Last week, I read an article that rocked my day-to-day world, a piece about the formula for failure and success by the late business philosopher Jim Rohn. Jim rarely tells you something you don't already know, deep inside, but the way he points it out makes it stick and even change your behaviour - sometimes for a lifetime.
This article reminded me of how subtly and sneakily failure or success follow us through our day-to-day lives. We might set big goals, mark milestones and say tons of positive affirmations, but it's the smallest daily decisions that will ultimately make or break us.
I struggle a lot with my finances. I work hard and have set up my life to have multiple streams of income from the different things that I do and love. I don't need to own many things and usually have enough to be content. But, as so many people do, I adjust my spending up and down based on what's coming in. I live comfortably and enjoy my life, but not as much as I could if I could just get better control of my daily, tiny, moment-by-moment decisions about money.
When it comes to spending, I'm much more about today than tomorrow, too much so. The result: not nearly enough savings and not nearly as much financial freedom as I'd like to have, to create the next level of my dream life I'd like to live.
As an example, today I could easily afford renting a little casita on the beach in the tropics (as I have in the past) to hide out, write, dream and relax - not too shabby and a dream for many people, but truly very annoying when forced to live in close quarters with neighbours who think everyone wants to be up at the crack of dawn (that's my past experience).
My dream is to live in an environment that's all mine, that I can control to a much greater degree, but the daily decisions I typically make about money today (example: let's go out to dinner AGAIN! My treat, AGAIN!) continue to prevent me from saving enough to live my big dream: owning my own tropical home on the ocean in a peaceful area, and creating a wellness retreat centre there.
Some examples of "minor" habits that make or break your life over the longterm, according to Rohn:
- Eating the wrong foods for the joy of the moment
- Smoking too much
- Drinking too much
- Not reading a single book over a 3 month period
- Making yet another (seemingly minor) poor decision
- Wasting yet another hour
As Rohn points out, with each of these nothing drastic usually happens after a few weeks, or even a few months or years. They feel good in the moment, and don't have immediate consequences. The rest of your life might seem to be going great, yet your daily habits (what you do, and what you don't do) steadily plant the seeds for future failure or success - financial, physical, professional, and/or personal.
I love the way that Rohn describes the formula for success: "A few simple disciplines, practiced every day."
Here are some simple disciplines I'd like to do every weekday (some I already do, some I'd like to do):
- Get 8-9 hours sleep a night, up by 8 am
- Pray and meditate every morning
- Blog or do some kind of original writing
- Dance - rehearse my flamenco, do the New York City ballet workout DVD or take a class
- Work with/interact with media ( I love it and it's essential to my success as an expert)
- Do something that moves me forward financially
- Read something that increases my knowledge or inspires me
Some things I'd like to stop doing:
- Staying up too late
- Wasting time online
- Impulsive spending rationalized by "I deserve it because..."
- Goofing off while "working" that significantly decreases productivity
- Checking email instead of focusing on critical major life-changing tasks
What would you like to turn into a daily habit? What daily habits would you like to get rid of?
In my book, Life a Life You Love: 7 Steps to a Healthier, Happier, More Passionate You, which comes with a free downloadable life workbook, I describe the habits I created and choices I made (and that you can make and create) that turned my life around, helped me fulfill my earlier dreams and brought me farther than I would ever have believed.
Jim Rohn's Essay: The Formula for Failure and Success
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