When you woke up this morning, did you have to hit snooze because you were up late, scrolling on your computer or phone? Did you barely make it to breakfast – or skip it altogether? (Coffee alone doesn’t count as breakfast.)
Did you almost miss your first meeting of the day from dragging your feet? Three hours after you’ve woken up, and you’re already stressed, exhausted and behind.
This is modern life for millions of people today. The question I want to ask you is – is this the way you want to live, to bring out your most important values and become the best version of yourself?
I used to be one of those people. In my 40s, I was driving a Lexus, dressed in Hugo Boss and was all things to all people, all the time. I looked successful, but I was overwhelmed and miserable. My existence was all about work, the phone, the big paycheck and proving myself over and over again.
I didn’t want to admit to anyone, especially myself, that I wasn’t living my values or how to prioritize them. The treadmill of success was all I knew.
I was already doing what mattered most to me – taking care of my kids, my ex-wife, my older parents – but I still needed to give myself permission to love myself as much as I loved them.
It took until after my divorce, until I was suicidal and believed I had no worth, to hit rock bottom and rebound up. I started exercising, listening to inspiring speakers and, with the encouragement of my ex-wife, treating myself like a person of value.
I began to realize that I was already doing what mattered most to me – taking care of my kids, my ex-wife, my older parents – but I still needed to give myself permission to love myself as much as I loved them.
Once I learned how to do that, I began to slowly reinvent myself for the third time – the best time, the one that for 15 years has made me happy and most able to love others.
Today, I’m an executive coach who helps seasoned and rising executives drive success at work and at home by uncovering their values and who they want to become. We work together to uncover what’s truly valuable to them – usually some balance of work success, making the world around them a better place and being present to their families.
And while each person’s life is unique, everyone’s sustainable success tends to be built on three basic principles of personal transformation.
1. Prioritize time for meditation and/or journaling without distractions, preferably in the morning. This will help your mind relax instead of always racing, and orient you toward your best values.
2. Exercise daily. When your body moves well, your mind moves better. Exercise also removes us from daily work and family activities, which is why some of the best ideas come in the middle of running, rowing or racing.
3. Put down the phone. Give your nervous system a break. Leave the work emails and website skimming for appropriate times. I bet you can find the time for exercise and meditation simply by cutting down on your phone time.
Starting the journey to satisfaction and values-driven joy doesn’t have to be dramatic. I often tell my finance clients – busy people who are trained to work as hard and as long as possible – to start with just a minute of meditation over coffee.
Take one minute a day to look at nothing in particular, and just settle into a comfortable thought. Doing this once a day for an entire week is the starting place for what becomes two, then 10, then 30 or 60 minutes each day of meditation and rejuvenation.
That’s where I start my day, especially when traveling for speaking engagements – an hour of exercise, meditation and prayer each morning.
Your answer doesn’t have to be meditation, but it does have to involve stepping away from everything. You can call it journaling, meditation or prayer; what matters is that activating your mind in a relaxed way restores inner peace, rejuvenates our energy and values and allows us to prepare for the challenges ahead.
The same is true for your exercise routine. It doesn’t matter if you run, lift weights or climb cliffs. Moving your body is what matters.
It’s often very difficult to dramatically change lifestyle habits and routines. What can help ease the transition are small habits like listening to a podcast, relaxing music or a chant to prepare your mind to settle in. Even something as simple as chewing sugar-free gum can ease stress and improve attention, especially when we’re feeling stretched and stressed.
While your changes don’t have to be as dramatic or painful as mine, they can be just as empowering and impactful.
And any of these smaller practices can be incorporated into many activities, such as on the way to the grocery store or when using the bathroom, to continuously practice being present.
Your better tomorrow doesn’t need to be the same disaster as this morning was. Fifteen years ago, I had to rip off the Band-Aid of my life to build a values-driven, joyful life.
And while your changes don’t have to be as dramatic or painful as mine, they can be just as empowering and impactful.
Contributor Collective Member
Mark Silverman is a best-selling author, inspirational speaker, executive coach, and podcast host who turns fast-rising high-achievers into effective leaders. He is the author of Only 10s 2.0 and host of the Rising Leader podcast. Mark’s self-published book has sold more than 75,000 copies. Find out more at https://www.markjsilverman.com/