I’ve just made a bold promise.
But 315 days ago, today, I started a simple experiment.
And every day since then, I’ve only become more convinced of the power of this one little lesson.
First, a side story…
I was hanging out at the neighborhood pool this morning with my three kids. The two youngest were drying off after swim lessons, and the oldest was getting ready to start swim and dive team practice.
The swim team was getting ready to do a special training regimen today that they call “The Fox Trot.” Not the dance, and far more than a trot — this is cross-training at its finest.
I don’t remember all the details, but the gist of it is this: bodyweight exercise, swim, bodyweight exercise, run, and repeat… Lap, after lap, after lap…
They’d even set up a running course around the pool’s perimeter, for the runners.
At one of the bodyweight exercise stations, they were going to be doing burpees.
Now, for those in the know, burpees are evil exercises. They work almost every muscle in your body. Until they burn. Often, within minutes. Or just a couple reps, if you’re not in shape.
Well, Dominic asks, “What’s a burpee again?”
And so, I show him. I hit the concrete pool deck and do five burpees, very quickly.
I’m not even starting to feel it, or be winded. In fact, I only stopped because it was a bit awkward for me to be doing a bunch of burpees in the middle of the pool deck, while the kids were standing around and the life guards trying to get the pool ready for practice.
I could have knocked out 15 more. Then maybe another 20 more after that. They felt good.
Rewind a year — 50 days before I started the experiment I mentioned above?
Five burpees would have killed me.
What’s the difference? And what the heck is this experiment I’ve been running now for almost a full year?
Well, on September 1st, 2016, I started a simple ritual.
The first thing I do in the morning, when I wake up, is I go downstairs, to my scale, and stand on it. I enter the weight and the time I weighed in into a spreadsheet.
And then, I go on with my day.
On September 1st, 2016, I entered 207.2 pounds into my spreadsheet.
It was near the heaviest I’d weighed in my entire life.
Not extraordinarily heavy, but one thing was clear: I had been letting my weight get out of control.
With that, my fitness was declining. I was getting short of breath easier. And my blood pressure, never low, was consistently higher than it should be to stay healthy.
Not only that, even just a few extra pounds meant I was less able to be physically engaged and involved with my kids. They’re little fountains of endless energy, so I still can’t keep up. But if I kept adding pounds at the industrialized world average of a pound or two per year, I was going to just keep struggling to even try.
I’d heard, at one point, about a guy who managed to maintain a healthy weight just by stepping on the scale every day. If he was at the top of his ideal weight range, he’d be a little more careful with his diet that day. If he was lower in the range, he’d eat a little more freely.
I definitely had that in mind when I started weighing myself every morning, but I didn’t even make it about that. I just made it about the process of going downstairs, first thing, and weighing in.
This became my keystone habit — and has completely transformed my body and mind in the last 10 months…
You see, this simple habit led to a whole bunch of positive choices, and powerful new habits.
First and foremost, it made me very aware of my food choices. Not just types of food. I’m not on a specific restrictive diet, and I still eat things like pizza, ice cream, and so on. But especially how much food I’m eating.
For instance, I have a favorite cereal bowl I like to use. It’s very big. I like it because it’s big. But the reality is, if I were to actually measure serving sizes, it’s something like three or more servings of most cereals. I started using a smaller bowl, which, even when filled, keeps me at about two servings of cereal.
My serving sizes throughout the day had all been similarly leading to me eating a little more food at every meal.
Now, almost no matter what you’re eating, if you’re eating more energy than your body uses in a day, it’s going to store some of that. That leads to weight gain.
By weighing myself every day, I thought about what impact those serving sizes were having. And by simple choices like grabbing smaller dishes to eat from, I developed a habit of smaller portion sizes.
But the changes didn’t stop there.
A couple months later, on November 5th, I decided that after weighing in, I’d start meditating every day. It started with 10 minutes, and has since increased to 15. Today, I have a 250-day unbroken streak of daily meditation.
That has led to a new focus and clarity, and the implementation of specific organizational and productivity systems in my business that have given me a renewed energy, clarity, and focus toward achieving my biggest long-term goals.
And with that renewed focus, I also started setting monthly fitness goals again, detailing specific amounts of exercise I wanted to get during the month.
Starting in December, I’ve hit every monthly fitness goal since then.
Which brings me back around to the story I used to start this.
Those burpees? Easy. In fact, when I’m done writing this, I may knock out a few more. Just for the fun of it.
And they’re made all the more easy by the fact that since September 1st of last year, I’ve dropped over 30 pounds, am near my weight in college (and well within the healthiest BMI range), and am probably near my best fitness levels of my entire life.
Not only that, my focus and persistence in planning and execution has only continued to improve, which has led to big leaps forward in my business, including the launch of BTMSinsiders.
What is the lesson? What is the takeaway?
(Don’t mess with Maui when he’s on a breakaway! — sorry, couldn’t help myself.)
In short, our lives and success are the result of 100 little habits. These little habits shape our big behavior. And our big behavior determines our destiny.
You want to put yourself on a great path?
What’s one little habit you can change today? Maybe it’s something to add. Maybe it’s something to quit. Your keystone habit. The one little habit that has a thousand little consequences.
It it’s the right habit, it will likely have cascading effects. One little change begets a dozen bigger ones. Those bigger ones change the trajectory of each day. And with that, your whole life shifts.
Until suddenly your life, your career, your business are all reaching new heights you hadn’t imagined.
Oh, and if you want a really good additional habit you could try, especially if you struggle with productivity, try this…
It’s something I got from my coach Joseph Rodrigues, to get rolling again after I was on my road trip to Yellowstone…
Start your day with one Pomodoro, focused on your important task for the day.
That is, when you sit down to work, instead of checking email or Facebook, set a 25-minute timer, and do as much of that task as you can during that window. Then, take a 5-minute break. Often that little habit of starting your day right will be all it takes to be much more productive and focused in pursuit of your highest goals for the entire rest of your day.
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,