Over the last 2 years, we interviewed hundreds of powerful professionals [CEO, CFOs, CMO, COO, Head of Sales, VP of Marketing etc.] to gather key insights on how daily habits can shape careers:
The astounding growth in these leaders’ productivity and mindfulness seemed to be compounded over decades of their personal investment in habit building. Many shared experiences of adding simple, healthy habits into their daily routines. A few talk specifically about setting stretch goals, many swear by their routine for fitness, and most will talk about the power of continuous learning. They are all absolutely dedicated to practicing regular business-boosting habits.
The following 3 habits are easy to emulate, and can be seamlessly incorporated into your routine. They just might make the difference between stagnated personal growth and the inflection point on your competency, responsibilities and salary. The trick, as with any habit, is in making it stick.
1. Practice ACTIVE thinking
Can you place the last time that you came up with a great idea or had true fluidity and clarity of thought? For those I interviewed, they often do a lot of thinking and problem solving while they are on the move. During their jog, or as they are on a walk, their thoughts have hyper-clarity and focus. The benefits of daily physical exercise are well known, including stress reduction, improved mental acuity, and cardiovascular health. And it can be an invaluable business resource.
“I owe a lot of my winning decisions to my exercise routine,”one CEO says. “Life is busy, and I rarely have time to focus on specific issues uninterrupted… But when I’m out cycling, for an hour I am uninterrupted and invigorated. I feel positive, alive, and my brain just solves problems almost unconsciously.”
So try this, while you are walking home take a longer route to think; while you are on the treadmill, focus on a challenge you are having at work. Very quickly, you will see that your brain and muscles are well-connected to help produce better outcomes for you.
2. Set ambitious goals
Ask yourself these questions: What ambitious goals excite you? Can you do something about it in the next 3 months? next 3 weeks? next 3 days?
Now write them down. Keep it neatly displayed in your field of view at work.
Winning CEOs have the well-developed habit of setting goals that motivate themselves and their people. They regularly take time to define success and set goals. The power comes from getting specific with timelines and actions.
At least once a week, you should practice the habits of looking at your industry and develop a vision for it. Then, figure out how you would set ambitious goals to motivate others to join you in realizing that vision.
3. Never waste a meal
This is an Optimity trademarked habit. It is about taking advantage of each meal to give your body the nutrients it needs and also as an opportunity to connect with your fellow men/women.
2 great books bring home the 2 core ideas in this habit:
- “Never eat alone” by Keith Ferrazzi, a book on relationship building.
This book focuses on how each meal is a great time to network, since something special always happens when we spend time together “breaking bread”.
Being connected is a valuable asset in business and in life. Social interactions play a great part in our emotional well-being and our sense of community. So you should build the habit of enjoying food with others: try visiting an acquaintance from a different organization for lunch or invite them over for dinner. If you do this a couple times a week, you will find that your circle of influence have quickly multiplied into a powerful network.
- “Whole” by T. Colin Campbell, a book on nutrition and eating habits.
This book is about the principle of nutrition and the human body: an apple as a whole interacts differently with your body, it cannot be substituted by adding up tablets for vitamin C and A.
It teaches the habit to consume “native forms” of plants, explained by the world of nutritional chemistry. We in our career-building phase of 20 years, get to enjoy close to 22,000 meals (if you eat thrice a day). Effectively after these years, your body will be completely build and re-build with new molecules. So make each meal count, and put good chemistry into your body. Your body is a complex machine, and you deserve premium material to build it.
“Breakfast smoothies are my thing! And I was looking for ways to connect with my staff more, so I started this 1-on-1 breakfast walking meeting thing.” one VP of Sales shared with me. “Any of my staff can book me for a breakfast walking meeting and enjoy one of my smoothies. I started getting to know my people better and I feel incredibly close to my team. As a health bonus, Pat’s wife wrote a thank-you note to me recently! Apparently Pat got on the juicing bandwagon because of me and lost 20lbs over the last year!”
So treasure each meal, as a chance to build your body and bond with those who you want to get to know better. Don’t squander calories and time.
Tiny habits like these will compound over time. Soon, you won’t even need to think to arrange for them in your daily schedule, they will just become a part of your routine. So start today, and keep at it.