5 Habits that Can Dramatically Improve Your Life

11.6.2018 | Forge Performance

5 Habits that Can Dramatically Improve Your Life

As a facility that is totally obsessed with human optimization, we’ve found that there’s one aspect of life that’s holding people back. It isn’t the best possible workout. It’s not some magical diet that gets the best results. The real secret to success in health, fitness, or anything, is time management.

When we talk about time management, we don’t mean 10-20 temporary life hacks. We’re talking about lasting, sustainable habits that improve our lives from the inside out. We’ve identified 5 habits that you can apply RIGHT NOW to dramatically change your effectiveness in life.

  1. Schedule your life week by week
  2. Create non-negotiable time to take care of yourself
  3. Prioritize your schedule by your roles and responsibilities
  4. Give gratitude on a daily basis
  5. Reflect on the wins, losses, and lessons you learned on a daily basis

Taking Ownership

Before we begin, there’s one thing we must cover. YOU are solely responsible for anything and everything that happens in your life. The most successful people in the world, regardless of their profession, assume responsibility for everything that happens to them. Before you can truly be successful in any aspect of your life, you MUST accept total responsibility.

As humans, we often look outwardly at who is to blame for certain situations. But when it comes to our lives, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Everything we do comes down to a choice we choose to make. There’s no master puppeteer pulling the strings. If you’re not of this mindset, becoming successful in any aspect of your life will be much more difficult. If you find yourself coming to grips with this idea, ask yourself “If I’m not in total control, then who is?”

Shift Our Focus

The second thing we must do is shift our focus from what is Urgent to what is Important. Our lives are basically broken down into 4 categories as depicted in the matrix below; 1. Urgent and Important, 2. Non-Urgent and Important, 3. Urgent and Non-Important, 4. Non-Urgent and Non-Important.

The majority of us find ourselves spending most of our time in categories 1 and 3. When we “have time”, we fill the void with activities in category 4. Although this lifestyle is certainly spontaneous, it isn’t flexible. You become a slave to your schedule, reacting to every category 1 and 3 task that is thrown at you. This leaves you with just enough energy to resort to activities that distract us from the outside world, but do nothing to enrich us physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. In regards to health and fitness specifically, these habits typically show up in poor eating habits, sleeping routines, and a lack of exercise.

Now that we understand where it is we want to go, let’s break down these habits one by one.

The 5 Habits

1. Weekly Schedule

There are a few different ways people choose to schedule themselves. Some people write out their schedule daily. Others will keep a master task list that tracks all the things they “need” to do. While all scheduling and time management systems have their merit, there is one that stands out above all the others.

When you schedule yourself a week at a time, you allow yourself the opportunity to focus on what is really important. Scheduling yourself daily or keeping a task list places our focus on what is Urgent versus what is most Important. We wind up taking care of only what is on our mind currently, not what we know to be the things that matter most. The things that have the biggest impact on our effectiveness and daily lives.

Some people will argue that this style of scheduling does not allow for flexibility and spontaneity. We argue the complete opposite. Not only does this style of scheduling allow for spontaneous adventure, it allows it in areas that are most beneficial to your life; your happiness, your stress relief, your physical and mental well-being.

2. Take Care of Yourself

“Be selfish with your time, so you can be selfless with your life.”

We talk about this over and over again. You can’t take care of anyone else unless you take care of yourself first. Our ability to help others is impacted based on our ability to help ourselves. A car can’t operate without gasoline and regular tune-ups, and you can’t either.

We realize this mindset and approach is easier said than done, but we could give you countless examples of people who have dramatically changed their lives by learning to be selfish with their time so that they could be selfless with their life. In your weekly schedule, the first thing we are going to do is make time where we can take care of ourselves in the following areas:

  1. Physical

    Identify time throughout the week where you will participate in regular exercise. We recommend at least 3 days per week, but a daily practice is preferred. This practice does not have to be the same each day. For instance, you could do intense resistance training one day, yoga on another day, or just go for a brisk walk later in the week

  2. Emotional

    We all have sources for how we reinvigorate ourselves emotionally. This is typically time with our spouse, children, friends or parents. Carve out time to spend with people you have the deepest connections with. They’ll appreciate it just as much as you do. It may be difficult to do this daily, but we highly recommend making time to do this on a weekly basis.

  3. Mental

    Our brains crave continuous learning. The best part is, it doesn’t have to be scholastic, structured learning. You can dive into any category that you wish, just so long as you are constantly looking to learn, grow, and improve. This can be done via reading books, listening to podcasts, watching TED talks, etc. Carve out time in your schedule to grow daily. It could be as little as 15 minutes, but we find 30-60 minutes serves most people the best.

  4. Spiritual

    This is an area people often get confused. When we use the term spiritual, we’re referring to activities that nourish our soul. They make us feel good, even if we aren’t quite sure why. Activities such as meditation, prayer, or even writing in a journal. We recommend performing this practice daily.

By making time in all of these areas, we have covered our Category 2 activities, the ones that contribute to our health and well-being so we can better take care of our roles and responsibilities in life.

3. Roles and Responsibilities

We all have roles we play in life. Most of us are a spouse, a parent, or have a job where they are responsible for a variety of roles. The problem is, in the rat race of daily life, some our roles get neglected by what we call passive choice. Meaning we chose our activities that would keep us from choosing other activities, but probably would’ve done otherwise if given the chance to recognize the initial error.

When you schedule out your week, right down your roles and responsibilities on the side of the schedule. This might look something like this:

  1. Parent (family)
  2. Spouse (family)
  3. Marketer (job)
  4. Salesperson (job)
  5. Primary Caregiver (home)

Most people will have between 3 and 5 roles, but we should limit ourselves to 7. Underneath those roles, list all of the major, important tasks that need to happen THIS WEEK. As you’re writing these down, ask yourself, “Is this the best use of my time? Is this something that NEEDS my time right now?” Over time, you’ll become extremely proficient at choosing the activities that require your immediate attention, while delegating less important, less pressing tasks.

Don’t Strive for Balance

It’s important to note that you won’t always achieve balance. The goal isn’t to have an equal amount of activities in under each role. The goal is to gain clarity as to which aspect of your life needs the most attention currently. Doing this provides you with the structure to be more successful in all the areas of your life that matter to you most, the mental clarity that you aren’t missing anything that’s truly important to you, the self awareness of how to better spend your time throughout the week. Structuring your life in this way will allow the flexibility and spontaneity to do the things you actively choose, not passively revert to doing based off of poor habits.

Now that we have actively made time for the most important areas of our lives, it’s time to address two small, but extremely powerful and meaningful sub-habits that were addressed indirectly in the Take Care of Yourself section of this article; Daily Gratitude and Daily Reflection.

4. Daily Gratitude

Giving thanks daily is one of the best ways to re-frame your brain. When you truly give thanks for the things you already have, it enables you to tap into the mindset needed to achieve the things you ultimately want. You spend less time dwelling on the things and more time discovering solutions and solving problems. Each morning, we highly recommend writing down 3 things you’re grateful for.

These 3 things can be something as simple as “running water”, or something as deep as “the health and well-being of my family”. The only rule is that you actively, deeply express gratitude for the things you write.

5. Daily Reflection

Every day is an opportunity to learn. The issue is that life moves at such a fast pace, we often lose the opportunity to remember what we learned; how ironic! This is why we recommend spending time to reflect on your day. Take 5-15 minutes daily to sit quietly and think, record, or write down the days events. What was good/bad about your day? What did you learn about yourself that can alter your responses to situations, your actions in the moment to better yourself and your effectiveness?

These 5 habits are the cornerstone to YOU changing your life. There is no better coach out there than yourself. Following these 5 habits will create the self-awareness and prioritization necessary for you to succeed, grow, and contribute to not only your life, but the lives of the people who matter to you most.