We already know WHAT to do.
We know what we need to do in order to get in shape and generally take good care of our bodies.
We know what we should do to keep our mental and emotional health in good order.
We know what we should do in terms of treating others and approaching life to have healthy relationships and be happy.
We know what we should do with money, and with our car, and our homes, and our computers, our appliances, and our furnishings to keep them all in good working order.
We know it all. And if we don’t know, it’s easy to find out.
The ‘what’ is not a problem. And, the ‘doing’ is not the problem either. People do these things all the time – they exercise, they manage relationships, money, work. People don’t neglect their finances because the raw physical activity of typing numbers, or filing receipts, is too challenging.
The challenging part is learning HOW to do it. How often, how hard, how soft, how efficiently, how precise, how…when you don’t feel like it, how…when the going gets tough, how….when you can’t envision the reward.
The how is the key. And the how is simply learning and practicing these skills:
Discipline is the master skill. It is required in getting started, staying on track, and keeping the right (positive) attitude and perspective. We call it discipline, but it’s a bunch of micro-skills working together…self-control, will, motivation, perspective, happiness, toughness, self-compassion, vision, and probably a dozen other mental micro-skills and traits that make it up. It’s essential, so it’s the most important skill to learn and practice.
Focus is key in channeling energy in the right amounts. Again, it’s a skill to learn, not something that comes naturally – at least not without a big rush of adrenaline in an emergency situation for example. Focusing on maintaining your refrigerator is not something we are genetically coded with. And focus is limited, so learning focus is about learning how to precisely apply and govern our attention and energy. What gets our attention, how much of it, with what energy level, and when.
Effectiveness goes hand in hand with focus, and acts as the command and control of focus. Effectiveness is about balancing planning with doing. Effectiveness is the tree you climb along the trail to make sure you’re taking the smartest, easiest, most logical and direct path. Effectiveness is the skill of balancing energy with direction, knowing when to apply the brakes, when to stop, and when to pour it on. Without it, focus and discipline are wastes of time and energy. Summoning all of your discipline and focus to keep sailing onward day after day is wonderful…unless you’re sailing in the wrong direction.
Habits, or habit-forming, is a simple skill, but is practiced only by the advanced. Habits are extremely powerful, allowing us to rapidly outsource difficult physical and mental tasks to our automatic systems. There they become nearly effortless force multipliers. They are the whole driving power behind significant, lasting change and progress. Habit-forming is self-programming, turning simple daily actions into powerful long-term results.
The beauty of these skills is that they are universal. The how skills apply to everything, from optimizing health, to growing wealth, to getting an extra 50,000 miles out of your car, to growing better tomatoes in your garden. Whatever the valuable end goal may be, it can be done by learning and practicing these simple skills.
The how skills allow you to transform your desires into accomplishments.