I begin each day of the Summer with a ritual; I wake up at 5:45 AM, slide on my workout clothes, brush my teeth, feed the dogs, and gather my keys and my ear buds. Then, I walk outside of my Park City home, start the car and drive to the bottom of Iron Mountain to begin my trek to the top. The ritual isn’t hiking 1200 feet of rocky trail, the ritual is the 5:45 AM wake up.
The moment I get out of bed and turn off the alarm, I’ve completed the ritual. It’s a simple act, but doing the same thing each day, in the same way, at the same time, makes it easy and repeatable. Rituals make it less likely that I’ll make an excuse. It’s one more item in my arsenal of routines, one less thing to think about, like Steve Jobs’ black T-shirt.
Many people think of habits as patterns that enslave us. They view them as robotic, as though they rob them of their freedom. I disagree. I see habits as liberating. A life in which we have to consider which shoe to tie first, and how to apply the paste to the brush would leave us exhausted. By relying on habits, we free our minds to focus on what matters most.
Here are Five Habits You May Want to Consider:
1. Spend More Time in Nature
Nature offers perspective, solace, and a time for reflection. We spend the majority of our lives doing things, but as my friend Eric Chester reminds us, “We’re human beings, not human doings.”
2. Write Thank You Letters
Think for a moment about the genuine joy you receive when you pause and say, “Thank you.” In 2014—the year of Facebook’s 10th anniversary—CEO and founder, Mark Zuckerberg, revealed that he was challenging himself to write one “well-considered thank-you note every day, via email or handwritten letter.”
Saying “Thank you” forces your brain to focus on what’s right. It elevates your mood and creates the mental mindset you need to tackle your day.
3. Do Your Hardest Work First thing in the Morning
Our brains are configured to make a certain number of decisions per day and once we reach that limit—our “saturation point”—we can’t make anymore, regardless of how important they are. Former President Obama has been quoted as saying that he makes his most important decisions in the morning while he’s still fresh. Prospect, write letters, and make decisions early each day. Something urgent will always replace something important.
4. Practice an Appreciation Audit
Before you get up and before you go to sleep, think of three things for which you are grateful. Mastering happiness is the same as mastering any skill. It’s about doing a lot of little things right.
5. Stick to Your Sales Process
All professionals need some form of structure to do their jobs well. Without processes, planes would collide in the air, basketball players would loft air balls instead of making foul shots, and surgeons would allow their emotions and impulses to derail them in the operating room.
So why should it be any different in sales? Good salespeople know their sales steps; they have structures, systems, and rituals. The best salespeople understand the psychology behind the steps so that if they go off track or fall into a slump, they can pull themselves out of it. Fast.
As Eric Greitans writes in Resilience, “In ancient Greece, repetition was an unexpected and integral part of philosophy. The Greeks understood that shaping human behavior requires repetition.” We lose focus, we take a day off, and then we forget what inspired us in the first place. To prevent the slackening of effort that can come in any practice, we must build structures of repetition, rituals, and habits into our lives. Rituals and habits free your mind so you can open your heart to the person in front of you.
I’d love to hear about the rituals that give you independence.
Happy Independence Day!
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