Recently I found myself reminiscing about the good old days.
Not necessarily in the traditional sense, but rather a 22 year old looking back on his 21 1/2-year-old self.
It felt as though I was suffering through a period of confusion, in which there seemed to have been a shift and things just didn’t feel right anymore.
But regardless of how much I contemplated what could have changed, there was nothing specific to point to. I still live in the same city, work at the same company, and have the same friends. The large aspects of my days remained almost identical.
The feeling remained present for weeks — I was wasting time and living at 50% of capacity. My energy was no longer at its previous level, my relationships suffered, and my enthusiasm for my work and hobbies had hit an all-time low.
I recall one specific day a few weeks ago when my morning began in a very normal fashion. I woke up, prepared for the day, and left for the subway.
The first trip was flawless. Though once attempting my last transfer of the journey, the MTA gods decided to spite me.
I opted to walk the remaining few blocks and accepted the tardiness that would now be inevitable.
Usually, this type of thing would irritate me, however, it set up a great morning. My productivity heightened, I felt more clear-minded at 9 am than I had in weeks.
But was it just the walk, such a trivial part of my day, that led to this?
It was then that it clicked. I had walked the same journey every day before the winter — when I had experienced a few especially bitter days that pushed me to favor the metal tube.
I hadn’t even considered this to impact my day at all. I knew that walking positively impacted productivity, but not to this degree.
I now ask myself at least once a week, “what trivial actions and habits deliver significant results?”
This path of questioning has helped me recognize many other specific choices that greatly impact my day. Specifically, waking up 20 minutes earlier, sitting in the sauna for as short as 15–20 minutes, choosing tea over coffee, and lowering artificial lights before sleeping.
The increase in energy that these small choices bring is exponential, but they are often so small that they are easily passed over.
But, we can use this to our advantage as developing them into a consistent habit is often simple and requires little effort. Over time they may even become fully automatic.
Start by tracking your energy levels throughout your days for a week. Then, retrace your steps once you highlight the times when you felt your best, and, perhaps more importantly, your worst.
It is important to note that nothing is too trivial, and you will need to test some assumptions; but with some effort, the patterns will arise and things will begin to click.
You’ll be kicking yourself once you realize how significant these small changes can be, and how long you have suffered unnecessarily.
What simple choices could you leverage to create a better day, and life, for yourself?