Successful people do this, I mean, at least they are all talking about it nonstop. You can find a lot of stuff online, but it all goes very similar like this: “Look at me, I am getting up at 5 am in the morning, than I immidiatley go outside to the beach, you know, breathing in the fresh air that blows in my face while I watch the sunrise on the horizon. The morning light is shining in my face, as I walk close to the shore, hearing the ocean waves crashing on to the beach. What a wonderful day! After doing my breathing exercise and the casual run on the sandy ground, I am ready for my 20 minutes meditation session in my wonderful garden. I follow a small path, made out of wooden flotsam that I have collected, until I reach my meditation place. Far away from all distractions, I finaly reach my destination underneath an at least one century old tree. I sit down on a grey cushion that is just soft enough to give me a reason to sit on it and my meditation can begin. Taking a deep breath in, waiting, still waiting and out. The world around me starts to fade away. My mind is free, my soul is calm. Now I can tackle what ever comes my way!”
Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t start in the day like this? I mean, come on! That is so wonderful! That is the dream! Don’t you think so?
“Well, I mean, it sounds nice, to be honest! But that is not really practical for me! First of all, I do not life at the beach and I do not even have a garden, oh and I definitely do not have two hours in the morning for doing literally nothing more than breathing, fooling around and sit on hard and unconfortable cushion. Oh, and what really strikes me here, is the 5 am thing! Hell no, I will not get up at 5 am! Are you mad?”
And there we have it. We know, we should do it, but we can not possibly do it. So we do not do it. Or we try, fail, and stop doing it. What to be honest, is even worse, because than we feel upset about both, not doing it and our failure of not continuing it.
“So what is your genious idea? Do a 20 minutes session in my living room? Already tried that one, it is not the same!”
Yes and no. I want you to have a routine. But not “a routine”, I want you to have “your routine”. And if you feel like blasting out a 20 minutes session in the morning, by all means, go ahead! But for all the others, I want so suggest something else. Trying to meditate for over five years now, I can tell you, that this is not so easy if you have an active mind like I have. But we will discuss this topic at another time.
What I want you to start today, is just a very short exercise that will take you just five minutes in the evening. Starting tonight, the last thing you will do is laying in bed and closing your eyes. Taking one breath in, hold it, hold it and out. Now we are ready. I want you to do the following:
- Describe your day in a few sentences to yourself.
- What kind of mistakes did I do? What have I learned today? Doing some lessons learned.
- How does tomorrow look like? What am I going to do?
The monologue can be like this, or just the way you prefer it to be.
“Today, I got up at 5:45am and went straight to work. At work I was really pissed about my boss, because he does not realise the problem we will face with this behaviour in the future. After work I went home, practised on the racing simulator for two hours, have done a light one hour workout before I studied italian on the balcony. I really should have been harder in the dogfight I had in the last lap on the sim. This guy took my second place way to easy! Next time I will not make this mistake again and let open the inside of the corner. Tomorrow, I will go to work as usual. I will have four meetings in the morning but in the afternoon I do not have any meetings, therefore I finaly will plan on finishing this task I really need to do at work. After work I will ride my roadbike and have a conversation with my language partner from Italy.”
But what is the benefit of doing all of this? Why is this supposed to help me in anyway? And where is the connection to daily habits?
Well, as the title of this post already suggest, there is a power within a routine. If you now, that you are going to have your soccer practice on Tuesday and Thursday. You just go there and do your damn practice. If you do not have a certain event planned, it is more like an internal fight. “Should I do it now? Or maybe later? Should I eat something first? And so on, and so on.” Therfore I suggest you, to start on planning what you want to do every single day. But please do not create a life schedule, where every single minute of your life is planned in a certain way. Because this in not working anyway, you can not predict the future.
Therefor I highly recommend you to work with this system. Just decide one day ahead what you will do. And on the next day, keep track of what you have done. If you have done all the things you have planned. Fantastic job, mate! Maybe you can do more tomorrow. You have not done anything you have planned? Why is that the case? Anaylse the problem, figure out a solution, and tomorrow, you have your next chance. Day by Day, one step at a time.
Having suffered from a full calender early on during my youth, where every single day of the week was planned for a certain activity like soccer, table tennis, keyboard lessons or something else. I escaped this situation through quitting one thing after the other, until finally, there was nothing left. Having learned from this experience, I try to hold the balance between set dates and more flexible ones, because there is not much in this life I hate more, than the need to do a certain thing at a certain time. I more often tend to feel kind of “blocked” in these situations, when I need to hustle from one appointment to the other and this does not only harm me physically, but also attacks my productivity. Therfore I found a way in my day to day planning, where I try to tell myself all the time, that I am in control of what I want to do or not and than just do the things, without thinking about the next task.
Obviously, this strategy was not invented by myself, I was just listening to some ultra endurance athlets when they were talking about keeping your focus under extrem conditions. And some of them use a kind of “Just that mile strategy” where they would say to themself: “Oh come on, just that mile! You can run a mile!” And after finishing it, they just say something like: “Just that mile! You can run that! It is not that far!” And this goes on and on and on. Because they do not actually fight their physical strength, they fight their physiological strength. The mind is the thing, that tries everything to stop you from going on.
Talking about my real life experience here, I was once in Switzerland to climb some mountains with the bike and had enough chances to try this out at first hand. To be honest, it is really not that simple, because, I mean, you can not fool yourself, so, your mind kind of knows what you are thinking, in exactly that moment. So it really is not easy to do and I kind of experienced an on and off situation all the way up that fucking long hill. At the beginning of the tour, or on the first alpine pass, your body is fresh and you mind as well. Therfore you do not even think about using this strategy. It would not work. But after a few hours, maybe on the second half of the second climb, you tend to feel an upcoming inner drive that says: “Just stop doing this, it is so freaking cold up here, it hurts, this seat is so uncomfortable. Why are you doing this to me?” And this is the moment I waited for, this is the moment, where you can use this strategy and win the internal fight. “Just to the next bend! Look! You are already there! It is so close!” And after reaching it, you just do the same thing again. Over and over. And over and over! Until finally, you have not only reached the top, where all those tourists are looking at you and your red and sweating face and they are checking out your sexy skintight cycling shorts and your shirt you probably have washed at least three times too hot. But you ignore those looks, because you have made it! Not only have you reached the top, but you also learned a lesson for your future.
“Ok, nice story, bro! But you are far off topic Mr. cycling shorts!”
So back to your daily routine. What do you need to do? You need to plan on doing something and than just do it. And after the first thing, you do the second thing. And after this one, the one after this! Just like me in my skinthight shorts, just like the ultra endurance athlets on mile 128 and 129. Just make it a habit of you to do more things. To do more! Just a little bit more, than you have done yesterday. I personally call this “the endless step”. This is a picture, where you can see a man walking up a step, a steep step.
But on the second glimpse, you realize: “Hey, wait a minute! What is this idiot with the chalk doing here? No! He has not! No way! Why? Why? I was so close! Why is he drawing another step? That is so unfair!” But this is life! Your life! My life! You and I, we are the ones on the step! Day by day, we climb one step. Just one! One single tiny step, one step at a time. But! And this is really important! You need to realise what this means! I say to myself before I go to sleep:
“This is the endless step. Today, I reached another step! Today, I went one step closer to all my goals! Today, I am a little bit better than I was yesterday! And tomorrow, I will be even a little bit better than I am today. Because this is the endless step! Always climb up the steep steps towards all your goals.”
Do you understand this? Read it again! “One step better!” Just one single step. Just one! You can do one step! It is not that hard! So come on! Just do it!
This is the thing with which I want you to end your five minutes session before going to sleep. And I will promise you! You will not even dream about steps! But you will also improve! “Step, by step!” One at a time! Again! Just one step! How hard could it be?
See you next time!