This post will be one of many inspired by books that I have read over the past few years that have led to practices and habits that I have adapted into my own daily, weekly and monthly routines.
While I still have a lot of work to do in perfecting my habits, when I look at my mental and physical health since implementing these practices, I am able to see a significant improvement, particularly when bundled together with other tools and concepts that have shifted long held perspectives, beliefs and unconscious behaviours.
In many cases I have created my own worksheets or templates to follow, which I will also be sharing in order to assist you in developing your own similar practices and habits.
The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield was suggested by my friend Marlie Jolanda as one of the first reads for the book club we started almost 2 years ago. The book had been gifted to her partner years earlier when he was starting out in business and had been gathering dust on her bookshelf – it looked like an interesting read and a great fit for our book club as it was very easy to break down into small chunks to be read and discussed on a weekly basis.
The book proved to be an absolute treasure trove of useful ideas and activities that the author Jack Canfield, who had experienced much success as a motivational speaker and co-author of the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ book series, has built his life and career on.
There were over 60 principles shared in this book and as with all of the advice I receive – whether it be from a book, a mentor, a friend or a stranger – I always take time to absorb the information and then apply the elements that resonate with me.
In this instance there were 3 specific areas of personal development that really resonated with me as I was either not currently doing them, or not doing them with any real methodology or focus:
1. Acknowledging Previous Successes
Do you take the time to pause every now and then to see how far you have come? Or are you more like me with your eyes always on the next big item that you need to check off your to-do list?
It can almost feel counter productive to stop what you are doing to look back on what you have already done, but this activity can provide a great energy boost and increased confidence to continue when you are starting to feel your motivation and focus dwindling.
The book recommends listing 100 successes that you have already achieved in life for this exercise. 100 sounds like a lot but you will be surprised how they begin to flow once you start – from learning to play an instrument, to saving for a dream holiday, to landing that perfect job or first customer – these are all things that you applied commitment and focus to achieve.
I created a template for this exercise, which you can download here. I keep my list on the wall beside my desk, so that I can look back and reflect when I need a reminder that ‘I can do this’!
2. Celebrating Small Wins
I write a to-do list every evening before I go to bed with everything that I would like to get done the next day.
I try to be realistic, but somehow I always underestimate how long ‘simple’ tasks might take – calling the bank, for example, should take 5-10 minutes, but with wait times and being passed from department to department, this can often take an hour or more. I also fail to take into consideration the everyday interruptions like phone calls, emails and impromptu meetings at the office that take up big chunks of time. Sometimes I get to the end of the day with only half a dozen items out of a 20 item list checked off and feeling like the whole day was a write off – but was it?
The book shares various ways of recognising small wins and building on them to create bigger wins, it recommends keeping a daily success journal to take note of what you have achieved, why it was a success, what is needed to progress and what the next step in that progression looks like. My small successes can be those to-do list items, but they can also stem from those impromptu events like a new enquiry on my website, a phone call that I made or received or a document I created that day. Listing them out out in journal form helps to reframe the day to focus on the positive actions that occurred and by taking note of the next step, I have small chunks of work to add to my next to-do list.
3. Goal Setting
There are a number of exercises in the book that relate to goal setting and creating a vision for your life.
I’ve created vision boards before, but the book provides some more structured activities that really helped me to get clear on some big and small goals that I would like to achieve in the following areas of my life: Finance, Career, Fun, Body, Soul, Family and Community.
I started by brain dumping 100 life goals that I would like to achieve. From there I looked for key themes around these goals and the tools and resources that I would need to make them a reality – these formed my life vision.
Finally, I created the weekly success scorecard so that I could keep track of when I had completed activities that bring me closer to each of the goals in my life vision.
The templates that I created to facilitate this goal setting process are:
I loved reading this book and would highly recommend it’s practical, hands on activities to anyone looking to improve their time management, productivity and interpersonal relationships.