That’s a quote from the book “As a Man Thinketh by James Allen.”
If I want to know about my belief structure, I have to look at my life and my results. And if I want to change them, I need to look at the cause of my behavior from my belief structure.
So, in the past three months, I decided to use a planner, and with specific goals in mind, I journaled my objectives daily and applied what big influencers such as Brendon Burchard or Tony Robins claim you need to do to achieve higher results.
I’ll spare you the details, but my planner had one overarching yearly goal, and I had three quarterly targets split between the three months of June, July, and August, which were then broken into twelve weeks.
On Sunday mornings, I reviewed the previous week and planned the following one. Then every morning, I would lay down the key objectives I’d work on and spread them through the day, including non-working related tasks like exercise, book reading, language lessons, meditation, dinners, and play.
The short of it is that yes, it works. The more extended version is a story of insights and constant efforts to break long-established patterns of behavior.
Here is what I’ve realized.
I suffered withdrawals from distractions. When you plan your day by the hour and tasks, you realize your addiction to time wasters like social media, news, or emails. Those moments were a click away and welcomed at any time. It took efforts to not let them get to me.
I can be lazy. Not having a plan or daily schedule would let me wander around the kitchen, eating snacks, making espresso, and taking breaks in the backyard. I didn’t need the snacks; I just craved the diversions.
I was a demanding boss to myself. When I put something on the list and knew that if I didn’t do it, it would affect the next week or month, I would work extra hours to finish it on time. It made me realize how pushy and bossy I was too myself. I’d quit on that micromanager in a heartbeat.
Our default modes run the show. The saying: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten!” is entirely accurate. After years of building bad habits, they have such a stronghold on your behavior that it’s hard to shake them off.
I got so much stuff done. I finished two paintings. I added twenty-two Spanish lessons to my repertoire. I wrote four blog posts. I got my ICF PCC certification. I researched and finalized a new coaching endeavor. I read one book a month, exercised five days a week, meditated almost every day. I did brain training games three times a week, started a new coaching program, added opportunities to my pipeline, and signed up several new clients. I went on a road trip with my daughter and yeah, I got a new motorcycle.
Focusing on the rewards kept me going. These planners have an end-of-day and an end-of-week section where you write down your successes and accomplishments. I realized only a few weeks into it how important those are. It helped me let go of distractions and focus on the rewards, which is what kept me going.
WHAT I WILL DO DIFFERENTLY
I need to create more space for a flow of opportunities: I’m doing it again, but not as hard. First, because towards the end, I was tired, and I certainly welcomed my vacation. But most importantly, I realized that being too rigid in my schedule didn’t allow for a flow of opportunities. When I relaxed a bit more and eased the parameters around how, when, and what needed to come to me, I started receiving referrals that I didn’t expect.
It was a confirmation of how important it is not to focus only on putting the intention out and acting on it but also to pause and allow opportunities to come in.
Spend time in the creative stance. I realized that during this whole period, I was in a creative attitude rather than a reactive mode. One big problem with the reactive way is that we focus on removing what we do not want (issues, threats, things we dislike) rather than building new positive goals. In short, we “run away from” rather than “run toward something.”
What happens when you "run away from" is that you tend to be in a negative space, blaming, complaining, and resentful about something that doesn’t work for you. This can be damaging for you and the people around you. On the other hand, when you are focusing on creating new goals, you feel more engaged, excited, and grateful for the things to come. That alone alters your attitude to more heightened tones.
Imagine this in a conversation: “I don’t like you, the job, the place and can’t stand being around this anymore.” Vs. “I’m grateful for all my experiences, regardless of how they were, and I am now ready to focus on this new place, new job, new person.” With the former, you hold resentment, could burn bridges and could be limited in moving forward. Instead, the latter brings gratitude, maintains relationships, generates hope and a way forward. The choice is clear.
To build leadership and to create a new future, the problem reactive mode is not the solution. How can we even search for a new purpose if we are stuck in this habit of reacting to stay safe? I know I can’t pursue both safety and purpose. I know I’m not interested in safety. It is stifling, and deep down to my soul, I know that I crave novelty and new heights.
The structure that we hold in our mind over so many years produces results consistent with that structure. Fear, laziness, or feelings of not being good enough will deliver precisely that in our lives and our careers. If, on the other hand, this structure is driven by purpose, desire, or love, with sustainable determination and production, we are more likely to bring that experience to our lives and transform old ingrained habits.
As the authors of the book Mastering Leadership wrote: “Shifting one’s life from the habitual use of problem reacting to the habitual use of outcome creating is the primary developmental challenge of becoming a leader. It means learning how to cultivate creative tension. – How can we ever think we could transform an organization without being transformed.”
And it’s this transformation that is at the center of my focus. Right now, I’m just about to start planning my next quarter. My old default behaviors are still trying to get to me, and I feel like I need to cement new actions for a while longer before they become part of my new default structure.
Here are examples of planners that you can use:
· The Phoenix Journal: https://www.amazon.com/Phoenix-Journal-Gratitude-Happiness-Productivity/dp/B0773G8Y48/