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5 Small Ideas to Make a Big Difference Every Day
Try adding micro-habits to your routine. 2/26/2021 | Steve Woodburn, The Only Constant is Change
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Did you create BHAG’s (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) at the beginning of this year? As I’ve written in earlier posts, without goals to guide us, we’re like corks floating on the ocean. I write my goals as though they’ve already happened, as though it’s December 31 and I’m looking back on what a fantastic year it’s been. Will we attain every goal we set? No, but having written goals sets you apart from the majority of people who live life on a wing and a prayer. 

It’s great to dream big by creating goals, and writing them down is smart to remind yourself of where you’re headed. But having small daily habits that back up those goals makes it even more likely you’ll realize them. 

These small habits have many names, among them micro-habits or daily success habits. They’re small things, done consistently over time that keep our lives moving in the right direction. To some, this may seem silly and a distraction from what we’re hoping to achieve. But habits form the basis of our lives and either help us or hurt us. Will Durant, an American writer and historian said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” 

When starting new habits, it’s tempting to get distracted, make excuses, or simply forget. So make these micro-habits small enough that they become part of your daily ritual, second nature if you will. 

The five ideas below are simply a starting point, and it’s likely you’ll think of your own, too. The important thing is to be consistent because consistency creates a mindset of success, which will help your mind create the success you seek. 

  • Gratefulness: At the start of each day, write down three things you’re grateful for and don’t take the easy way out by writing the same ones every day. We all have so many blessings in our lives and choosing different ones will help you look beyond the obvious. Jot them down in a journal or keep them on your smartphone or iPad so you can review them once a week. You’ll be surprised by how much there is to be thankful and grateful for in your life, and it will start each day on a positive note.
  • Just Say No: For most of us, it’s hard to say no, but it’s something we all must do more often. There are 24 hours each day to do the things that move us towards our goals.  Letting others distract us with requests, be they business or personal, subtracts from that time. We’ll never please everyone and your true friends, family members, and colleagues will understand your need to say “no” sometimes. When someone makes an unanticipated request, ask yourself:  “Is this taking me towards my goals or in the opposite direction?”  There will always be times we must say “yes” even though it’s not in our best interest. Will you let people down at times? Of course, but letting yourself down less often is the best reason to say “no”.
  • Discover Something New Each Day: I’ve written often about lifelong learning and the importance of staying up-to-date on changes that may affect our work and personal life. It’s also important and joyful to seek out random knowledge to keep your mind active and alert. These tidbits of newfound knowledge don’t have to be big. Think of something you’ve always wanted to know and put it in the search bar of your browser. Call a friend and ask a question about something that interests them, read a daily quote from someone you respect, learn a new word, listen to a podcast on a topic you’re not familiar with yet.  Or visit a site like HowStuffWorks or UselessFacts; pick any of their myriad of topics and learn something new. As one of the greatest artists and inventors (among other things) Leonardo da Vinci said, “Learning never exhausts the mind.”
  • Read Every Day: There are multiple reasons to read something each and every day, including improving your concentration and memory. According to the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, reading books and magazines can help keep memory and thinking skills intact. I’ve always loved to read, but many people don’t, and I get it. If that’s the case, start with five minutes. It can be about your career, motivational material, fiction or non-fiction, or a magazine about a subject you relish. You may find you enjoy reading and decide to increase the amount of time you read each day and believe me, that won’t be a bad thing.
  • Get Out of Bed Five Minutes Earlier: No cheating by hitting the snooze alarm. Get up just five minutes earlier than you normally would and spend that extra time stretching, writing down what you’re thankful for, meditating, making a to do list for the day or anything else that will help in meeting your goals. And now that you know you can do it, start waking up 10 or 15 minutes earlier and continue to do things immediately after arising that are positive and uplifting for your mind and spirit.

Adding micro-habits to your routine, if you keep at them, has the potential to change your life and put your goals within reach, no matter how lofty or audacious they might be. F.M. Alexander, an Australian actor and author wrote, “People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” 

Your habits, be they good or bad, will be a major factor in determining your future. Reach for the stars in all aspects of your life, surround yourself with other positive people, and be mindful in all you say and do. The humorist and Oklahoma’s “Favorite Son”, Will Rogers, sums up my take on the subject:   “A man only learns in two ways, one by reading, and the other by association with smarter people.” My advice to you: Do both!

After several decades on-the-radio as a DJ and traffic reporter, Steve Woodburn MAS, stumbled, as most do, into the world of promotional products. He spent 27 years on the distributor side and the last three as a supplier, which gives him a unique perspective on this crazy business and life in general.
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