Focus on Healthy Habits and Projects in Your Daily Routine by Alex Sal

This is a guest post from Alex Sal from New York.  

habitsHealthy habits and projects have life-changing potential. Both help to accelerate the process of achieving virtually all your goals because they require self-discipline, which is a quality that can be applied in all facets of life. In addition to this (as if that were not enough) healthy habits and projects also help reduce stress. And, who does not need to reduce stress?

After all, we all live in a fast-paced, highly demanding, stressful age. It’s an epoch where a multitude of demands are being made on our time, and we have a plethora of choices. Sadly, time is finite. You can’t increase it. But, you can manage yourself better by inserting healthy habits and projects into your daily rituals. The truth is that many people struggle with this – they’re easily distracted.

It’s your lucky day, if you sit a spell with me, we’ll explore how to focus on ritualizing healthy habits and projects?

So, let’s focus on the task at hand. Let’s take a step back and ask ourselves what it means to focus. It’s quite simple, really, to focus on something means “to pay particular attention” to it.

The following are a few proven strategies:

  1. Leverage visualization and planning
  2. Use the power of frequency
  3. Destroy distractions
  4. Track your progress

 

1) Leverage visualization and planning

Visualization and planning are superpowers if you’d like to easily ritualize healthy habits and projects. You’d need to start by consciously creating new patterns. At first blush, visualization feels a tad like daydreaming, and some people may dismiss it. The truth is that there’s scientific evidence to show that it’s effective.

Consider that everything that manifests in our lives starts in our minds as pictures. When we visualize, we’re steering our attention in a particular direction. The images we generate can be so powerful they feel like virtual reality. When this is done regularly, and coupled with planning, inserting healthy rituals become easier because we’re engaging both parts of our brains to harness and direct where our energies flow. Planning makes it easier because we are providing clear instructions to ourselves.

Visualize your path and don’t let the concept of failure get in the way.

2) Use the Power of Frequency

Have you ever wondered how you could easily recall your favorite songs? It’s due to the power of repetition. It’s very easy for what we repeat to stick. The more we try to do those things the more we’re building neural pathways that make it easy to reproduce them with ease in the future. When you repeat your goals, you’re telling your brain your priorities. As you know, prioritization is a fundamental ingredient for being able to focus.

So, consciously block out time on your calendar for healthy habits and projects. Set reminders on your computer, tablet and mobile phone. Create posters with reminders and put them in different parts of your office and home. Create musical triggers – you could select 3 of your favorite classical recordings and mentally associate them with three major habits and projects you’re trying to insert into your life. Ideally, you want music that’d galvanize you. Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” is a great example. So, each time you hear this song, for example, you’d know it’s time to go jogging or time to start writing that manuscript that you’ve been putting off since the 80s.

3) Eliminate Distractions

If we are honest, a lot of people know what to do, to ritualize healthy habits and projects. Distractions are what many struggle with. In fact, most of us struggle with it. Just as we can consciously create new patterns, we must consciously avoid, reduce, or destroy those things that lure us away from a more evolved version of ourselves.

It could be television, it could be social media, it could be binge-watching movies…It’s actually relative. A scriptwriter, for example, may need to be watching a lot of movies. We need to realize how vital the concept of opportunity cost is. The time we spend on X, is the same time that could have been spent on Y. Let’s suppose Mr. M wants to be a software developer or work in organization design consulting but spends most of his time on activities that do not move him towards his goal. What’s likely going to happen to his dream of being a software developer? It’s the same for us. We must consciously and regularly ask ourselves if our activities are fuel for our main goals or if they’re subtly and slowly killing them.

4) Track Your Progress

It’s important to regularly compare our realities to what we visualized. If at the beginning of the year, you envisioned a fitter and healthier you, and every month you use an app to check some of your activities and stats – if you’re on the right track – this will serve as a stimulus for you to continue on the path. It would serve as positive reinforcement for you to accentuate your focus on ritualizing healthy habits and projects. You would find it easier to be fixated on the healthy habits – the record of your progress will be highly motivating – because at the end of the day, leaders take their time but leaders light a fire.

Conclusion

We’ve explored some of the strategies to help you focus on ritualizing healthy habits and projects. Interestingly, it’s not difficult. It all starts with making a firm choice. It starts with envisioning a better you.

What are the main challenges you experience when trying to focus?

Alex Salcioglu

Alex Sal is a business journalist, startup entrepreneur, and frequent contributing writer for Markitors.com. He is also a recent graduate of economics from Queens College.

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Creating Culture Confidence by Jim Johnson

In this final post on Culture Confidence, I want to share some practical things you can do to help build your company’s culture and by merely doing these, you will gain more confidence in becoming a team member who PROMOTES, PRACTICES, and PROTECTS your culture.

Just do it.  Intentionally, sincerely PROMOTE, PRACTICE, and PROTECT your company’s culture.  I know this sounds obvious, but we are all prone to getting in and remaining in a rut at work (and in life).  Watch and listen to your work environment and find ways to positively impact others.  Such as…

spotlight

 

Spotlight coworkers.  If your company periodically recognizes outstanding work coming from the team, do you part by nominating someone for this recognition. Even if the other person never knows you nominated them, do it!

 

High 5.  At my company, we have developed a way to send digital “High 5’s” to coworkers when we “catch them” doing great things.  This High 5 – one of our superstars created this process in Hyland’s OnBase – is a simple form filled out and then sent to the identified team member and sent to their supervisor.  The supervisor can then save this to our company’s performance software for review considerations.

thank you

Thank You Notes.  Yes, actually sit down and in your own hand writing jot down your appreciation of someone and send it to them.  Or walk it to their desk and give it to them.  People LOVE to receive these.  Be thoughtful and specific.

 

“I appreciate you.”  This one may be a little bit harder for some of us, but actually tell someone you appreciate them – out loud.  Or at least write it down and send your thoughts to them in a note, email, instant message (not my favorite because it typically cannot be saved).  These are powerful words that can turn someone’s day around, lift their spirits, and build better relationships.

Assume the Best.  Too often, culture suffers because we assume the worst.  Turn it around.  Assume in best in what you are hearing or seeing.  If an email comes off fuzzy in its meaning, get up and go talk with the sender to get the clear meaning.  Assume the best.  And expect the best – from yourself and your team members.

 

questionsAsk Questions.  Asking great questions will help you get to the heart of an issue.  Asking great questions helps you learn more about a person’s role in a project.  Asking great questions helps you understand the other person’s point of view.  Ask great questions and listen carefully.

 

coffeeLunch/Coffee.  Ask a colleague out to lunch/coffee with no agenda other than to get to know them better.  How do you do that?  Ask great questions about them.  It may shock your colleague, but this earns great relationship dividends.

 

Self-Talk.  Be careful of what you say when you talk to yourself.  We so easily talk ourselves out of becoming more confident.  We talk ourselves down when considering our performance.  Your company hired YOU.  Step up and shine!  Reprogramming your self-talk will surely help you to become more confident in your work, your behaviors, your thinking, and your significance.  You are worth it.

We spend so much of our lives at work.  Let’s make that work meaningful by creating great company cultures.

You will benefit from this.  Your team will benefit.  Your company will grow.  Your community will be positively impacted.  Your customers will notice.

Culture Confidence.  We can do this.

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Protecting Your Company’s Culture – whose job is it? by Jim Johnson

In my last post, I introduced how team members can have confidence in building their company’s culture.  I shared about those critical moments when an employee has to make decisions about how to respond to counter-cultural situations.  The best course of action, in my opinion, is to do these 3 things as a matter of habit:

  • PROMOTE – This is where we actively, intentionally promote the very best of our company.
  • PRACTICE – The best way to promote a company’s culture is to practice it.
  • PROTECT

By protecting the culture I mean intentionally standing up for it.  Let me give an example.

You are in the company’s lunch room.  You hear one employee gossiping (assume negatively) about someone who is not present.  Others are around listening and sometimes joining in. Others are doing and saying nothing.

At that moment, what can you do to PROTECT your company’s culture.  You know what you are observing is NOT going build a healthy culture.  You know what you are hearing is hurtful and not helpful.  So what can YOU do?

protect

In my opinion, you have the right – and responsibility – to approach the gossiper.  Wait…what?!?!  Yes, YOU  have this right.  But take the right approach:

 

  • Approach the gossiper in private.  Don’t create even more negative drama by calling them out in front of a group.  That rarely, if ever, works.  Yes, what that person is doing is wrong, but professionally meet with them in private.  This will truly help “save face” to the one in the wrong.
  • Explain what you heard.  Tell them that the company’s culture is too valuable to make room for hurtful talk about each other.  Tell this person you believe they are better than they portrayed themselves to the group in the lunch room.  Maybe even ask them, “How do you think people perceived you when you talked about that other person in the way you did?  Do you think any of them may believe you’d do the same thing about them?  I want you to be better than this.  I hope you would want the same thing for me and others here.”  Help this person understand you care not only for the person being maligned but that you care for the gossiper, too.  Face it, most of us become blind to certain behaviors and attitudes.  But approach this person with the intent to help them become better.  
  • Tell them that you are not their supervisor, but as an employee of this company, you care about things that move the company forward.  And you care about things that hold the company back.  And you care about the people that work here.

Please note:  this is NOT simple to do.  Too often things get in the way of us making the right choice to protect our culture:

  • Easy. It’s just as easy to not act as it is to act. Just like losing weight or exercising or reading or being intentional in a relationship….easy to do and not easy to do.
  • Fear. We fear taking a stand.  I’ll admit it, it is scary!
  • Deflection. “It’s not my job. I’m not a manager, VP, CEO…”
    • Since when is protecting our culture the sole responsibility of a supervisor?
    • If you saw someone trying to kidnap a child at the mall, you would step in, right? Or would you tell yourself, “hey, it’s not my kid…”?
  • Self-worth. Too many times, we don’t take a stand because of what we say to ourselves.
    • “I’m just a low-level employee.  I have no authority.”
    • “People will make fun or treat me badly.  I don’t want to risk that.”
    • “I’ve only been with the company for 18 months. I don’t know enough to speak up.”
    • Who am I to speak up?  What do I know? I should shut up.”

But your company’s culture is worth protecting and nurturing!  Every time to PROMOTE, PRACTICE,  and PROTECT your culture, you help build momentum.

And when momentum builds, it becomes the norm.

You help raise the standard.

You don’t settle.

You refuse to live to the lowest common denominator.

The culture becomes more alive.

You/We become the culture.

 

Next, I’ll share some practical ways to PROMOTE and PRACTICE the culture.

 

Connecting with Others by Jim Johnson

If you are in business, you want to better connect with your customers and/or potential customers.  When we truly connect with others, we have the door open to more opportunities, deeper relationships, and bottom-line sales.

So, how do we better connect with others?

I have developed and taught the following to my staff as well as to others in people-connecting industries (which is pretty much all of our industries).  My staff calls this the “Laffy-Taffy” approach to connection after a candy’s name.  You’ll see why:

Customer Brings

 

Our customers bring us many things.  Some are evident and we see/hear them.  Other things are “buried” and we have to explore and discover them.

How do get beneath the surface?  The next steps are critical…

 

 

Listen Ask Feel

 

 

We have to actively and intentionally Listen, Ask, and Feel.  Far too often we assume what our customers want.  We push our agenda and don’t listen well.  Our customers will share with us, but we need to truly listen to them, ask more questions, and empathize with them.  Do not skip over this step!  This is where the real connection begins!

 

 

Think Act Follow Up

Once you have spent the appropriate time in Listening, Asking, and Feeling, then (and only then) should you move to these next three steps.  Think – based upon what the customer just shared with you, think through the options.  Act – based on what you’ve just heard, take action.  Don’t push your agenda.  Act on THEIR agenda!  And always Follow-Up/Follow-Through.

 

Does this process take a long time to do?  Perhaps at the beginning, it might.  If you are not comfortable with it, it may take a bit of time.  But after practice, you will become far more confidently competent in your interactions.  Your customers will open up more.  They will share their appreciation of your efforts.  They’ll tell others about you. You’ll get results.

Make great connections with your customers.  Practice LAF TAF every chance you get.  It makes a difference!

The Process

 

LeaderBox – Leadership Resources for YOU

Are you looking for leadership material to read and apply?  I just found a great new resource called LeaderBox.  Each month, LeaderBox will send you books on leadership as well as other resources to help you become better:  a better leader, a better thinker, a better doer.

I am providing a link that you can use to learn more.  Invest in yourself this year.  LeaderBox can help!

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