Now onto changing our actions. I hate to be so black and white, but what we “do” is who we are. If you walk around life doing “mean” things consistantly, I would say you are a “mean” person. If you are constantly doing generous things, I would say you are a “generous” person. If most days of the week, or for the month for that matter, you are “lazy”, I would conclude you are probably a “lazy” person.
Now before you go flying off the handle and say – “Yeah, but what if…”, “How can you say that if I also do…”, or “Actions aren’t everything because…”, I would tell you to relax and keep reading. Note in the pervious paragraph I used words and phrases like “consistantly”, “constantly” and “most days…”. My point is that you have to look at your “regular” actions, not those that happen once in a while. Therefore, I know the “mean” person can be nice every once in a while, the “generous” person can be selfish, and the lazy person once in a blue moon can actually get up and do something. However, what I’m talking about is the majority of your actions. Fair enough?
Here are three things you can “do”, to lead to higher standards and the change you want:
A. Daily Actions: What is an action you can take everyday, at a scheduled time? Walk two miles? Eat breakfast? Use cash instead of credit cards? Say I love you to your special someone? Read ten pages in a book? If you want a higher standard in your life, you have to change what you do everyday. Therefore, if you want to pick up a new positive habit, I would encourage you to do it everyday… especially in the beginning. Want to learn how to speak Arabic? Practice every day, but here is the key, shedule it at the same time everyday so it becomes something you schedule other things around.
Want to get healthier? Schedule a walk around the small pond which is outside your office, at the same time every day. On days off, such as the weekend, walk your neighborhood at the same time you would walk if you were at work. Are there flexibility for “days off”? Absoultely, but schedule them. Don’t pick one or two days a week, based on how you feel, your work load or even the weather. For example, schedule a brisk walk everyday at work right after lunch from 1-1:30pm, Monday through Friday, around the vacant parking lot next door. Keep an extra pair of shoes, a rain coat and unbrella in your cubical, which you never take home.
These are regular scheduled actions you take everyday, and if an earthquake or terrorist attack happens, you reschedule it an hour or two later, never putting it off until the next day. Write it in your planner, tell your friends and co-workers about it, and reward yourself when you hit “x” amount of days in a row.
B. First Things First: Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits books, and numerous other material, taught about doing first things first. Do what is most important to you first thing in a project, at the office, at the start of your day, etc. Arnold Schwartzenegger also taught about targeting your “problem” areas first thing in your workouts. Have small calves (as he did early in his bodybuilding career), work them out first, when your focus and intensity is high. Same thing with abs, arms, or even your speed if your agility needs improvement.
I would advise you to take action on whatever you want to change first thing in the morning. If you want to get a solid cardio workout in throughout the week, make sure your shoes and workout outfit are right by your bed, so you can throw them on and get out the door even before you’ve wiped the sleep out of your eyes. Want to start cooking more dinners at home? Why not make dinner before you leave for work, and throw it in the fridge. Think you’ll be too tired when you get home from work to crack open the new recipe book? You probably will, more often than not. So take action first thing when you get up.
Speaking for my office work, relating to my job, I try to get all important items done before lunch, and the real important things done within the first hour of sitting at my desk. Amazingly, I find I have more time in the second part of my day, and I feel like I’ve accomlished so much more (hint, because I have). When we put things off, we either connect horrible associations to them, and/or we procrasinate until we “run out of hours in the day”.
Here is what I do, when I have stuff I hate to do, but which needs to get done, I attack it first! I set a timer and challenge myself to get it done within “x” time. Do I finish most of the time, within the allotted time, yes. Do I always? No. But I tell you what, I feel completely different when I attack it first, and give myself an allotted time block to get it done. It energizes me, challenges me and motivates me to get it done. 60-75% of the time when I do finish it before time is up, I feel like I an accomplish anything.
This is the truth: I’m writing this right now, because I set a 90 minute timer to get done a couple things I’ve put off for a couple weeks. I finished in half the time, and now I get to do something I love more, which is writing. Man do I feel great now… and I still have 10 minutes before lunch. I got done what I needed to get done in the first half of the day, plus I got to do things I wanted to do. Try it and you’ll become addicted to taking action first thing in your day!
I’ll give the last action secret, and tie this thing up next week!