing the same thing every day or in a routine sort of way, three times a week or whatever, then all to the better.
10. Ensure They Are Small Daily Actions
I’ve talked already about small daily actions, just remember not to start too big. If you decide that you’re going to do an hour of something every day, and then you manage it for three days and then it’s just too much, that won’t work.
In that case, don’t give up completely, ratchet it back, go back to half an hour or 20 minutes or 10 minutes or even five minutes or maybe even two minutes, taking it back to the two minute rule.
Go as small as you need to in order to keep something going on a consistent daily basis.
One of the things to think about with habits and habit stacking is, for example, if you want to go to the gym or you want to go running every day, actually make the first habit you develop something like putting your trainers on.
And your second habit might be filling your water bottle or getting your phone ready to play music. The more you can get those little things happening all the time. Then, the more that they trigger the next step which will ultimately lead you to taking that run.
If you remember, earlier I talked about my coffee and reading, and how those things drive each other and how my face cleaning regime is triggered by the tooth brushing – in the end, whether I want it to be or not!
Tiny habits are the things that will really enable us to keep pushing forward to live that life that we want to live. If you think about it our daily lives are generally built on a series of tiny habits. We might not think they are, but if you think about all the things that you do every day and every week, many of those things are habitual.
Many of those things happen every day or every week in a certain way, triggered by certain behaviours, and the more we can make those things become the positive actions that we want to take to get us to where we feel like we’re living our best life then, the better.
If you’re not living your best life at the moment, or only parts of it are what you would consider to be your best life, then focus on the bits that aren’t. Identify them, think about what you need to change and what habits you could develop in order to help you to make those changes, and then start to put that into practice.
If you’re interested in getting some help with that, linked with some accountability, then join us over at POWER to Live More CALM