The days always seem to slip by so fast, and we feel frustrated that we haven’t yet accomplished what we wanted. Why does that happen? This seems to be a universal struggle. When I was younger, I failed and failed and failed at this. I consistently watched each day go by too fast without feeling like I was accomplishing much.
Recently, I talked to my brother about this. He reminded me that in the past, when it came to my health, I would say, “Oh, I don’t need to work out; I play soccer.” I was playing soccer once or twice a week. But I was still tired. The truth is, I needed to work out a lot more often and do other types of exercise, including strength training. But I was making excuses about why I didn’t need to do what I knew I needed to do.
But a beautiful thing happens with age — we gain wisdom.
I set out to find a way to keep the days from slipping by without much to show for them. I discovered that the answer lies in being intentional and disciplined about how we spend our time. Winners need discipline, not motivation!
Below, I describe the simple but powerful routine I follow to feel like I’ve accomplished what really matters every single day. I hope you find it useful, too; it is an important part of every high performer’s day.
Build the four components of LIFE into every day
First, when you wake up each morning, identify the activities you must do for that day to be successful. What will you not negotiate about the success of the day? What are the most important things that need to get done so you can feel good and sleep peacefully at night?
What are the most important things in your life? What is the key to having a great life? For me, the four most important aspects of life form the acronym LIFE: love, impact, faith and energy. You can determine your priorities by honoring these four components of your life every day.
- Love: Who do you love? How can you show up for those loved ones? Maybe you just need to communicate with them, whether it’s via a text, an email, a phone call or a visit. Or maybe you need to help them with something specific. When I connect with my mom, I feel like I have accomplished something important. I’ll call her and say, “Hey, Mom, how are you? I love you. I’m happy. I’m healthy. Life is good.” That’s what she wants to know. I also want to know how she’s doing, so I will ask, “Are you doing OK? Do you need anything?” It’s a simple conversation that takes less than five minutes. Well, because both my mom and I have severe ADHD, it’s more like 11 minutes. But that call is really important.
When I’m out of town, I make sure I connect my kids and my wife. I will send my kids a text and ask them about soccer practice or whatever else they’re doing. I want to keep my finger on the pulse on what’s most important to them, even if I’m not there.
- Impact: What actions can you take to make the most positive impact on the world around you? This is important. Are you doing something good for someone else every single day? It can be something simple, but often, even simple gestures carry a lot of impact.
Who did you help, and how? Did you help someone carry something? Did you open a door? Did you smile at someone who needed compassion? Did you pick something up for lunch to help a friend who was too busy to get it? How did you make a difference? What impact did you make
? What impact did you make, no matter how minute? I reflect on this every night before I go to sleep.
- Faith: What do you need to do to practice and strengthen your faith? What is bigger than yourself, and how can you honor it?
Faith has always been a huge part of my life. I serve God, and because of that, I am better off every day. Each day, I figure out how I can put my faith into action.
- Energy: And finally, what do you need to do to increase your energy? That’s how you show up to the world. To me, energy is health. It’s what you eat, what you put into your body. It’s how you exercise your mind, your body and your spirit. Do you meditate? How are you showing up every day? Is it the best version of yourself? Are you really taking care of yourself?
These four components are foundational to a successful day.
What my typical day looks like
When I wake up, I start with spirituality. The first thing I do is to listen to a few Scripture readings, and then I say prayers. That sets the tone for my day.
Then I get out of bed and have a cup of coffee and interact with my wife and children. We are not rushed; we’re focused. Next, I head to my home gym to work out. For years, I had a personal trainer and worked out at a gym. But now, I just walk into the garage and work out and spend a little time in the sauna, while praying and meditating. That’s when I prepare mentally for my day.
Next I drive to work. By the time I arrive at my office, typically the only key component I haven’t addressed yet is impact. So during the day, I look for opportunities to make an impact in someone else’s day and life. It is extremely important for me to address all four components so that by the time I head home for the day, I feel like I have accomplished everything I need to. I can go home and feel really good about my day.
Figure out what works for you
It can take some trial and error to figure out how to fit these four components your day.
For example, when I first started following this routine, I found it very hard to work out in the afternoon or evening. By then, I was mentally exhausted. I had already spent all my energy going to work, taking my kids to soccer practice, and taking care of chores around the house. It worked out much better for me to in the morning. I started doing that more than 15 years ago, and it became a daily habit.
To feel a sense of accomplishment, you have to own your day. And to do that, you have to identify the who, what, why and how of your daily activities. It’s going to be the best thing you ever did in your life. It will make each day worth remembering when you lay your head on that pillow.
Take a moment to think about how you can build the four LIFE components into your day tomorrow.
- Love: Who do you love? How can you show up for those loved ones? To whom will you send a text or email just to check in? Who will you call? Who will you visit? Who can you help by running an errand or helping out in some other way?
- Impact: What actions can you take to make the most positive impact on the world around you? What gesture can you make, even if it’s simple, to help someone outside your home? Who around you seems to be struggling and in need of a smile or a few minutes to talk?
- Faith: What do you need to do to practice and strengthen your faith? What is bigger than yourself, and in what specific ways can you honor it?
- Energy: What will you do tomorrow to increase your energy? How will you take care of yourself? Be specific. Will you work out in the morning, go for a walk at lunch time or go for a swim after work?