Become more efficient

(An excerpt from my book, "LEAD") 

    I've written before about my deep hatred for New Year's resolutions. I hate them because I've never seen the need for the date on the calendar to change to start what we were supposed to already be doing! I do, however, understand how deciding to turn a new page can do wonders for our attitudes. As much as I despise resolutions, I love the atmosphere of a new beginning. Every January you can almost smell it in the air; people getting ready to change how they do things. Now that, I can get on board with. If there is one thing I have learned, it's this: successful people have good habits. They do things on a normal, constant basis, that not only cause them to progress towards their goals, but also to progress as people. So, whenever you read this whether it's at the beginning of the year, or in June, or December, don't wait for a new year to begin to start habits that will start to develop you. Here are 5 habits that I push myself to stick with, regardless of the time of year:


Planning is like doing your homework: No one wants to do it but, if you do, you'll do better on the test. In this case, the test being your work, your family, and your overall productivity. You will do better if you become a good planner. Think forward about what you want to accomplish throughout the week, rather than just letting it fly by. Block out time for things that are truly important and -I can't say this enough- get an agenda. Although at first it may seem restricting, thinking about things beforehand and planning them out actually frees your mind to create, envision and dream. It also saves you so much time when you don't always have to go back and forth to do things you forgot to do, didn't foresee, and now have to bend over backwards to solve.


Take some time every day to think. Yes, this is serious. Not enough people, especially young people, take time to analyze their lives or their situations. Set time apart to think: What are the things I should be doing that I am not? Do I love what I do? Do I love how I'm doing it? Should I change course? If I continue on this path will I end up where I want to be? It takes thought to be intentional about life, and it takes being intentional to lead.


Force yourself to learn something new daily. Develop the habit of dedicating time to your own growth, even if it's just 20 minutes a day. If there is anything worth doing, it's worth doing right. So, be the best at it. Stephen Covey calls it "sharpening the saw." Take time to invest in the assets that make you, you. Focus on making your strengths, even stronger. If you have a talent, practice and use it. If you have an inclination, learn about it and grow in it.

So many people will lose their chance to be great at something because they were satisfied with being good.

I believe every leader needs a concrete growth plan. What are the things you are going to do each day to expand your skill-set? It’s not enough to let time pass by and expect growth to come on its own. People do not get better at anything by remaining idle. In leadership, there are countless skills to develop and it will take an investment of time to be able to do so. Map out a strategy. For me, some facets of my plan include reading one book on leadership a month, one leadership podcast a day, and at least 2 conferences a year. This keeps me constantly developing, growing, and learning. Because I also want to grow spiritually, I dedicate at least 20 minutes a day to studying the bible using a devotional or commentary that will give me greater understanding of what I’m reading. 


If something isn't working cut it out of your life. If you're serious about your dreams, distraction and waste should be two things you despise. You probably have all the energy and time you need to accomplish your goals but may be spending them on the wrong things. Make a habit out of prioritizing as you plan -the two go hand-in-hand- and get to the more important things first. I once spent a week writing down everything I did (everything) and I looked back to see what I spent my time on and asking myself whether or not it was worth it. I loved it so much that I do this mental exercise every once in a while. I you can't find time for something important, look again there may be something you can cut taking up that time.


Decide to be a person who acts rather than simply reacts. The ability to initiate separates leaders from followers. It's incredible what can be accomplished by someone who chooses to be proactive about their dreams. Rather than accepting misfortune or disappointment actively seek out the tools, people, or situations you need to accomplish your goal. We all love movies where a hero or heroine with a huge disability find a way to win a gold medal or a Nobel Prize against all odds but, we don't realize how often we let our own "disabilities" or, sometimes, simple procrastination stop us. Make a habit out of acting every day. Do something to inch towards your dream, and start on new ideas as soon as you get them. 

If you like this article, you might like the rest of my book, "Lead" - 10 lessons I learned from leading in my 20s! Visit the store for more info!

Vanessa GraciaComment