It has been said by about a billion different writers in about a thousand different ways something to this effect:
A life is built, over time, on small actions (or daily decision or our habits).
Our life’s trajectory is the cumulative effect of the things that we do on a daily, regular basis.
That thought isn’t entirely encouraging to me when I like back on things. At the same time, it is supremely encouraging because it simply means that by changing the things I do daily, I can directly affect my results over time.
There are always uncontrollable circumstances, but all things being equal, installing daily disciplines that are in line with ultimate objectives will move us toward those objectives. It’s hard to imagine how doing the right things over and over again will not eventually produce positive results (again, barring any strange crazy uncontrollable events).
Wherever we currently find ourselves financially, physically, relationally, we can decide that today is the day that things start to change.
7 Daily Disciplines That Can Supercharge the Change
It would be supremely arrogant of me to tell you what those 7 daily disciplines should be. But I do believe strongly that there are 7 areas that would benefit from daily small action that will reap rewards. I’ve believed this for quite some time, but check out Todd Henry’s short podcast on The Dailies. Henry discusses with great clarity the importance of having a set of daily disciplines.
Here’s my preferred approach. I hope it will be helpful to you. In each one of these areas, try to think of a habit that could be a Keystone Habit – a habit that would set off a chain reaction into other ares of your life. These habits have compound effects that go beyond the single discipline. These 7 areas come from Zig Ziglar’s “Wheel of Life”:
1. Choose a Spiritual Discipline: A.W. Tozer said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” I’d take it a step further and say that it’s awfully important to engage God on a regular basis. Even if you aren’t clear on what you believe about God, meditate, pray, read a devotional book, journal. Select a small, 15-20 minute discipline. (Mine: Read/Pray/Journal – the traditional North American quiet time, right?)
2. Choose a Discipline for your Physical Health: Walk 20 minutes. Count calories. Keep a food journal. Weigh yourself. Floss your teeth. Select a habit that will cause you to consider the way you take care of your health. (Mine: Walk for 20-30 minutes – which begets better eating and sleeping habits)
3. Choose a Mental Discipline – something that would get your noggin going: Read for 30 minutes. Write down 10 ideas per day. Write 500 words. (Mine: read for 30 and write 500 daily)
4. Choose a Family Discipline: Every area of our lives require intentionality. Select a discipline that will push you and your spouse past logistics into real conversation. Have face time with each child. Connect with a sibling or parent. (Mine: 5 within 5 with my spouse and kids – five minutes within five feet of each person for some dedicated conversation).
5. Choose a Social Discipline: Send a friend an email or make a phone call. It’s important, especially for guys, to stay connected to friends (of their own gender). Cultivate friendships with those who help you raise your game. (Mine: Email or call a friend, any friend, or a family member)
6. Choose a Career or Work Discipline: What is one thing you can do to move your career forward or to be extremely effective each day? Most jobs have that one little discipline we avoid. If we’re in sales, it might to make that one extra call or stay in touch with that key client. (Mine: 5 cold calls or emails a day – doing so keeps me focused on creating value, even when I’m super busy with other responsibilities)
7. Choose a Financial Discipline: It’s easy to include this discipline as part of the career discipline. That makes sense, especially if you have no debt or general money management issues. An example might be to update your budget or log spending. (Mine: Update budget/log expenses)
A Couple Things to Keep in Mind When Trying to Keep Daily Disciplines
The first thing to remember is to be flexible regarding the number and nature of your disciplines. While it’s a good idea to pour into the different areas of your life, it can be overwhelming to keep 7 disciplines. Plus, you might feel that you have other disciplines that might be more appropriate for you and where you are.
If you err on one side or the other, start small and build. Don’t take on too much. Pick 2 or 3 even and really get those habits into your schedule before moving on.
The second thing to remember is to be gracious to yourself. Don’t stress if you miss a day or three. The important thing is to start shifting from a life that just sort of happens to becoming more intentional. As a matter of fact, if you consistently hit half or at least 2 0r 3 a day, then you’ll be doing a lot better than you were before you started the practice. Take heart. It’s a journey.
Over time, as the daily habits build on each other, things should really start changing.
What about you? Do you have daily habits you try to check off each day?
What are one or two disciplines that you’ve instilled into your daily rhythms?
(Leave your answers in the comments)
This post is from Day 6 exercise of Jeff Goins’ 15 Day Intentional Blogging program. The challenge was to write a list post. I based it on my listening of today – where I caught up on Todd Henry’s Accidental Creative Podcast (highly, highly recommended – he packs more into 12-18 minutes than most podcasts shove into 40 minutes) and the EntreLeadership Podcast where I listened to the interview with Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit.