Clients often remark with surprise how focused and disciplined I am. But that’s what they hire me for; to tap into my wellspring of commitment and tenacity to learn how to magically become more focused and disciplined themselves. They seek my secret sauce to learn how to apply it to their own lives and businesses.
Truth be told: you won’t achieve more focus and discipline magically, and even my wellspring of commitment and tenacity runs dry on occasion. There is a secret sauce though, and I’ll share with you exactly what I do to stay focused and optimize both my creativity and productivity.
Some clients bristle at the words focus, discipline, commitment, and tenacity; creative folks especially. They like to be in a state of flow, waiting to be inspired and following their intuition. Yet it’s these same folks who wonder why their business isn’t flourishing, or why they’re frustrated at work and feel their creativity is often stifled. I wrote a post last year around this time, 3 Time Management Tips for Creative People because their struggle is real.
Every single one of you is creative to some extent. I’m more left brain, logical dominant so determination and goal attainment drive me more than creativity. Yet, if I don’t do something creative like write every single day, whether drafting a blog, creating curriculum for an online course, or penning my thoughts in my journal, I too feel stifled. So when I share with clients that I engage both my left and right brain throughout my day and get alot done in my business and life, they are curious how I do it.
My answer: very carefully! [tee hee]
Seriously, in order to satisfy my need to be creative while also being wildly productive, I’ve honed and developed 3 skills; 3 ingredients if you will, to optimize my production. Mixed together they create both a physical and mental space that fosters fertile idea generation and promotes high output. I dedicate requisite amounts of a-ttention and in-tention to each ingredient.
Ingredient #1: Daily self-care
First, I create an empowering and nurturing mental space with daily self-care. After reading The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod several years ago, followed by The New Psycho-Cybernetics by Dr. Maxwell Maltz [updated by Dan Kennedy], and The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, I experimented and created my own daily routine. There is plenty of evidence available from these and other books touting the benefits of investing in yourself. I added my own book to the mix last year when I published Own Your Greatness. Here are the ingredients in my daily self-care secret sauce:
I take several slow, deep breaths to get grounded and centered in my body, mind and spirit. If something upsets me or stresses me any time of the day, I remember to take several slow, deep breaths. There’s now scientific proof that this act can significantly reduce and dissipate cortisol [the fight or flight hormone] in the brain and bring about calm in a matter of minutes.
Or listen to, something educational, motivational, or inspirational. I am a voracious reader. I split my book consumption fairly equally between two topics: business and science. Business books include those on sales, entrepreneurship, startups, and success. I read science-ish books on the psychology and neuroscience of relationships, communication, and success again. And for a little variety, I read self-help books on happiness and, for the win, success!
For the smallest to the largest things. It could be a good night’s sleep, or that I am having a record year in business. When I appreciate what I already have, I instantly achieve a different perspective. When I practice appreciation, or gratitude, any time I’m stressed or frazzled, coupled with a breathing meditation, I shift my mental state to one of ease and flow. It makes daily life better and helps me achieve perspective for all that is good.
I notice the Agreements or contracts I have with myself that aren’t workable or don’t serve me and consciously decide to change them to more useful and effective agreements. Everything you do is based on agreements you have made. In these agreements you tell yourself who you are, what everyone else is, how to act, what is possible, and what is impossible. What you have agreed to, or believe, creates what you experience.
I choose an agreement that I’ve held about myself that doesn’t serve me and change it to serve my highest good. For example, I’ve been struggling to write a blog post. Instead of agreeing that I don’t like doing marketing, it’s hard, and I’m out of ideas to write about, I changed my agreement. When I got up this morning, I decided the agreement today is, ‘I will find something new and interesting to write about via my daily practice.’ Voila! Through my daily practice, I came up with the idea for this blog post.
I visualize what I want to accomplish; embodying my new agreements and consciously choosing who I am and what’s possible. This is the single most powerful technique in the morning routine. In The New Psycho-Cybernetics, Dr. Maltz relays multiple stories about world-class athletes and everyday people who used the power of visualization to positively change their lives and achieve astonishing feats. Everything from winning multiple championships to overcoming lifelong fears and closing monster business deals.
I exercise on average three times a day in the form of vigorously walking my dog for 25 to 30 minutes twice a day, and 25 to 45 minutes of yoga. The virtues of regular exercise don’t need to be extolled in this blog post ad nauseum.
Writing has been a part of my life since I was a teenager. It’s an excellent way for me to process emotions, thoughts, and feelings that I’ve had throughout the day. It helps me articulate experiences I’m having that I sometimes don’t understand. It’s an act of releasing too. By penning my contemplation’s, I can reflect and achieve perspective and let go of the emotions associated with my thoughts.
Most of these practices I do throughout the day; some just in the morning, others only in the evening. But I do them. Every. Day. The first six letters spell out the acronym BRAAVE. Because investing in yourself in these forms of self-care can be seen as an act of bravery.
If you aren’t engaging in some daily habit or routine of self-care, you aren’t building a foundation for creativity and productivity. Without a daily investment, you are more likely to be reactive, stressed, and prone to burnout. I challenge you to be BRAAVE – start investing in yourself every day. Spend just a few minutes on each action and see how you feel.
Next week I’ll reveal Ingredient #2 in my secret sauce; it’s the linchpin in the series and a must-read if you really want to achieve high output and near-superhuman productivity.