Today, I woke up feeling like crap. After downing the morning coffee, I just stared at Instagram for the next hour in a messy brain-fog. Have you ever had mornings like this?
Getting back after the holidays full of irregular sleeping, eating like a pig, no exercise, and countless other reasons, I found myself in a bad place. The year was about to start with a discord.
Sitting there, I had just wasted my chance of hitting the gym. I had made a grand plan of hitting it three times every week and knew my way around the meal plan too. Now, everything was wrong; everything was broken, unfixable. Me just sitting there, feeling like a total failure for not following through with the commitment to myself.
The truth is that I was no stranger to mornings like this, and I bet you aren’t either. These mornings always come uninvited, and everybody faces them.
Plans fail, people get off track, discipline can falter, and sometimes life happens to take your attention off your goals. Succeeding not about flawless execution or sticking to the blueprint of perfection in your mind.
The most important skill is to stand up again. It is to find the trail once more. To be able to fail forward instead of falling into the self-loathing and brain-fog that is quick to take me, and possibly you too.
Finally, I stood. I exhaled a bad-smelling coffee breath towards the toilet mirror and made my first move of self-correction. Staring myself in the eye, I only voiced my thoughts.
”You bastard, what can you do right now to make it better? You’ve faced this beast countless times before, and you already know what works. What are you waiting for?!”
And that’s when it became clear.
Years earlier, I had faced depression and near burnout in the turmoil of my personal and professional life. After a friend took his own life while battling his demons, the pendulum swung for me.
The incident stopped me completely. I knew something had to change. The biggest common denominator of my adversities was hiding in plain sight, staring back from the mirror. It was me.
Success is a few simple disciplines practiced every day became my mantra as I poured myself into studying and implementing new rituals around reading, meditation, time management, journaling, planning, exercising, eating, and sleeping. I got myself a personal coach and started investing both time and money in recrafting myself.
Not long after starting, a friend, Dr. Simo Hosio, joined the journey. From what we learned during those years of exploration, curiosity, and implementation, we crafted a method that we now call the Kaizenhour.
Standing there in my bathroom, I repeated the question.
”You’ve faced this beast countless times before, and you already know what works. What are you waiting for?!”
I took off my shirt, stormed to the door, put on the sneakers, and sprang out into the cold winter morning. As the first snowflakes touched my skin, I knew I was free again. I had reclaimed my confidence, self-worth, and energy.
Kaizenhour is about reorganizing the brain in any and every situation you may face. The following three Kaizenhour rituals are tools to help you stay on track towards your goals and dreams. They sure have helped me.
Ritual #1: Create A Sense Of Accomplishment
Isn’t it true that it can be tough to think yourself out of a loop of disempowering thoughts? If you’ve ever had trouble sleeping because of swarming thoughts, you know what I mean.
As I see it, the fastest way to reorganize the brain is through the body. A radical change in breathing, posture, and facial expression is enough the demonstrate what I mean.
You can try it right now by jumping up, conjuring up a crazy-person-smile, and taking ten deep breaths the way you would if you were running or even having sex if you dare. Now, observe how you feel. Is there more or less energy inside you?
The first ritual is this: Do something physical that you don’t necessarily want to do, but feel great once you’ve done that! Consciously generate a feeling of accomplishment.
That’s what I did this morning. It was only a 5 minute, shirtless run outside while it was snowing. And I believe only 2 minutes would have been enough to breakthrough the brain-fog I had.
Now it’s your turn. Pause for a moment. Make a list of 3–5 small things that you might not want to do, but you know it feels amazing afterward. It doesn’t need to be big, as long as it’s meaningful to you.
Some of the things on my list are
- Shirtless runs outside,
- short cold showers,
- doing 30 deep breaths to make me feel light-headed followed by a max number of push-ups I can do that day,
- faking a laugh for 2 minutes (this usually turns into real laughter quickly), and
- go for a swim in natural water (both summer and winter).
Consistency is the unlock of growth. You can’t hit the gym once and then expect muscles. Consistency is your only option to experience level-ups.
Now, imagine if you picked one item from your list and did it every day for the next 14 days. What kind of a mental muscle would you start building? Would you experience more self-worth, confidence, and energy in your life if you could follow through with the commitment?
Ritual #2: Lead Your Attention
Have you ever tried to grow flowers or other plants? What happens when you ignore them for long enough?
Naturally, they start to wither and die.
You probably guessed my next question too. What do you need to do to make the plants grow?
Of course, they need attention in the form of care, cover, light, water, and nutrition. With enough attention, the plants flourish to bear a harvest.
To me, it seems like the same principle applies everywhere in life. Things you attend tend to grow. Just think about your relationships, health, or personal finances. If you give consistent attention to those areas, is it more or less likely that they do better and grow? And now you can extend the question about attention to all the negative things, like your fears and worries.
Doesn’t it make you think?
I dare to say that the skill of leading your attention is at the core of both achievement and happiness. With that in mind, does your attention currently empower or undermine your success and happiness? How could you learn to lead attention and make it serve you?
Questions are the answer.
Attention goes where you lead it by the questions you consistently ask.
Observe your mind, feelings, and energy when you ask yourself questions like ”what could go wrong?” or ”what am I ashamed of?”
Now shake it off by moving your body a little. Then take a deep breath and observe again with new questions, ”what am I proud about?” or ”what am I excited about?” or ”what makes me smile?”
The second ritual is this: Guide your attention with questions that empower you. Generate emotional juice by bathing your mind with things that make you excited, proud, grateful, or happy.
That’s what I did this morning after the shirtless run. I took out a pen and paper, sat down with two questions, and kept the pen moving. What am I excited about? What about it makes me excited?
Now it’s your turn. Pause for a moment. Make a list of questions that guide your attention to things that empower you!
Kaizenhour is a method to help you organize your brain towards success and happiness. But as you know, things rarely stay organized for long, unless you work to keep it that way, hence rituals.
Now, pick three questions from your list, and once a day, sit down with them once a day for the next 14 days. If you did this, would your brain learn to generate more empowering emotional juice in your life?
Ritual #3: Make Your Day Matter
Have you ever found yourself thinking in the evening how pointless the day was? I know I have. That was the story of my life at one point.
That will suck the juice out of life. To feel that in the end, you did not matter.
When I started my journey to Kaizenhour, I quickly noticed two ways to live each day. Either you drive the day, OR you let the day drive you.
To me, it seems that too often, people fall for the latter. Symptoms of it are dissatisfaction, overwhelm, contentment, anger, and blaming.
To be able to answer ”yes” to the most critical question of the day,” did I matter?” you most likely need to start a journey. While the question is simple, the discoveries of this journey are very personal and profound.
So what does it mean for you to matter? Who do you need to touch to feel this way? What kind of impact do you seek to make? What kind of actions contribute to this impact? What’s the smallest actionable thing you can do to feel like moving?
Should you accept the quest and start this journey, it will lead you to think about your mission. What are you about? Why is it that you get out of bed in the morning? Is it because you have to or you want to?
Consistently dedicating personal time to think and clarify your answers to the questions above will guide your decisions and priorities for the rest of your life. This journey is so worth doing.
The third ritual is this: Before you start each day, choose one result or action item that fits this question — ”If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I feel like the day(or I) mattered?” Never step up on your computer or arrive at work without having a clear picture of your one thing to matter.
For the next 14 days, dedicate time in advance to nail the thing of the day. Book it in your calendar and stick to it! And if you don’t have time, maybe that is your most significant thing to deal with before anything else? If you don’t drive your day, the day will drive you.
With practice, this ritual will be fast, and in the evening, you can finally say,” Now that was an epic day. It(I) mattered”
P.S. Join the tribe at https://kaizenhour.com/call-for-adventure/