In his book, The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, author Charles Duhigg popularized the concept of Keystone Habits. 1
Keystone habits say that success doesn’t depend on getting every single thing right, but instead relies on identifying a few key priorities and fashioning them into powerful levers. If you focus on changing or cultivating keystone habits, you can cause widespread shifts. However, identifying keystone habits is tricky. To find them, you have to know where to look. Detecting keystone habits means searching out certain characteristics. Keystone habits offer what is known within academic literature as “small wins.” They help other habits to flourish by creating new structures, and they establish cultures where change becomes contagious. 1
We all have drama in our lives, from family drama to workplace to spousal and relationship drama. Most of the time, we allow this drama by engaging and enabling dramatic people and situations. I have realized that to have peace of mind, you need to reduce drama and dramatics to the bearest minimum. We stay in familiar relationships with no-growth individuals and constantly nag about the negativity, toxicity and drama we have to deal with constantly. Saying No to drama can be tough, especially with family and friends, but you have to make the tough decision of reducing the amount of time you spend with dramatic people.
We stay stuck in a drama triangle and become helpless and miserable due to our interactions with harmful, toxic, dramatic individuals. It is not a great place to be, as setting boundaries for family and friends can be extremely tough. As Robert Frost noted in his 1914 poem “Mending Walls,” – ‘Good fences make good neighbours.’ Boundaries without consequences is nagging. We constantly complain and nag about people’s dramatics, but we do nothing about it. You need to protect your peace of mind as life is too short to be spending it with people that are not elevating you. Say NO to Drama.
American Writer and Humorist Mark Twain once said, “Do not let schooling interfere with your education.” We live in a world where we equate schooling with being educated, but the reality is that they are different. You can be well-schooled but not educated; as former American President Calvin Coolidge once observed, “The world is full of educated derelicts.”
A typical adult equates the end of formal schooling to the end of education. Meanwhile, education is supposed to draw out our latent curiosity and make us love learning even more. Education is supposed to be lifelong, from cradle to death. The word “education” is derived from the Latin words ēducō, educate, educere and educatum. It means to bring forth, to draw out, to nourish. education is supposed to draw out our hidden talent, which is latent in us, The challenge of our present schooling system is that it is not producing lifelong learners but individuals obsessed with avarice.
How far you go in life is going to be determined by who and what you surround yourself with, be it humans, books, affiliations, or priorities. You’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with – show me your friends, and I’ll show you your future and who you are. Most of us hold on to familiar relationships and allow people to mistreat and abuse us because they are family. The word family is from the Latin Familia 1“servants of a household,” or “domesticus”. We hold on to the known and familiar even when it is not taking us to where we want to go or giving us joy. Life is too short to spend time or energy with someone or something that is not serving your pursuit of joy.
A baseline is a minimum or starting point used for comparisons. Humans are the ultimate adaptation, but our natural state is homeostasis – the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, primarily maintained by physiological processes. We tend to move towards the path of least resistance, and we strive to avoid pain and discomfort. We say we want to be fit, but we eat junk food and avoid going to the gym, we want to be wise, but we avoid reading or surrounding ourselves with wiser people; we want to be wealthy, but we spend more than we earn, we want to be great, but we live a life of mediocrity.
In Habit Stacking: 127 Small Changes to Improve Your Health, Wealth, and Happiness, author S.J. Scott describes the concept of habit stacking and how small changes can lead to considerable improvements in every area of life.
American industrialist and business magnate Henry Ford once said “Whether you think you can, or you think you can‘t–you’re right.” We set limits on our abilities both imaginary and psychological but the reality is that we can all surprise ourselves by what we can accomplish if we set our mind to it. As Napoleon Hill noted in his classic book, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.”
The most egalitarian resource in the world is time; we are all allocated the same amount daily. We have 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week, 720 hours a month, and 8760 hours a year. Time is the most significant lever, you can make more money, but you cannot make more time. When we want to spend our money diligently, we create a spending budget, but we rarely do the same thing with our time. Most of us are not deliberate with how we spend our time; we mindlessly doom scroll social media, gossip about other people and events all day long, spend time with time wasters and entertain ourselves unconsciously without paying attention to the brevity of our time here.
The life expectancy in most developed nations is around 78-80 years, around 10,000. We sleep 1/3rd of our lives and work plus commute takes another 2/3rd. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates once said: “Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in ten years.” We live in Someday Isle, postponing living until we figure it out, but the challenge is that no one has it figured out yet; everyone is winging it. How you spend your time truly reflects your values and priorities. It would help to re-evaluate your priorities, values and commitments to create an effective time budget.
I am now averaging 80-90 hours of exercise every month, 3 hours per day and 1/8th of a typical month is spent working out. How have I done it and consistently showed up to the gym daily? The secret is goal stacking. My daily exercise routine includes shooting basketball, swimming, running, weightlifting, pickleball, and outdoor cycling. Thanks to the power of goal/habit stacking, here is a breakdown of my training stats from Strava:
2023 so far: 453 Hours | 1434.9 Kilometers covered | 140 personal best | 525 activities
January (| 31 DAYS | 83 Hours | 327 kilometers | 2 Personal Records | 119 Activities)
February ( 28 DAYS | 66 Hours | 191 Kilometers | 4 Personal Records | 91 Activities)
March ( 31 DAYS | 94 Hours | 223 kilometers | 1 Personal Records | 111 Activities)
April (30 DAYS | 90 Hours | 157 Kilometers | 1 Personal Records | 91 Activities)
May ( 31 DAYS | 48 Hours | 265 Kilometers | 62 Personal Records | 45 Activities)
June ( 30 DAYS | 72 Hours | 272 Kilometers | 70 Personal Records | 68 Activities)
Worth is the value of something measured by its qualities or by the esteem in which it is held. 1 You are not your mistake, failed marriage, lost job, failed exam, or your material possessions. The value you place on yourself determines how others treat you, just like the dollar bill is always worth a dollar no matter what you do to it: rumple it, step on it, tear it, still a dollar. Why? Because the marketplace and the society agreed to accept it as legal tender no matter what. High self-worth boosts your self-confidence and self-esteem; you tell people how to treat you by the worth you place on yourself.
Most of us live an “If then” life, if I succeed, get rich, have cars…then I will be happy. We attach our self-worth to our worldly attachment and self-identity with them. When we lose these possessions or accolades, it often affects our self-esteem and self-confidence. In his 2005 interview with Jay Stone, Canadian actor and comedian Jim Carrey made the following observations – earlier in his career, he believed that making just one more film, getting one more hit, would be enough, but he got tired of being emotionally disappointed.
“You just go like, ‘Yeah, it was a fantastic hit, but what now?’” Carrey’s advice: “I think everybody should get rich and famous and everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that that’s not the answer.”
I lost my mum to cancer in 2019, and it is one of the hardest things I have had to deal with. She gave me two vital gifts before she left: the gift of life and the paradigm shift of living like every day could be your last. Mum was healthy before the diagnosis and was gone in less than ten months. Losing my mum at 55 was tough, as she was on the verge of reaping from the seeds she had sown in her children, business and life in general. Since losing her in 2019, I have had a different outlook on life, and as a result I strive to make every day a masterpiece. As the saying goes, yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery; today is a gift; that is why it is called the present.
My mum used to say, “We might think our life would be short and it would be long; we might think it would be long and it would be short.” This was one of her favourite sayings, and at the time, I did not understand that statement, but now I do. It can be tough living in the moment as many things are fighting for our attention, such as work, recreation, and living up to our responsibilities. The challenge for most of us is that we delay living our lives and constantly live in tomorrow. We say things like someday I will start a business when I have enough money, go on vacation when the kids leave the house, someday I will write a book when I have read enough books, and I am more established. We live an “If then” life – if this happens, I will do that. We don’t have convictions; hence we vacillate from one idea to another.
The are no guarantees in life. You might put in the work in a relationship but break up is still a possibility; you might go to the gym daily, and the biceps doesn’t show up according to your timeline; you might start a business venture, and you don’t get traction, you might train hard for a marathon, and you get a deep muscle pull in the race. Whenever you stretch yourself by aiming higher than you did in the past, the guarantees for success become lower as you strive to achieve your goals. Like in a marathon race, the farther you go, the lesser the applause from the crowd. When the going gets tough, you know your true strength; it is easy to get fired up when the applause is high from the world, but the real test is how you navigate the trying times.
As Martina McBride sang in her song “Do It Anyway.”
The Golden Rule: Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you.
The Golden Rule states that you treat others as you want them to be treated. The rule has various forms in most religions and creeds around the world. The Platinum Rule states that Treat others as they want to be treated. Dealing with people and managing relationships with family and friends can be tricky, especially when we don’t follow the golden rule.
The Platinum Rule: Treat others as they want to be treated.
The Golden Rule seems to be very straightforward for living a peaceful life. The simplicity of the rule makes it even harder to implement, as common sense is usually not common. We live in a world where we complicate everything; I am of the opinion that if we all followed the golden rule, the world would be a better place.