In my last post I talked about growth. For me, it’s what we’re all striving for. And so now that it’s time to set another new year’s resolution, I’m thinking about my something new for 2015 to help me grow.
I hesitate to call this a new year’s resolution, in part because so few people achieve them (only about 8%). For me, my something new for 2015 is about laying a foundation. What can I do that will help me grow in all facets of life? Then, what process do I need to take to ensure this resolution becomes a red giant rather than a shooting star?
In essence, I see my resolution as less of a short-term endeavor. Rather, I want to create another lifelong, rich habit to help me on my journey.
Whether health, performance, or well-being, the habits we create and execute each day determine a large part of our success. In fact, about 40 percent of our daily actions are habits, actions we condition ourselves to do based on some trigger and reward (whether consciously thought about or not). For a deeper dive on the psychology and neuroscience behind habit formation, I recommend reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg.
My question then became: what habit can I form to help maximize my performance (I’m including cognitive here too), health, happiness, and fulfillment?
Towards the end of 2014 I began to meditate. For several months, it was more of an ad-hoc practice, meditating when I could or when I remembered. But, for 2015, my goal is to institute a daily practice for myself.
But why meditation? I have a ton of thoughts buzzing around my head. I often feel like I’m running from one thing to the next. My mind drifts to thinking about things to do rather than those I am doing. Meditation is about becoming mindful of the present. During those minutes (or hours if you’re to that level) of stillness, attention draws to the present moment, such as creating an intense focus on breathing or chanting. Whatever the preferred method, it’s about checking your outside thoughts at the door and coming back to them later.
Meditation is also a powerful tool for controlling how we react to stressful situations, and therefore our body’s stress reaction too. Things like emotional balance, immunity, blood pressure and inflammation all tend to improve after bouts of meditation.
With all of the benefits, it shouldn’t be surprising that so many high-performing individuals meditate on a daily basis. For example, well-known entrepreneur, investor, and best-selling author Tim Ferriss described on a recent podcast of his how meditation was one of the few common threads he observed among all of his podcast guests, which range billionaire investors, to professional athletes, to world class artists. Tom Corley, author of Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals also alludes to a daily focus on health and controlling thoughts and emotions as common habits of successful (however you choose to define it) individuals.
The beauty of meditation is a little can go a long way. One or two 5-10 minute sessions everyday can be all you need. For me, I began by meditating first thing in the morning. It’s usually quiet and still dark outside, providing an ideal environment. Sometimes I will meditate while in the sauna at the gym, like I described in this post. Meditating first thing in the morning helps put me in a relaxed and positive mindset – a great way to start the day. I find it helps with mood, creativity, and stress management. I also meditate in the afternoon, in the thick of the day when things seem chaotic and stressful. Meditating helps to re-balance.
Do you meditate? As somewhat of a newbie, I’m open to suggestions or resources. Please feel free to leave a comment below.
My best wishes for 2015!