Foreword by Jeffrey Hodges
In yoga philosophy the concept of habits is vital to understanding ourselves. Yoga uses the term ‘samskara’ to describe and explain human habits. It is suggested that every thought, emotion or physical action creates an impression or imprint–a samskara–in the deeper structure of our mind, and these samskaras create tendencies to repeat that thought, emotion or action. Imagine one of the old vinyl records; each time the needle of behaviour runs over the record it scratches a groove in the record. The more a particular behaviour is undertaken the deeper the mental groove becomes, and hence easier to repeat again next time.
Obviously we want to encourage positive physical, emotional, and mental habits and discourage those that limit us or cause us to do destructive things, however any automatic behaviour, whether good or ill, is to a certain extent still limiting our capacity to act with conscious awareness in the moment. But good habits are better than bad ones, and if you can identify and replace a limiting habit of thought, emoting or acting early in 2017, what a great start to the year!
- Jeffrey Hodges B.Sc. M.Sc.(Hons) B.Ed., Director, Sportsmind Institute
It’s 7:42 AM. I have slept in again. I feel tired because I stayed up until 2:30 AM last night working on chipping away at a never-ending task list. I grab whatever clothes comes easiest to hand in my half-awake stake, hastily pull them on, and run into the office, forgetting to have breakfast along the way.
Some of the thoughts that run through my mind as I arrive at the office in an adrenalin-fuelled panic include:
- What do I need to do today?
- Who do I need to talk to?
- What client emailed me last night requesting individual attention?
- Which team members do I need to loop in today for x project?
- How many emails are there in my inbox again? Why can’t I get on top of my inbox? What’s wrong with me?
“Shoot!” I curse at myself. I just checked my calendar and realised that I have a morning meeting in 3 minutes that I haven’t prepared for, and a lunch meeting soon-after that I committed weeks ago. There goes my entire day alongside any hope of being productive with “my time”.
Oh, wait! There are also teammates that need to run ideas and proposals by me, and emergency fires that have popped up out of nowhere that all scream for my attention. My business partners are impatient and grumpy about some issue or other and they need a sounding board, someone to offload to or to escalate a task delivery time.
Before I know it, it’s 7 PM and I have yet to have lunch. I’m starving and the chocolate sitting on the Junior Developer’s desk entices me with its demonic allure. “Something is better than nothing…” I think to myself as I hastily devour it to satiate the hunger. Bye-bye eating healthy and well.
I feel like I’ve been at everyone else’s beck and call all day that I haven’t had the chance to look at one single thing on my task list. So to rectify this I stay late at the office when everyone else is gone, but all I can do is stare at the computer screen as my hand sits lifelessly on top of my mouse. I realise that I am physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and have 1% of battery life left in me. It’s times like this that I wish I could instantly transport into my bed because the thought of finding my way back home abhors me.
Does this sound familiar to you too?
When I reflect on what my life was like a few years ago, words and phrases that spring to my mind include “stress”, “anxiety”, “struggling-to-stay-afloat”, “drowning”, and “overwhelmed”. I’d tell myself that I couldn’t afford to be weak and that I needed to hold it together. So I would put on a happy face, and I’d muster what energy I could to keep pushing. Unfortunately, the constancy of this mode cumulated in a few things: Burning out, exhaustion, anxiety attacks, and finally sitting across the lunch table from one of my business partners–after the 3rd doctor appointment that week to try to find out what’s wrong with me (tip: exhaustion)–and verbalising, “I’m not doing too well. I’m tired.”
I should have known that I was burning out and barely holding it together. After all, I was spending my evenings sitting for 3–4 hours in my bedroom in front of the heater during Melbourne winters, doing nothing but staring into space. Or that it wasn’t normal that I would be rational and calm during an end-of-day debrief with an overseas teammate yet have my face wet with tears, or that both my hands would shake when I tried to explain with my closest confidants what I was going through.
Today, that feeling of being rushed, anxious, and stressed is now replaced by a sense of flow. I wake up earlier (5:30 AM), my pace of work is less frantic, and oddly enough, I’m the most productive I have ever been in my life. The franticness has been replaced with a calmness, and the stress has been replaced with a stillness. I feel even-keel in my approach, and I walk into the office knowing exactly what needs to be done every day, every week and every month. It’s a feeling that is both incredible and powerful.
So what’s the secret? The truth is that there is no real big complicated secret. I take simple tools and apply them over and over and over again. And the best part is that anyone can do it. So get your pen and papers out because I will be sharing with everyone something that completely turned my life around, and a tool that had a profound impact on my life.