How to adopt the habit of continuous improvement


Over the past four years of coaching my students into optimal daily routines I’ve become somewhat obsessed with how to instigate positive changes. I’ve worked to learn every habit hack and behavioral change tactic that I can get my hands on to support people in finally doing the thing they haven’t been able to do before — whether that be to sleep through the night, lose the weight, resolve the digestive issues, experience less day-to-day stress and anxiety, or simply to have a more compassionate relationship with themselves.

I believe so many of us are living beneath our potential and settling for a life of mediocrity. We’ve learned to dismiss our desires and disregard our needs for the fear of being selfish, unrealistic or even ridiculous. We’ve become so accustomed to following cultural norms that we can’t hear the quiet voice inside of us begging to be heard. The one quietly whispering our dreams that are yearning to be realized.

Realizing this, I’ve made it a priority to surround myself with people who want to break free from whatever is holding them back — be that the internal limiting beliefs or the external expectations. This community creates the constant reminder that anything is possible if you keep showing up.

How do you keep showing up? Constant evolution can be exhausting!

I subscribe to the philosophy that we should always be learning and always be up-leveling. According to Tony Robbins growth is one of six core needs along with certainty, variety/uncertainty, significance, love, and contribution. Growth, while challenging is deeply fulfilling. Progress is the best motivator.

However, in order to grow we need to push ourselves, try new things and seek out new opportunities — all which stress our nervous system and can provoke anxiety — even in the steadiest among us.

Stress isn’t bad for you

Constant stress is taxing and unhealthy but stress itself isn’t all bad. The key is pulsating between high stress and high rest periods — the bigger the discrepancy between the two, the better.

I recently experienced this after taking a two-week vacation. I knew that I had been working hard and pushing myself with only minimal rest time (I have a firm personal boundary around not working past 4pm — aside from 1–2 coaching meetings per week). I was doing something work related every day of the week and not giving myself complete breakout time to completely “recover”. When the opportunity to go to Jamaica on my own for 8 days came — I knew it was just what I needed. I needed to put myself in an environment completely removed from my regular life to interrupt the pattern and forge a new one.

It worked. Since returning a month ago, I’ve adapted my schedule to include more rest and play time.

Balance stress and rest

Incorporating deep rest and time off is key to working smarter, not harder. Placing yourself in high rest/play/recovery environments is when you gain perspective and get the insights that you wouldn’t have had access to had you kept your nose to the grinding stone. While I knew this in theory, I wasn’t putting it into practice.

However, as my personal goals and dreams continue to expand, I knew that I had to take drastic measures to instigate new behaviors. The lesson here — put yourself in environments that promote high stress AND high recovery. Play your edge, stretch yourself, but also go equally to the other side of the spectrum — unplug, recharge, do something that feeds you and makes you feel alive.

Power of the posse

Another key ingredient to staying on the path to growth is to surround yourself with people who are growing right alongside you. We are social creatures who are lightly influenced by each other’sbehaviors. If you hang out with people stuck in status quo — you’ll be more likely to as well.

The great thing about being part of an intentional community of people committed to the growth path is that they rub off on you. Their successes inspire you to become better. There’s a momentum that’s created that carries you forward and ignites your own motivation.

Save time by finding a guide

Finally, we need to be perpetual students. Growth requires learning new tools and trying on new perspectives and ideas. Developing new skills can be daunting and often overwhelming. We often know the end result we want but haven’t got the faintest clue what steps we need to take to get there.

Find an expert and learn from them. Read their books, take their courses,and let them guide you. Don’t waste time trying to figure it out on your own unless you are ok with it taking a very long time. Life is short, save yourself years and many mistakes along the way by putting yourself in the way of a teacher who has streamlined the process for you.

To summarize…

To live a deeply enriching and fulfilling life you need to always be growing. Develop the habit of continuous improvement by oscillating between periods of high stress where you challenge yourself and periods of high rest — where you completely unplug and have fun. Secondly, join a community of people who inspire you and keep you motivated. Lastly, get a guide. Find a mentor, teacher or coach who knows what they’re talking about (if they have the results you want — they know a thing or two about how to help you get there).

Final words…

Growth is worth the effort. Don’t settle. Tap into that unlimited well of potential inside of you. Your dreams are yearning to be realized.

Dana SkoglundComment