The one habit to rule them all – how to become healthier, happier and more productive
Can you imagine a professional runner starting their race without warming up first?
If for some unfathomable reason they started to sprint without warming up first, what do you think would happen?
1. They don't perform very well
2. They get injured
If you’re an entrepreneur, a business owner or a working in a challenging profession, you are a mental athlete. The brain is the greediest organ in the human body. It weighs about three pounds, which is about 2% of your body weight. Yet it uses up to 20% of your body's energy.
So what happens to mental athletes when they don't prepare, when they don't warm up?
1. They don't perform very well - certainly not at the peak levels of productivity and high levels of performance they are capable of
2. They get injured - the injury may not be purely physical at first. But it could manifest as higher levels of stress, anxiety, irritability, low moods, depression - the list goes on
I've been there. I've played badminton for 3 hours without warming up properly - bam - Achilles injury and slower reaction times.
As a mental athlete, I used to work 16, 18, 24 hour days at a City law firm without looking after my mental, physically and emotional well-being. Bam - inevitably work quality went down and stress and anxiety levels shot up.
Having established that you are a mental athlete and you need to warm up, what does this mean practically?
You need to develop a good morning routine (the one habit to rule them all!) which ticks the following boxes:
1. Warm up emotionally
The easiest and most effective way to start is to practise gratitude. Keep this simple, list at least 3 things you're grateful for in your life.
I'm grateful to be alive. I'm grateful to be healthy. I'm grateful to have enough food. I'm grateful to have clean drinking water.
Today, 1 in 9 people lack access to safe water. Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. Are we not already breathing rarefied air? We don't even need to think about clean drinking water or where our next meal will come from.
I know I'm doing this gratitude thing right when I feel the emotion of gratitude. Not as a mental concept, but when the emotion of gratitude swells up inside me.
"Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough."
- Oprah Winfrey
2. Warm up mentally
Plan your day. If you don't plan your day taking into account your top 3 goals for the next 3 months, you will be moving someone else's goals forward.
You will open your emails and the Pandora's box of other people's brain farts will suck you in. You will be fire-fighting and reacting to other people's demands.
And your goals - what's most important to you - will simply gather dust on a lonely abandoned piece of paper somewhere.
3. Warm up physically
I made the mistake for so many years of just identifying with my mind. My body was an inconvenience. Damn, I have to feed it. It needs to sleep. What an utter waste of time. That mind body disconnect resulted in about a decade of chronic fatigue or its close cousin.
You might not be as extreme as I was, but is your body healthy and full of vitality? Are you proud of your body? Do you enjoy using your body?
Why is this important? Well, let's see without good health and vitality, you will always perform sub-optimally.
You are not just your mind. You are your body, your mind and your spirit. Not looking after one of these aspects, in this case your body, is like running a race with one leg against two-legged people.
Your body is so intelligent. You cannot expect to access your full mental powers without accessing the intelligence of your body.
So, move your body every single day. Stretch it, dance, shake your butt, do some star jumps. I don't care. Just do something that gets your body moving.
Start small. Start today
If you don't have a morning routine, you need to start developing one today.
Start so small that you can't fail - just start by doing 5 minutes of stretching every morning. Once you've got that down pat, add 2 minutes of practising gratitude.
This is the master habit - the one to rule them all. Do a full morning routine for 30 days and I guarantee you will be healthier, happier and more productive.