Habits, rituals, scheduled and planned behaviors, all successful business leaders have them. These are intentional actions. They bring stability. They bring predictability. They establish a solid foundation for future decision making. Plus, intentional actions are done on purpose (redundant but true).
Intentional Actions – Create Rhythm To Life
Do you remember putting on your seat belt this morning? How about the drive to work? It is amazing how our mind and body go into autopilot. We get so accustomed to doing something that after a while we do not even think about what we are doing. We just do it. This is good when you are doing a positive behavior, like wearing your seat belt. It is disastrous if your habits are negative, like viewing pornography.
The good news is you can change your behavior. Therefore, you can change your habits and improve your moral character.
Things do not magically get better. It takes focus. If you want to see and track tangible improvement with your personal character, then you have to keep a journal. This is one of the fastest ways to improve your personal character. It holds you accountable to yourself.
The key to keeping a journal is to make the process sustainable. Sustainability can not be overstated. I must of started 5 separate journals, before I finally settled on something that I could, well… keep doing.
It has to be simple. This is not a diary. It is a journal. There are a lot of different methods for getting the most out of a journal. At first, I tried to follow an outline that was too demanding. It was a good format for tracking my actions and behavior, but at the end of the day I dreaded doing it. If you do not like doing it then you won’t do it.
Here is what I suggest:
- Get a small spiral notebook
- Write in it each day
- Use one page per day (don’t worry about filling it up all the way)
- Write what you are grateful for in your life
- Write one thing you must do today
- Write something that happened yesterday (good or bad)
That’s it. That’s all I do, and I have found it to be great. It keeps me focused on what matters. Here’s a quick breakdown of how it works for me.
1) The grateful part reminds me of how I am truly blessed. No matter how bad things are in the moment there is always a reason to be grateful. Usually, this reminds me of my wife, kids, job, health, etc. It makes me thankful, and I want to be a thankful person. I do not know any thankful people who are miserable.
2) The consistency of writing daily keeps me on track. If I miss a day, then I never go back and try to make up for lost time. It’s lost. I simply move on and if something crucial happened it will get its due in the reflection part of the journal entry.
3) The one thing keeps me focused on what is really important. It is the narrow to-do list. This cuts out the clutter and the busy work. The one thing will get me one step closer to a goal I’m working towards.
4) Finally, the reflection portion keeps me focused on improvement. If something went “bad” then I can assess the situation without simply blowing it off. If something went “good” then it is added to my grateful list.
A journal is a great way to track your progress and improve your actions. You may not be able to predict your future circumstances, but like Zig Ziglar says, “When you are tough on yourself, life is going to be infinitely easier on you.”
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/36613169@N00/128195084″>the rhythm of my heart</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>