Friday, April 13, 2012

We Are What we Repeatedly Do

You’ve heard the axiom before, I’m sure:

“You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act but a habit.”

Another one I really like says:

“Sow a thought, reap an action; sow an action; reap a habit; sow a habit, reap a character; sow a character reap a destiny.”

If these two quotes tell us that we are the sum of our daily habits, then surely our habits are important. Everything from brushing our teeth and a morning cup of java, to internal criticism of a colleague or watching TV every night after work, surely must matter.

Thanks to inspiration from a friend, my wife and I have undertaken a 100 Day Burpee Challenge. First, for those of you who don’t know, a burpee is a physical exercise where you start in a standing position, squat down and thrust your legs back and do a push-up, pull your legs back into a squat and then jump into the air. That’s one. The 100 Day Burpee Challenge inspires participants to do one burpee on day one, two burpees on day two, three burpees on day three, and so on, until you reach 100. And of course, there’s a catch; if on say day 75 you neglect to do your burpees, on day 76 you are expected to do 75 burpees from the day before and 76 for your current day.

Our Burpee Challenge systematizes a daily exercise habit. For 100 days, we are accountable to perform this exercise on a regular basis. And frankly, the benefits trickle down. I’ve noticed a difference in how I feel, and the level of energy I have. On nights when I go out with friends for a drink, I moderate my consumption actively, because I know that once I get home I’ll have some burpees to do.

Successful people will tell you that one of the things that contributes to their success, is the sum of the daily habits they have created for themselves. The legal thriller author, John Grisham, began his career as a writer by committing to write one page a day, before getting started on his legal work for the day. Eventually he produced a book and sell millions of novels around the world.

John Grisham is not the only one who purposefully bakes a habit into his daily routine. A recent study of CEOs revealed the following:

• Almost 80% wake up at 5:30 or earlier
• More than 70% exercise in the morning and only12% admitted to not exercising, regularly

Coincidence that the similarities are so high? Likely not.

So if we should develop habits to improve our lives, what areas should we focus on? I’ve come up with a few:

1. Exercise – Our bodies are the temples for our spirit. When it feels good, so do we. Develop a HABIT of taking care of it.
2. Mentally – In today’s fast moving world, if you’re not moving forward you’re falling behind. Learn something new everyday.
3. Spiritually – At least once a day find something in your life that your thankful for and genuinely give appreciation for it as though you will lose it tomorrow.

Our daily habits define us and our lives and affect those around us. If we don’t actively and mindfully manage them we risk falling short of our potential and achieving our goals in life.

What are some the regular habits in your life that improve the quality of life? What are some of the ones that might inhibit a better life?

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