As we start the new year, it’s an incredibly pertinent time to stop and pause for once.

To reflect on the year that’s been and to imagine and plan for the year that’s coming.

While it’s natural to focus on the goals you’re setting for 2019, what is equally, if not more important is deciding on the habits you are going to ingrain into your life this year.

Ultimately we make our habits and then our habits make us.

You see, every area of your life is a direct reflection of the habits you’ve developed in that area of your life.

How loving and connected your relationship is, is a direct result of the habits that you and your partner have developed with each other.

Your fitness is a direct reflection of your eating and training habits.

Your business and your financial life is a direct result of the habits you’ve developed in your professional and financial life.

So today, as opposed to focusing on goal-setting, let’s talk about habit-setting.

Let me share with you the 5 habits and rituals I have adopted in my life to optimise my performance.

Ritual 1 – Pursue Discomfort

We’ve been sold a lie that we should pursue comfort.

That we should seek a life where we can sleep in. That we should live in the most comfortable houses while somebody else feeds us grapes…

But let me tell you something. The person getting fed grapes? They’re actually depressed.
The wealthiest and technically ‘most comfortable’ people in the world are often no happier than people earning an average sized salary.

Why? Because happiness and fulfillment as a human being come from pursuing something meaningful. Challenging yourself. Progressing. Getting outside your comfort zone and overcoming adversity along the way.

It’s uncomfortable to get up at 5:00 am. It’s uncomfortable to train really hard. It’s uncomfortable to eat healthily when everybody else is eating pizza. It’s uncomfortable to drink water when everybody else is drinking wine. It’s uncomfortable to stay up until midnight working on your business while everyone else is watching Netflix.

But pursuing this discomfort means that you put yourself in positions that allow you to move through life in such a way that is conducive to growing into the highest and best version of yourself.

Ritual 2 – Waking up at 5.00am

You have the same amount of time as Oprah Winfrey, as Richard Branson, as Elon Musk…

Even though we all have the same amount of time in the day, it’s those who optimise their time the most effectively who enjoy the most progress.

We only need about 7 hours of sleep each night. In fact, if you’re getting more than that you’re probably sleeping too much.

So my challenge for 2019? Go to bed at the same time every night, and wake up at 5 am.

I started doing this about 18 months ago and it has been one of the most powerful habits I’ve ever adopted in my life.

Getting up at 5.00am means I have time to meditate, to train, to eat well, to invest additional hours into education, or start my workday distraction-free with a greater sense of mental clarity.

By the time my work day ‘officially’ starts I feel a sense of accomplishment that sets me up to be more effective than I would have been if I rushed into work half asleep at 9.00am with a flat white in hand.

Ritual Three – Train your body and fuel it well

A personal development journey or a journey of expanding your consciousness is about far more than simply training your mind. You need to also focus on your body.

In fact, our whole bodies are a mind – this has been scientifically proven. Serotonin, which is the chemical that’s associated with happiness is produced in our gut. Memory is stored right throughout the body.

So if your focus is personal development this year, you need to look beyond just reading and meditating, but instead focus on optimising your body as a whole through health and fitness.

Ritual 4 – Turn the distractions off. Engage in deep work

Our culture today is obsessed with distraction. We’re addicted to it. Our phones start vibrating and we drop what we are doing to reply to whoever has emailed or texted us – no matter how inconsequential it might be.

This is a highly determinantal habit to let yourself fall into. How effective we are is massively influenced by the amount of time we can focus on the task at hand – without distraction.

Engaging in deep work means be more deliberate and conscious about how you’re dedicating your time and what you’re dedicating it to.

Think about it like this…

Every time you reach over to answer a text or to check who commented on your recent Instagram post, you are putting their agenda ahead of yours.

If I let myself be dedicated by my inbox, I would essentially be saying the work I had planned to empower my team to do their lives best work, to serve our customers and our members in such a way that they’re absolutely wowed and to achieve incredible commercial results in the business, is actually less important than the person who has just emailed me.

Do yourself a favour this year and get into the habit of setting your phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ and turn off your email notifications so you can get lost in the work that actually matters.

Ritual 5 – Schedule rest and optimise your downtime

If you’re doing something that you absolutely love, it can become all-consuming. And while it’s awesome it can often lead you to compromise your downtime. But regardless of who you are and what you do, you still need to pause.

Make it a habit to schedule your downtime. Schedule your days off, your weekends away and your holidays. And then fight for it. You need to get to a point where you value your downtime as much as you value your up time.

It took me about seven years of being in business to realise this. Back in 2011, I started to realise that I was becoming far less effective. I’d been running startup hybrid businesses for about seven years and I was absolutely exhausted.

I realised it was because I was never switching off. So I started going to the Blue Mountains without fail every quarter for three or four days by myself. I wouldn’t take the computer. I would take my phone but it would be off all day. I’d turn it on once in case of emergency.

Those periods would become the most productive three or four days in my entire calendar. Although technically I wasn’t doing anything, the truth is, I was doing everything.

I was reflecting on who I was. I was reflecting on how I was performing. I was thinking about what I wanted to create. I was dreaming about the future. I was planning, for what I wanted to do and who I wanted to become. That’s the most effective work you can do.

Let me know in the comments below, what’s the number one ritual or habit you’re going to employ in 2019?