A decision, yes a decision. What the hell did you think I was talking about? I’ve been thinking about decisons a lot lately. We all make them all day long, so often that we treat them like all but a few don’t matter. What I’m realizing is: They all matter. Each and everyone counts. They count towards whether or not you stick to your health goals, your work goals, your life goals.
I’ve been reading The Compund Effect by Darren Hardy. I say reading, but I do audio books on my commute, same thing really. Except, when I hit a good book with lots of usable concepts, I will listen to it over and over. Much like a preschooler with the movie “Annie”. Except hearing good concepts over and over doesn’t make me want to go running into the woods yelling “make it stop, for the love of God make it stop!”
The premise of the book is: Every decision you make, good or bad, compounds. Choose to work out today? Great, you’re more likely to do so again tomorrow. Choose not to work out? More likely to not work out tomorrow. It’s the simple law of inertia. A body in motion tends to stay in motion, a body at rest tends to stay at rest.
But, it’s not just about exercise. It’s about everything you do. What you put in your mouth or don’t put in your mouth, the business calls you make or don’t make, the attention you give your spouse or don’t give your spouse, the time you spend on social media or don’t spend on social media. each decision matters because each decision leads to the next decision.
I’m no better at this than you. I make goals, then sometimes forget about them or let them atrophy. I can be good for a while, then get distracted by pressing matters and fall off my routine. Sometimes I just want to sit on the couch and stare at NCIS, ok, multiple episodes of NCIS (one from each city in the continental US if possible. They’re starting New Orleans in a few weeks!) followed by The Daily Show, Modern Family, Dancing With the Stars (yeah, I know you didn’t see that one coming) and forget about Sundays with 4 football games. I can become useless very quickly.
To fight back against my tendency towards lethargy, I try and keep on a schedule of working out my mind and my body. Another recent read is “The Power of Full Engagement” by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz. The premise of that book is that if you want to accomplish your goals and create a significant life and career, you have to train with the intensity of an athlete. they bring up the concept of “The Corporate Athlete” and I am taking it seriously. I’m also wishing I had known about the concept 30 years ago and as a young actor and musician, embraced the idea of “The Artistic Athlete.”
If you were a golfer, tennins player, football player, etc, you would train your body everyday for hours. You would practice insesently, you would study tape, your playbook, your swing. You would prepare by making decisions to practice another hour, get a little stronger. Whatever you could do to get the slightest edge. Did you know that the difference between the #1 ranked golfer and the number 10 ranked golfer is an average of 1.8 strokes. Not per round, per season!
If that doesn’t prove that every decision counts, I don’t know what does. Yes, I know, we’re not golfers, but don’t kid yourself, we’re all in competition. The next shoot, the next deal, the next client. Are you doing all you can to compete fully? Because one thing is universal: The edge will always go to the disciplined person willing to do slightly more.
Lets start with the fundamentals. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating the right food in the proper amounts? Are you exercising? Are you at your optimum weight? To go further, are you studying or practicing your craft intensely between gigs? All these things speak directly to your ability to perform on a consistently high level.
The best way to become world class at anything is to set a routine. Athletes thrive on routine and we all should too. I am in the process of setting a routine for myself. It’s not perfect yet, but it’s getting better. I have one advantage that I know of. I love to check boxes off. So, I made an excel sheet with the days of the week across the top and a list of actions down the left side. Everything is listed from exercise and did I eat salad today, to certain kinds of business calls I need to make.
It’s dorky I know, but I have to say, since beginning the practice, I am sticking to my routine a lot more. It forces me to make those moment to moment little decisions that compound towards the positive and keeps me away from the little decisions that compound to the negative. Think about it. Can you make your life and career better by instituting a little routine and discipline?
Even this is on my chart: Did I write a blog post? Check, blog post written… Sigh of satisfaction.