“If it’s important, do it every day. If it’s not, don’t do it at all.” – Dan Gable
I hated my job. I hated my commute. I hated my boss. I hated my life. My recycle bin at work was filled with empty energy drink cans. People would tell me that I looked tired. I would literally drag myself out of bed, go to work, come home, eat dinner, and go back to bed. I was putting weight back on.
Not that I think my life is all that unique. I bet you’ve gone through something similar. Maybe it’s happening right now?
When all of this was coming to a head over the last three months, I started doing something called the “Miracle Morning”. Hal Elrod has written something that I think is of tremendous value: this is a series of six daily habits to do immediately upon awakening. At the same time, I kept reading about a technique called “Morning Pages” from Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way series. People in different fields–people whom I admire–were doing these morning pages. So I started doing them, too. Then I ran into James Altucher’s concepts of “Choosing Yourself” and what he calls the “daily practice” – taking the PIES (Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Spiritual) and making sure you are working on them, improving them by a tiny amount each day (1%).
I haven’t pulled myself all the way out yet. My life is in transition. But it is working and I want to share what I have learned so far.
I took what was working from the PIES. I also believe you have to invest in your resources and relationships, so I’ve renamed the acronym ‘SPIRE’:
- S – Spiritual
- P – Physical
- I – Intellectual
- R – Relationships and Resources
- E – Emotional
Spiritually, I found a deep re-connection with my intuition. It’s hard to spontaneously write in your daily pages that you need to quit your job over and over again and not believe it. I started listening to my intuition and I quit my job.
On the physical front, I found myself getting into better and better shape. I started having more energy. When I tried to shift gears to a more infrequent style of training I found that I started missing workouts and motivation. With a daily physical practice, there is nowhere to hide. You can’t move your workouts back without having to reschedule your day.
Intellectually, I found myself learning French and computer programming much faster when they became a daily practice, keeping me both fresh and in the groove. Because you are only doing a little bit a day, your mind really has the chance to integrate what you are doing. Knowledge compounds daily. Instead of cramming for a test and only getting a surface-level understanding, it becomes deeply embedded into your long term memory, like drops of water etching a pattern into rock over time.
From a resources standpoint, I find myself with a deeper relationship with my significant other because I practice appreciation and gratitude every day. She says I have more energy and I look much less tired. At the same time, I’ve reinforced many positive things about my personality by reinvesting in my internal resources.
Finally, emotionally, I find myself being happier on a daily basis–instead of feeling life is an unbearable grind. I find it easier to see what I can learn from things I used to complain about. I wake up excited to get out of bed.
Ultimately, it took several hours a day to complete my practice: way too long. This was supposed to be a supplement to the rest of my life, not the core of what I was doing everyday. It started to unbalance me. Instead of strengthening myself to better live my life, I was strengthening myself at the expense of my life.
Some other practices seemed misguided and not backed by science: Affirmations can make you feel worse, and Visualizing having achieved your final goal is actually demotivating. I had to change some things.
I knew that a minority of the effort typically resulted in a majority of the results, so I started going through each part of my morning routine to try to discover what was working for me and what needed to change. I’ll share my results tomorrow. (Update – here’s part 2)