First of all, a big THANK YOU to Victor Truică, my good friend who told me about this principle way back when I was “too busy”, so “busy” that it took me years to remember it and end up implementing it.
This post is about an ingredient that sometimes is not mentioned or underestimated in the recipe for self-improvement.
I’ll give you some context in between, so that you might also share this with friends that are at the same step in the process of re-inventing themselves.
A lot of times people want to change their way of being, to improve on certain area of their life, or to simply get out of the routines in which they find themselves everyday, sometimes without realizing they are in a routine, or not knowing what kind of activities make them stay the same.
But in this day and age, a lot of things might seem cool or good to have as part of your life. There are so many sources of inspiration that advertise certain ways of living, things, skills, ways of being that align with what you want and they are too many for the time at hand.
“Too little time.”. “I don’t have the time”. “I’m too busy”. “I wish I had the time”.
Well people who accomplish a lot in their life, have the same 24-hour day like you and me. And they make it happen. They have a routine, just like you and me, and they use the compound effect which by they way is a concept explained in an outstanding book – Slight Edge by Jeff Olson.
So what more? What is the secret?
- A vision of themselves in the future
- Measurable and time-bound goals to reach and become who they envision, and
- Actions to take, to reach their goals and become the best version of themselves. Or like Elliot Hulse is putting it, “The Stronger Version of Yourself”
And this is not new stuff, so how do they do it? How do they make the best out of their time?
First of all, before I can tell you what the missing ingredient, is I have to emphasize – You must be honest with yourself.
You must be real, transparent and fully sincere with yourself so that you can really improve the real version of yourself.
Remember, the idea is not to fake it and hope to make it, but rather work through it and make it.
The idea is for you to be the person, not act the person.
You want to be yourself 24/7, 365 and not have to worry about putting up an image of someone that you are not, because you can just be the person that you want to be.
So how do you do that?
Here is what works for me:
First, just observe yourself. Monitor yourself.
Follow yourself consciously every step of the day for at least 14 days, but I would recommend even 30 days, and write down every action, thing or event you did every day. At the end of the day, or after you do it.
Moreover, every week, make a plan of the main things that you want to accomplish.
Then spread that plan and the things you want to accomplish on days. Every evening, write down your daily agenda / tasks you want to accomplish.
Then, after the first day, every evening, before making the plan for the next day, write down what you managed to do out of your list, what you did not, and VERY important, what you did that was not on the list. And write everything. Write all the planned and unplanned things that filled your day.
Unplanned naps, binging on Netflix, a too long conversation with a friend, scrolling on Instagram, watching Youtube videos, whatever.
Don’t assess it just yet. Just write it down, with the intention of analyzing it at the end of the 14 / 30 days.
Do this every day and then come back to it and observe:
- How much time did you spend on your phone on consuming content or putting out content that is not valuable to you?
a. What are the apps that you spend the most time on?
b. When are you using these apps?
c. How much time / day do you spend?
d. How much time / week do you spend?
e. How much time do you end up using in a month for something that you don’t prioritize high enough to be spending so much time on?
- What worked, what did you accomplish in this 2 weeks / month?
- What did you not manage to accomplish in this period?
- Which of the tasks that you did or did not do, are annoying, or you really do them without joy?
- Why is it causing you discomfort? Can it be made in a way that brings more happiness to you? Can it be substituted with a different action with the same effect that is easier / more enjoyable?
- What did you spend your time on, why did you spend time on it, and why?
- Which of your goals did you work most for?
- Which of your goals did you neglect?
- Try to understand – why? What are the patterns?
I truly believe that in 30 days of self-observation which you reflect upon, after this period, you will see patterns in what is pushing you further or pulling you back from or to your goals.
And if you’re like me, you’ll identify time-killers, or actions that you do every day, thinking they take only a few minutes or an hour of your time and it turns out to be way more than that.
Maybe you’ll identify things that you do compulsively, because you “have to” instead of wanting to. And you might have been thinking that it’s not that big of a deal, but when the days add up, you realize that you actually spend a lot of time on a thing that you do not like or want to do before doing something more important.
Maybe you’ll identify “distractions”, that not only take your attention away from what you really wanted to do, but also put you in a loop of mental attitude that slows you down on the road of success.
When you realize how much time you actually use on certain activities that you might not want to spend, and you already have goals that you want to reach and think you don’t have time for – BINGO – you have a match.
You now can clearly swap the time-killers or attention-killers with activities that at the end of the day and at the end of each observing period will bring you closer to your goals and therefore, bring you happiness.
Because the feeling that you get from following your own clearly defined plan is much more intense and longer lasting than the external praising or external appreciation once you’re honest with yourself.
So that’s it. The key ingredient to the development recipe, is observation. Missing any ingredient will of course stop you, but I think that self-observation and reflection is not as much talked about as goal-setting and routine development as it should.
Remember, what you can’t measure, you can’t improve. So let’s move ahead and measure our current time-efficiency, identify the patterns that are holding us back and change them with what we really, truly desire.
Let there be prosperity!