Monthly Meditations: February 2019 Issue


Monthly Meditations is a series that I started in order to catalogue my thoughts on various subjects. I write and share these with somewhat of a consistent schedule on LinkedIn. I decided that it would be a good idea to put all of these thoughts into one place. That way, you don’t have to consume more information on social media (hats off to you), and you can catch up in one sitting over a nice cup of coffee. I try to encourage engagement and discussions on these topics, so feel free to comment on LinkedIn, in these monthly entries, or reach out to me personally. Enjoy!

02/11/19 - Move from expectation to appreciation.

Focus on this moment, and doing the task at hand. Appreciate this moment, and be grateful. Years from now, this is what you will miss the most. The reward is in the process, not the medal at the end. We give meaning to life through our actions - we don't take meaning from life.

The only thing you should expect is that you're going to show up everyday and do the work. Expect obstacles. Expect left field. Expect to persevere through it all. Expect to control your effort, because that's all you really can control.

But more importantly is that you appreciate this moment, those around you, and yourself throughout the entire process.

02/13/19 - How long does it take to form a new habit?

This is highly subjective but it probably depends on one's perceived exertion it takes to attempt the new behaviour, as well as the social-environmental nudges and cues that they experience.

Saying it takes 14, 21, 30, or even 60 days, seems fairly arbitrary. Having these expectations can potentially set false hope as we think it’s once at this milestone, we are in the clear. This can take focus off of the process, and shift us into more of a fixed mindset.

These numbers do help us in the fact that they leave some clues. 1) It takes time, and 2) the amount of time is subjective.

Here's what I believe to be an appropriate answer: When it becomes harder to quit the new behaviour, then it’s probably a habit.

However long this takes you, realize that this day will come. Just be stubborn enough to stick through until it happens. Understand that it may take weeks, or months, but by showing up every day no matter what, the snowball rolls and builds momentum. You will get there. Motivation happens through action. Stop thinking, and start doing.

“Habits are the invisible architecture of everyday life.” - Gretchen Rubin

02/15/19 - There's a difference between visceral hunger, and superficial cravings.

Cravings can stem from many areas such as lack of sleep, fatigue, stress, nutrient deficiencies, and poor hydration - in which case you should seek help to get these sorted out.

However, don't let boredom and distraction become another cause. These are superficial cravings, in which we seek the immediate reward and pleasure that food gives to us solely through its taste.

Food is more than an instant treat. It has a deep purpose to nourish our minds, and bodies. It gives us sustained energy, keeps us strong, boosts our mood, and helps us fight off disease.

Taking a moment to slow down and breath as a craving arises can help give you space between the craving and your potential action.

Gently give yourself permission to go through a mental checklist before mindlessly diving in:

"How am I feeling mentally and emotionally?"
“Am I craving this only because others around me are eating it?”
“Will this food truly heal me?”
"Would my future self be proud of this decision?"
"Do I keep the foods I crave around me, even though I know they won't serve my goals?"
“Would my great grandmother recognize this as food?” (Thanks Michael Pollan)

Make your environment work for you, not against you.

02/19/19 - Health is the foundation of self-actualization and a thriving well-being.

If one is overly stressed and anxious about finances, career, family, psycho-spiritual, environmental, cultural, physical, and social aspects, crushing bootcamps and going on deprivation diets is probably not their best means of achieving a vibrant well-being.

Weight loss and aesthetics are one piece of overall well-being, and only to a certain extent. Get the other areas in order the best you can. Lay the foundation.

Bryan Cranston’s advice to young actors applies to everyone: Get your house in order. Your relationships, your health, your personal life: that’s your foundation. If your home life is sane, it allows you to go insane in your work.

02/20/19 - If you make a list of words that defines success, does it look similar to your list for what brings you joy and meaning?

This was a great question posed in Brene Brown’s new book, ‘Dare to Lead.’ Being me, I decided to take this a step further and look a little deeper with this thought experiment:

What are your one month, one year, five year, and 10 year goals? Common enough question.

What would you do if you had one month, one year, five years, or 10 years left to live?

It might be wise to figure out a few answers to each scenario in the second question, and more important still, take action.

“Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.” - Carl Jung

02/22/19 - Sleep is the foundation of optimal health and well-being.

Aim for 8 hours of sleep every night. It must be deep, rejuvenating sleep in which you hit the maximum peaks of the non-rapid eye movement (NREM), and the rapid eye movement (REM) sleep stages.

Going on a calorie-restricted diet while sleeping less than 7-8 hours a night, and/or having disrupted sleep will result in greater loss of lean body mass, rather than fat.

Take sleep away, and your health, performance, well-being, and weight will suffer. Sleep in this sense is less of another “pillar” of health such as diet and exercise are.

Sleep is the foundation that will allow all of your daily behaviours (diet, exercise, thoughts, etc) to flourish.

If you have trouble sleeping, seek help. Your whole-being will thank the small amount of trouble you went through to get help.

“Sleep dispenses a multitude of health ensuring benefits, yours to pick-up in repeat prescription every 24 hours, should you choose.” Matthew Walker, ‘Why We Sleep’

02/25/19 - Wellness initiatives are put into action FOR our people, not TO them.

Do not create wellness initiatives to help employees jump through hoops and check off boxes faster. They aren’t cogs in a machine, or robots needing a regular oil change. They are your team. They are human. They have physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Help for no other reason than because you genuinely care.

Focusing on ROI is about you, whereas VOI is about your people. ROI will naturally take care of itself when the initiative is VOI driven. Focusing purely on statistics will remove the compassion, empathy, and honesty required for a thriving wellness culture.

02/27/19 In anything you do, shift your focus away from time and look towards energy instead.

Energy is immediately in our control. It's flow, deliberate practice, and deep work. It's your attention and your behaviour. Thus it's actionable, and is a more true currency of high performance.

Time is merely the inevitable passing of life, outside of our control. You can invest time into projects, but the inherent value comes from the meaning and energy you put into it.

Success is reserved for those who can work distraction free, for prolonged periods, consumed by the task at hand, stretching their zone of competency.

What get's lost with Ericsson's 10,000 hour rule is the fact that periods of solitude, working deliberately and intensely, was what created masters - not just the time itself.

Schedule the time, and invest your energy.

Thank you for reading my article. I hope you found it helpful or at least thought-provoking. If this post did help you, consider sharing it with someone you think it would help too.