Gain control over your life and realise your goals with the power of daily practice
Robert M. Bennin, Chief Learning Strategist at TEMPLE Advisory Business News
Being told the world is VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) or whatever does not make one feel better, no matter how sweet-sounding these abbreviations are to the ear.
We are pulled on every side, making it difficult to follow through on our most important or strategic goals.
Each day passes, and so much has happened, but we are still determining whether we made progress on the tasks that matter to our future professional growth and well-being.
There is a simmering frustration, and it seems there is no way out. Well, the answer lies in a practice that may seem impossible at first, given the already chaotic nature of our very lives.
However, after careful examination, this looks practical, feasible and effective.
And with almost an insignificant shift to your schedule, you can still make much progress on your goals despite the busyness. Every successful professional and elite athlete who competes at the highest level uses this approach.
Starting this practice will not add to the chaos in your life; instead, it will enable you to progress and achieve your most important goals despite the chaos.
How does daily practice work?
Consider the example of James Patterson, former CEO of JWT advertising business in the US, which was 60 per cent of the global company. He resigned and followed the passion and career of his dreams.
How did he do it? He will always go to the office early, shut the door and write until work starts. It was a short time, but he did this almost daily.
This slight shift enabled him to write and improve his writing. Eventually he became a best-selling author living the life he wanted to live and pursuing his dreams. Patterson told CNBC Make It: “I do not work for a living, I play for a living. I love doing it.”
That’s the power of the daily practice. Whether it’s about improving your abilities, starting a new passion, or learning a new trade, what’s required is a commitment to devote a couple of minutes a day to this effort.
What makes a daily practice a feasible and valuable alternative?
When you dedicate yourself to a specific practice, for example, reading 15 minutes a day, you have absolute control over your method and are a master of your fate.
For instance, you must have always nurtured a passion for studying a particular subject within an institution.
Unfortunately, universities may fix lecture hours at inconvenient times. It may take a long drive to the location if virtual sessions do not exist.
Given the plethora of resources available today, you can choose how to approach this capacity-building activity and determine your practice time, place and duration.
With daily practice, what is required is as little as 15 minutes of focused practice each day. The value of daily routine also compounds over time. The benefit and discipline flow into other areas of your life. Above all, it does not take a lot to get started.
Three areas of your life that can benefit from daily practice:
Health and well-being
One area everyone can achieve significant benefits using the power of daily practice is our health and overall well-being. Research has proven that running, walking or jogging for a few minutes daily can improve mental alertness, creativity and reduce stress levels.
The science is precise; every little activity done regularly helps. We are left with no excuse. You might be busy, but you can find 5 minutes to walk up the stairs rather than take the lift.
These practices help every person to manage chaotic situations better. You can also secure your health and well-being with an effective daily practice of meditation, gratitude journalling, etc.
Professional skills development
Practising a skill related to your profession for 15 minutes regularly can yield magnificent benefits for your career.
For example, practising a skill like public speaking for 15 minutes a day can lead to improved confidence and better presentations in the workplace.
For a salesperson, this will lead to a remarkable increase in performance.
Most influential leaders spend about 15 minutes daily reflecting and journalling important key observations and decisions.
Every leader must make the time to read for at least 30 minutes a day.
This focused reading time adds up to 15 hours a month, 180 hours a year.
Consistently investing this amount of time on any subject over ten years is equivalent to studying for a PhD in that subject area.
Pursuing your dreams/ambitions
You can start your dream projects by devoting a small amount of time to focus on a subject daily, even when you have a busy professional life.
Doing it this way may take some years to realise your dream, but it’s better than chasing the busyness of life and coming to the end of the road empty-handed, filled with regret, not having pursued your goals or passion projects.
James Patterson has sold over 400 million books and co-authored with Bill Clinton and Dolly Patton since he became a best-selling author.
He used the idea of daily practice to his advantage. You can start working on those passion projects by devoting 30 minutes daily to get you going.
Patterson honed his writing skills when his life did not depend on it. He paid the bills with his job as a CEO while working on his pet project. Now, he is one of the world’s highest-paid authors. Indeed, little drops of water daily make a mighty stream.
How can I start and sustain my daily practice?
For example, you can start improving your fitness with a little commitment other than gym registration.
You can start small with 5 minutes of brisk walking around your neighbourhood, doing push-ups at home and using an app on your phone to begin your practice.
All these can fit into your existing busy schedule. The saying “little drops of water make a mighty ocean” is not a myth.
What matters is not the amount of time and effort spent on the activity at a time but the consistency of the practice.
Given that you are only committing a small fraction of time to whatever activity or practice you choose, it’s essential to remain focused throughout the practice to benefit and make any meaningful progress.
Putting away any item such as a phone that can distract from the routine allows you to focus your attention.