You Get What You Focus On
One of my first jobs, at the age of 10 or 11, I had a newspaper route. My older brother and I shared the duties of delivering the morning news to two neighborhoods. We served about 100 houses in total. When my older brother retired from the route, I kept it with my younger brother. This was part of my plight as the middle child.
It was hard work for a 10-year-old. Every day of the year, I rose at around 5 am to go out into whatever the weather had brought to fold, rubber-band, bag, and then deliver the papers. Rain, snow, dark, Christmas, my birthday, weekdays, weekends, sick days, every day, no matter what, I delivered the paper.
To be honest, I didn’t always love it. Trying the balance 30 lbs. of newspapers on my bike on a 10 degree cold, snowy, icy, or rain-soaked morning wasn’t easy or fun. But on those tough days, I tried to remind myself how important the news was to the families on my route—how the newspaper I delivered was part of their morning ritual. And, therefore, I was part of their morning ritual.
How I prepared and delivered the paper mattered to them. The little things made a difference. I had to protect the papers from the rain, snow, and wind, be there on time, every day. The more I focused on getting the little things right, the more I helped to serve families in their rituals. If the paper was late or wet, their ritual was thrown off, and so was their day.
Rituals matter. The little things matter. What I do day-in and day-out makes a difference in my life. It’s the little things that add up over time to create the outcomes I get. I tend to think of ritualizing as a self-investment multiplier.
In a life where much of what we do is on auto-pilot (as much as 95% in some studies), it’s more important than ever to remember these things:
- Your daily rituals feed you. The little things you do day-in and day-out—create momentum and meaning in your world.
- You are an accumulation of your habits. The more intentional and conscious you are about your daily rituals, the more you grow in the direction of what you want out of life.
- What you nurture grows. What you measure becomes the things you are compelled to act on. As you prioritize your intended outcomes, you’ll measure the things that matter most to you.
- What you decide to measure is what gets improved. There’s nothing wrong with tracking your progress—it’s essential to help you decide on your ongoing strategy and fix the things that aren’t working.
- Look beyond the obvious for opportunities. By looking at progress, growth, and evolution from every angle, not just the most obvious and easiest one to measure, you’ll discover blind-spots and opportunities.
- You are the pilot and the control tower. You have total control over what you do, measure, and give attention to. The beauty is that you get to decide what’s most important to give you attention to, and what outcomes are most important to you.
- You get what you focus on. The little things you do accumulate into the big outcomes you get. Yes, it’s that simple.
While studies vary on how long, it’s been said to take between 21-60 days to create a new habit. The more intentional you are about how you approach your rituals and habits, the faster they turn into strong results. So then, some questions for you to consider:
- As the world readies itself to reopen, what are the habits that you’ve created during this time that you will keep? What will you not go back to?
- What are the rituals that feed your life? Your work? Your culture? Your soul? Your relationships at work and at home?
- What are you doing now, habitually, that’s no longer serving you? What areas of your life are on autopilot that you can take the wheel on?
- What are the little things that you are doing each and every day that will create the big results you’re looking to realize?
- Are you climbing the right mountain, your mountain, or someone else’s?
- Are there new micro-disciplines that you can employ to invest in yourself in the long-run?
A micro-discipline is some little act you dedicated yourself to doing each and every day to build up new habits, new skills, new commitments, bit results. Someone close to me confided that they’re committing to a new daily micro-ritual for the next year. In a year from now, this will be 365 days of practice. Now, just imagine the results you can create and how that will better your world.
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