I can’t stand when I am not sharp and entirely on point.
I must be mentally clear and keep track of all of the balls I have in the air. But, once in a while, one will drop. And, I get it: we all can get burnt out, and things can fall to the wayside. That’s normal. I can’t stand when I am the one who drops any ball.
But, when I drop the ball, I make a conscious choice to take a step back and see what’s up. Dropping one ball is one thing, but dropping many balls is entirely another. And I get it: letting balls drop increasingly is not a conscious decision that someone is making. But, it could be the sign of something bigger. So, I must nip it in the bud immediately.
We all need to be conscious daily that we are mentally on point and not dropping balls.
Last week I introduced Part 1 of the Health Trifecta (Physical, Mental, and Spiritual) as the cornerstone of my philosophies regarding success. We did the easiest of the three (in my opinion) — the physical. Today, I’m going to talk about the toughest of the 3 — mental health.
I know I’m not alone dropping the ball once in a while and forgetting something significant. Whether it’s not making an important deadline or making a promise that I didn’t deliver to the extent that I demand from myself.
Even worse, we all know someone who doesn’t push themselves to provide the ultimate experience at work — they make excuses why they are not stepping up. Balls drop, and they don’t even realize it. They give justifications why they are dropping balls. They rationalize why they are sleepwalking.
Today, in the second part of our series on The Health Trifecta, I will give you tips on making yourself as sharp as you can mentally.
Now, granted, I may look at someone else’s life and assume they are sleepwalking by their actions. Ultimately, that’s not mine to know. But do I hear people complaining about them not being where they want to be, and I see people going in the same circle over and over? All the time.
My challenge to you: Take a moment to look inward. Are you the one who is sleepwalking through your professional life? Are you mentally on point? Are you delivering all you can be? Are you AWAKE?
If you are not on point mentally, it is time to WAKE UP!
Becoming awake is the greatest tool we have in our possession to keep our mental health sharp.
How do we become awake? You are doing it right now as you read every word. You are using your brain, your cognition, your logic. You are focusing on what I am saying, and you are processing.
Our mind is the greatest tool we are given to wake up. To be aware. To be conscious. Once we are awake, we can start mentally being on point.
Have you had days that seem to run on end, set goals that you suddenly forgot, missed deadlines, or appointments? Why did you do that? You stopped being aware, and you let life take you over. Suddenly, one day bled into the next, then it’s weeks into months, and you lose a year. Or more.
Every day is too precious to walk through your days without clarity.
Ok, before you push back, saying that a lot is going on in the world now, and you need to check out — I will stop you. It is always The Best of Times, The Worst of Times (my friend was an English major and always reminds me of that quote.). That is an excuse to keep sleepwalking during the day.
Does it seem like an extra chore to be awake all of the time, for there is tremendous stimulus all around us on the macro level that can be overwhelming to process? Sure. But it’s still an excuse to sleepwalk. It’s noise, and yes, you need to shut it out. But don’t shut yourself down in the process.
It is vital not to shut down what is coming from within as you tune out what is all around you.
I’m a firm believer in having a routine to help you stay on track. It’s good to mix it up from time to time, but I’ve found that a morning routine gives me my best chance to do what I need for myself mentally. It’s part of my daily ritual to ensure that I am as awake mentally as much as possible.
Sometimes, there are too many things swirling in your mind to process, and the whole system shuts down. I get that. Cylinders are firing off all over the place. It would help if you got these swirling thoughts out of your head as soon as possible.
This is where getting a journal could be vital. Now, this is not the diary that kids use. A journal is simply a place to document random thoughts. Getting them out of your brain will free up bandwidth. Freeing up bandwidth will make you more awake.
A goal of life is to be as conscious, as awake, as you possibly can, as much as possible. I challenge you to become truly awake and alive.
My morning routine has me getting up at 3 am and then having my quiet time, including prayer and devotional. Then, I head out to the gym or work out at my house, depending on what I’m working on. After finishing the workout, it’s off to the office where I have about 2-3 hours to myself, and I spend about 15-20 minutes reading my current book. For me, this is my Health Trifecta daily. Reading is what awakens me mentally.
Then, feeling conscious and aware, I check-in on emails, social media and confirm my to-do’s for the day. Then, I connect with my partner in the logistics company to review the day and go over any potential challenges. I am mentally on point after my daily ritual and am ready for my day’s intricate details.
My morning ritual is a conscious decision to wake me up mentally. This routine keeps me sharp throughout the day.
As someone who has ADHD, this is always a challenge for me. I don’t have it perfected, but one of the things that I have set up is not having notifications going off for email, text, etc., so I stay focused on my current project. This will help me not spend mental bandwidth worrying that I will forget something vital. Having been on social media since 2006 when I joined FB, I learned a lot in the first six years that it can be a time sucker and take you down many rabbit trails.
Social media can be a powerful tool or a complete disruptor to your effectiveness and productivity mentally. Use it sparingly.
Like last week, let’s get to work. Get a piece of paper and a pen. We will use the SMART goal routine to become mentally awake every day and be as sharp as possible. Remember the SMART acronym: Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. Timely.
Number your paper from 1-5. Now, take a few minutes — be awake! Think of ways you can stimulate your intellect daily. Again, for me, I have a morning routine. I strongly suggest that for everyone. As an example, reading is a great way to awaken your consciousness. Also, writing thoughts in a journal can help keep you clear. And, this is a great time to study an entirely new topic. The trick is getting your synapses firing. But, this is about you, not me. What are some books you want to dive into? Many entrepreneurial books are great motivations. Would daily writing in a journal help stimulate you? What about taking on a new (personal) subject that you have an interest in? You need mental stimulation. You need to be the one who decides exactly what that is—brainstorm five ideas.
Like everything else, set a time limit. If you are reading a book from Tim Ferris, for example (and if you don’t know who Tim Ferris is, I highly recommend you google him immediately), give yourself a set time to finish. A month, for example. Of course, some things to awaken your brain don’t have a time measure — like getting thoughts in a journal — but you could make a weekly goal of how many times you write in it. After every goal you brainstormed, give a specific time to achieve it.
Again, all of these mentally stimulating rituals do not have to be focused solely on your professional well-being. If it means reading a great novel every day to awaken you, that will do the trick. However, don’t be that person who gets War & Peace (and please don’t brag about that on social media unless you plan to finish it truly!) and then realize it’s a daunting undertaking to plow through. Then, stop reading and become a mental zombie again. Make these goals achievable.
I own my own companies. I have a schedule to which I make. Yes, I do follow a relatively rigid routine, but ultimately I know I have the luxury to do so. And I also know many of you may not have that flexibility. Planning to have a 2-hour morning ritual may seem luxurious, but we all know it’s not realistic. And, you will be setting yourself up for failure. Start with carving out 30 minutes for your daily mental stimulation. And if that means you wake up 30 minutes earlier in the morning? Could you do it? I need to be honest. I am not very tolerant, listening to people give reasons why they can’t do something. But, I have zero tolerance when someone tells me they can’t get up early. Do it.
Next, look at the list of the 5 (or hopefully more) suggestions you gave yourself to become mentally awake and prioritize them. If you need to move up in your career, reading a business-oriented motivational book may truly be what makes sense. If you feel you are not balanced in your life, reading a novel may give you the mental fulfillment and clarity you need. You could also break your time into segments — 20 minutes on the professional, 10 minutes on something personal. Look, it may not sound like much, but 20 minutes is over an hour and a half per week, over 6 hours in a month. That is a LOT.
Now, finally, I am not discussing larger psychological issues that may be holding you back mentally. I am not a psychologist, and I realize some people need ongoing professional guidance to keep them mentally sharp and on point. If this is you, I encourage you to find professional help. Remember, we think nothing about hiring a personal trainer for our physical health, yet there is a stigma against hiring a mental health care professional for our mental health. Don’t let that fear of shame get in the way of being the best version of yourself.
Becoming awake is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. And, like physical exercise, this “muscle” must be worked out regularly. And, like your body, it will get stronger and grow larger over time. It’s the real connection you can have with yourself.
Look around your world. Look at all the people who are sleepwalking and don’t even realize it. Make the conscious choice to be awake daily.
Last week we discussed getting your physical self back on track. Today, you are challenged to become awake and have a deeper connection with your psyche. Next week, we will bring the trifecta all together by connecting with a higher power.
You are on the way to operating at a higher vibration which will lead to great success.
Now go forth and conquer!