Have you ever heard the phrase “Rome wasn’t built in a day?”
Unless you don’t get out much, the answer is probably yes. Whenever people begin a daunting task or hit a pivotal juncture, someone will usually whip this phrase out. Despite how frequently this idiom is mentioned, consider how few people truly abide by its principle.
Simply put, it means that great things take time.
Is this easier said than done? We live in an age of instant gratification and immediate feedback. An era when you can quit a video game if you don’t like the outcome or swipe left if you don’t want to go on a date with someone. With all the shortcuts at our disposal, it’s easy to see how people become easily frustrated when things don’t go their way. The truth is, even in contemporary times this phrase holds true–we just need to grasp the magnitude of the expression.
Lay the foundation today and build upon it, brick-by-brick.
To further illustrate this point we need to go back to ancient Rome. In its early days, Rome started out as an insignificant little village. Eventually, it took control of modern Italy. By the time of the Roman Empire, it spanned over 3 continents and most of the known world. Although this didn’t happen overnight, consistent expansion led Rome to become one of the greatest empires ever in existence. We need to follow Rome’s lead in our daily lives.
Break Down Your Life Into Categories
Do you ever feel like you’re trying to do too much? Not enough?
This can be overwhelming mentally and physically. Regardless of what end of the spectrum you fall on, life is more manageable when things are broken down.
On a daily basis, it is helpful to break life into 4 distinct categories. If you have goals for these already, great. If not, don’t let that deter you from working towards something. Consider what you want to accomplish in each component of life. From there, create a daily minimum for each category so that you’re always striving to be better.
Health is perhaps the most important component in daily life. Without proper health conditions, the other categories are harder to maintain. In order to take care of your health, consider finding something you can do daily to stay (or become) healthy. For instance, you can take time each day to research and prepare healthy meals. You could also find time to exercise–this comes with obvious benefits.
Wealth can mean many things such as a career, business, or investing. Even all 3 at the same time! Depending on your situation, you will have different priorities surrounding this topic, but you should not ignore this part of life. Instead, figure out where you want to be financially and make a plan to execute. Each day, try to focus on something that will get you towards your wealth goal. It can be as simple as creating a budget, or as elaborate as designing a comprehensive investing strategy. One action might not put you in a new wealth category, but taking one step forward consistently to build upon previous actions pays huge dividends.
This category requires a bit less explanation. Love can be defined as towards yourself, towards others, or both.
It’s easy to see how people can get caught up in life and consumed by daily drudgeries. Over time this leads to exhaustion, anxiety, and dissatisfaction. That’s why it’s quite important to be conscious of something you want to work on in this category. If you have a significant other, set aside time each day to do something enjoyable together. Perhaps you’re working on yourself, consider journaling to dig deeper. You could also do something as simple as calling a loved on each day. Whatever you choose, do not ignore the love category.
As the title implies, this category of life revolves around things that make you happy. Set aside time (no less than an hour) to do something that makes you happy. Some people find solace going on walks or spending time in nature. Others would rather stay inside painting or another hobby. Choose something that can be a bright spot in your day. It will give you something to look forward to and even energize you.
Focus on One Thing at a Time
Have you ever tried texting one person while talking to another?
It never turns out well. The same can be said for multitasking on just about anything important in life. To be truly effective, you need to focus on one thing at a time.
With all the responsibilities people face on a regular basis, it might seem tempting to jump around from one task to another. Not only is this ineffective, but it could also be an even bigger time expense. Consider how long it takes you to focus on a given task. Then consider jumping from one to another– you need to reframe the context each time and might end up getting confused or overwhelmed. When working on important tasks such as your daily minimums, you need to be willing to slow down and take life one step at a time.
To ensure that you complete the most important activities, you need to set priorities. Choose 4 or 5 things that you HAVE to do in order to feel accomplished. For example your health, wealth, love, and happiness actions. Then, rank them in order of importance. In doing so, you won’t feel the temptation to rush to get from one to another because you will always be working on the most important task. Each day, your priorities will vary, but by creating a semblance of order, it will be far easier to do one thing at a time.
Spend Time Reflecting
To truly improve and grow on a daily basis, reflection is required.
Throughout history, the most effective people in any capacity are always reflective. Take for instance Edison crafting the incandescent lightbulb. When his designs produced unsatisfactory results, he tried to go back and figure out why. We need to be like scientists when working on ourselves.
A great way to practice reflection is to start and end each day reviewing outcomes. You can do this in your head or you can write it down. Writing tends to be more effective because you can keep an ongoing record of your results, trials, and tribulations over time. Ask yourself questions such as:
- What went well today? How can I replicate these results?
- What challenges did I face? How can I change my actions to get better outcomes in the future?
- Was I able to complete everything I needed to? If not, do I have a plan going into tomorrow?
- Does my routine seem to be working or does it need to be tweaked? How can I make it better?
These are just examples of reflective thinking. Notice that the follow up to each question tends to start with “how” or “why.” In doing so, you force yourself to problem solve and design ways to make things better in the future. Take the time to analyze your day so that the next day can be even better.
We can achieve anything we desire. In order to do so, we must work at it every day. Stick with it long enough and you will find yourself at your goal or even surpassing it. Follow these steps to get better.