Don't Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste – Personal Edition

Many of us have received a gift.  It's probably not how we see it.  It isn't how we wanted it.  It isn't how we expected to receive it.  It's come at a disruptive, expensive, and stressful cost. 

But it is here, and it is available.  The gift is time.  And, time is the one resource you cannot plant, pick, print, codify, or recycle.  It is here one minute, gone the next, and never returned. 

Perhaps a bit of newfound time has come to you.  The question is, what are you going to do with it?

Within any crisis there are opportunities.  Most disasters don't offer up time as a result.  Ample opportunity exists to use whatever new whitespace we have been given in our lives to get better at something.  To give oneself an edge and to grow in a new way. 

Get 1% Better at Something Everyday
This concept isn't mine, but I have adopted it credit to James Clear from his book – Atomic Habits – a must read). Find some way, each day, to improve ever so slightly in an area.  Over time, the improvements compound into incredible results.

Improvement efforts take a long time to bear fruit.  That's why people ditch resolutions or new strategies in short order. We make the attempt, but visible and meaningful results take time to materialize.  Further, if you try to do too much too soon, it becomes too hard, you get discouraged, and move on.  It's a delicate balance.  Radical shift, at once, does not pay off.

Why Start Now?
For one, our current stay-at-home conditions won't last long.  Second, now is an excellent time because perhaps you didn't start yesterday.

Assess how much time you have.  If it's only fifteen minutes, so be it.   If you find you have more, even better.  Getting better doesn't take much time at once; it requires an investment over time.

For example, this piece is a result of deciding to spend 15 minutes each morning, writing.  It may take four days to get 300 good words, but that's 300 words that would not have materialized otherwise.  That may turn into an article a week, four a month, and 48 a year.  Zero to 48, in 15 minutes a day. 

Twenty-five pushups a day turns into 750 a month, which turns into 9,000 a year.  Five extra sales activities a day is 20 in a week, 80 a month, and nearly 1,000 over the course of a year.  With even a half-way decent success rate, that will meaningfully change any sales professional's year.

How to Start?
Pick an area in your life you would like to improve. Health, finances, professional or personal development, relationships, recreation are all great areas.

Then, follow a drill-down sequence like the following example: 

  • What would becoming healthier look like?  Your answer might be losing weight or getting in shape.  Great start. 
  • What would getting in shape require?  Your answer might be working out or moving every day.  
  • What would moving everyday look like?  Your answer may be to take a daily walk.
  • Define and commit to a specific action.  I will walk for 20 minutes a day.

The last step is to pick a simple, specific way to take action.  Many of us make the mistake of overshooting at this stage ("I'm going to go to the gym every day", or "I'm going to start running 3 miles a day starting tomorrow).   Going from 0 to 65 mph is a surefire way to burnout.

Rather than overshooting, think incremental. 
What small action can you begin tomorrow, that is easy, doesn't take long, yet starts you on your path?

In our example above, a great place to start is something fundamental - such as - I will take a short walk each day. 

Attempt to identify a simple, easy to start immediately, small step – a 1% improvement – in a meaningful area.  Then, with your newfound time, put it into action. 

Focus on creating a simple, new positive habit, that when executed, begins you on a 1% better journey to a new outcome or identity – being healthy.  Over time, the small investments in your health stack up, create momentum, and over time, help to create a new identity – a healthier you and someone who walks every day – a walker!

A Challenge
Whether you find yourself with extra time - or not - and want to make sure you are in a better spot personally or professionally, sit down and map out 1% better everyday opportunity for yourself. 

I think you will find the challenge fun and will lift morale and focus.  Make the most of this rare gift of time.  Come out the other end a better, more improved YOU in whatever area it is you choose to focus.

I know I am sure loving it.