We’re all creatures of habits. Some of us have habits like morning meditation, drinking a gallon of water a day and calling our parents at least once a week to chat.
Some of us have habits like hitting our snooze five times, grabbing fast food on the way home, and scrolling social media for hours each night.
They are all habits and routines. Some serve us, and some don’t. As we gear up for the holiday season and settle in for the long winter months (at least for those of us up North!), let’s take this time to establish a solid routine that serves our mind, body, and soul and that will help us achieve success in all areas of our lives in the new year.
The key here is to start small. For those high achievers out there, this is going to be the first hurdle that you’ll have to overcome. I know you want to go all-in — right now. But change takes time. More often than not, changes in our life (good or bad) happen because of a quantum shift — those small yet significant changes.
So, what does that look like? Well, it could mean getting up 30 minutes early to meditate, send blessings into the world, journal or workout. Maybe that small adjustment to your daily schedule jumpstarts your day, helps you make a healthier choice for breakfast, which makes you feel great, so you don’t get annoyed when someone cuts you off in traffic, which causes you to open the door for a stranger, which in turn changes the course of their entire day and continues to change the rest of the actions you take over the next 24 hours.
Or perhaps you decide to get to the office at 8 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. Instead of getting distracted by email for an hour, you jump into an hour of role-playing and practicing call scripts with a team member. By the end of that hour, you have a new arsenal of tools to use when you need an objection handler, and you’re warmed up and ready to attack the day with confidence, which leads to you landing a new client, which leads to more confidence, which leads to more clients.
The ripple effect is real, and it can have a dramatic impact on your life. And it’s started with that one small act of getting up earlier or choosing a new activity with which to begin your workday.
It’s so easy to get caught up in wanting great outcomes and significant results in our life. I’m guilty of it too. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I never want people to stop thinking big. But the trouble people run into is when they believe a significant result only comes from big events, like winning the lottery or getting a “lucky” break at work.
So, they wait around waiting for these big events to happen, and in the meantime, they are missing the entire point! Don’t wait and wish for it. Significant outcomes come from small changes and actions and a lot of work.
What area of your life are you currently experiencing the most significant challenge or the most suffering? Maybe it’s your health. Perhaps it’s your relationship with your mother. Maybe it’s debt.
Identify that thing for you, and then search for the small change or tweak to your life that you can make that will have the most significant impact. Your life doesn’t change by doing one thing, one time. It’s all about those small incremental shifts over time. These small actions then become your habits, which ultimately change the entire way you think.
Remember, you don’t have to change everything all at once! This is what often paralyzes people. Just choose those very, very small actions. At first, it will seem like they don’t even matter. But stick with it! It’s the small action, compounded over time, that leads to tremendous results.
The problem is, very few people have the discipline to keep pushing through, to master the boredom, to keep doing the small action that doesn’t seem to matter, until one day, it does. Slowly, slowly, and then suddenly, you will achieve those significant results you are looking for. But only if you take that one small step first.
Is your biggest challenge your health? Get up 15 minutes early each day and walk. Eventually, you will begin to run. Is your biggest challenge your relationship with your mother? Forgive her. Let go of any resentment you are holding onto. That is only hurting you. Is your biggest cause for suffering debt? Start putting $5 a week toward your credit card payments.
You won’t solve these problems overnight. After all, you didn’t gain extra weight overnight or get into a significant amount of debt overnight. It’s going to take time. But the only way to get there is by keeping the end in mind and then getting to work on the small changes.
I have developed a particular rhythm to my days, and it’s going to seem like I’ve got this whole routine thing down. And for the most part, I do. But it does not come naturally, and it hasn’t always been this way. Not too many years ago, I cursed mornings, stayed up late, and got pissed when I had something scheduled in my calendar. I felt like my time was being robbed, and someone else was controlling my life. Sound familiar?
It took many, many months of discipline to realize that my time was not being stolen. If I was strategic and purposeful about what I was doing, I was investing my time. I was not spending my time in meetings; I was investing minutes with my leadership team to provide significant returns for my organization. That was one big mindset shift for me!
I still struggle a bit when I look at my calendar and see most of my time blocked off, but I know it’s what I must do to lead the life I desire. My days’ rhythm and routine are incredibly helpful in times of uncertainty, stress, or when there are just many challenges being thrown my way. I know I can always go back to my daily routine to recenter and recharge for what lies ahead.
Here’s an example of my daily routine:
- 4:18 a.m. – Wake up and immediately drink a glass of water and go outside for a few deep breaths of fresh air: (yes, even when it’s below 10 degrees and snowing or when it’s humid and 95 degrees. The point is to shock the system and move quickly into a different state.)
- 4:35 a.m. – Meditate for 20 minutes: (I practice transcendental meditation)
- 5 a.m. – Journal: I have several different journals I write in each day while drinking a cup of black coffee. I use Evernote to journal in four different journals:
- Life journal: This is a stream of consciousness where I write about my life, my thoughts, my challenges, my successes, the good, the bad and the ugly.
- Gratitude journal: I write everything I am grateful for, usually 70-100 things that come to mind. I just keep it flowing.
- Gratitude journal for my wife: Every day, I write something different about her that I am grateful for.
- Journal for my kids: Each child (I have two girls and a boy) has a separate journal, and I write something about each of them — something new they learned, a milestone, a moment we shared, etc. — and almost always add a photo to it too.
- 5:45 a.m. – Affirmations and goal setting: I review my future self (go here to create your own), 411, personal financial statement and say my affirmations.
- 6 a.m. – Work out and check emails: I workout at home. Depending on my training schedule, it could be a 13-mile run or a bike ride. During this time (especially if it’s a cycling workout), I quickly check emails and set the course for the day for my company. I usually shoot off a few emails touching base with my leadership team and share any ideas or items that need action. I also always listen to a book on Audible or podcast while working out.
- 7:30 a.m. – Family time: This includes making breakfast for myself and the kids every morning. And then I head to the office around 8:30 a.m.
- 8:30-11:30 a.m. – Focused work and meetings
- 11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Lunch, 20-minute meditation, catch up on emails and calls
- 1-4:30 p.m. – Focused work and meetings
- 5-8 p.m. – Outdoor activities and family time
- 8 p.m. – Emails
- 8:30-9 p.m. – Bed: Sometimes, I watch an episode of Yellowstone or Billions, but I generally subscribe to Ben Franklin’s saying, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
Establishing a new routine is not easy. It’s going to feel uncomfortable, and you may feel like you’re going backward for a time. That’s OK. Embrace it. Let go. As you are beginning to grow spiritually, professionally, physically, etc., with your new routine, it’s going to get uncomfortable!
You’re going to have to get vulnerable for a time. You’re going to feel like you’re failing. People are going to question what you are doing. You are going to have to shed old identities and strip away your ego.
But I guarantee that you will emerge with more confidence, a strong sense of self, more significant results, and an even larger capacity to give. The suffering and struggle are worth it. Choose your struggle, make small changes, and get ready for big results.
Adam Hergenrother is the founder and CEO of Adam Hergenrother Companies, the author of The Founder & The Force Multiplier, and the host of the podcast, Business Meets Spirituality. Learn more about Adam’s holistic approach to business here.