The Secret to Managing Time is Managing Energy

If you’re like me, it can feel like we’ve got 25 hours of things to do every day! To help solve this, many people think that ‘skipping lunch’ is an excellent time management strategy. “Look!” they say proudly to themselves. “I’ve added an extra hour to my day!” Unfortunately, by denying yourself a structured pit-stop that allows you to refresh yourself physically and mentally, you keep running the day’s race on an empty tank.

Consider this: when we are tired, we slow down, and it takes us longer to accomplish a task. It’s obvious to us that when we take a break and recharge, we come back to our work energized and we are able to accomplish more with less time. If you can increase your energy, you will be able to live 30 hours in the space of 24, and everyone around you will wonder how you accomplish so much in the same time that they have!

When you examine the work schedule of high-performing athletes, we realize that they perform at a high level for a focused period of several months, and then they take a massive break between seasons. Focused effort, focused renewal. Most of us working a 9-5 schedule take 10 days vacation, work on our homes over the weekend, and rarely take a focused break to renew ourselves. No wonder we feel tired!

So, what can we do to renew ourselves? The usual suspects are taking care of our body through proper rest, nutrition and exercise. These are obvious, and we only have a few moments together. The internet is a treasure-trove of good information on exercise, sleep and nutrition tips. So I will share with you the FINAL tip for increasing your physical energy that almost NEVER gets mentioned.

If you want to experience an abundance of physical energy, get mentally excited about your life.

If you doubt this, simply watch any young child on Christmas morning. At 4:30am, their eyes snap open and they leap out of bed excitedly to discover what presents await under the tree. They’ve only slept for 90 minutes, but that doesn’t matter, because they are EXCITED! The same thing happens for adults as they get ready to head off for a luxury vacation. The last few days of work are so productive because we are so energized by our excitement!

My challenge to you is this: seek out, identify, and pursue something in your life that you are truly excited about. Maybe it is an entrepreneurial venture. Maybe it is going on an adventure of a lifetime. Maybe it is volunteering for a charity like Habitat for Humanity, or even starting one of your own. Maybe it’s beginning a life’s work like writing a book. Whatever it is, if you can get excited about your life, you’ll have all the physical energy you need!

Checking Off Your Bucket List

Every year, I set out a list of goals for every area of my life, including adventure. This summer, I had the grand pleasure of checking a lifetime goal off of my “life list”. As a certified adrenaline junkie, I’ve climbed mountains and gone white-water rafting, but I had not yet enjoyed the ultimate rush: skydiving!

My friends and I went to the Parachute School of Toronto, opted to jump tandem (where you are strapped to an experienced skydiver) and suited up. By lunchtime, we were airborne and heading up to 13,500 feet. We were far above the clouds, over 4 kilometers up, and we could see the large square outlines of the farmers fields far below. When it came my turn to jump, I’ll have to admit that I’m glad I was strapped to someone experienced… there was no time for hesitation!

Just imagine yourself stepping off of the edge of an airplane into open air with the Earth four kilometers below. If you’ve ever been nervous jumping off of a diving tower into a pool, imagine magnifying the experience a thousand-fold. The first 5 seconds are terrifying: your heart jumps into your throat as you begin freefall. But once you reach full speed, you have no sensation of falling, except for the rushing wind. You plummet towards the Earth at 200km/hr for almost a full minute! It was like being in a convertible with the top down going full speed. We passed right through a cloud, with grey mist surrounding us in all directions. My guide yanked the ripcord, and floated gently to Earth a few minutes later. When we landed, I couldn’t wait to go again! It was like the ultimate roller coaster.

I share this experience because it was at the top of my “life list”. The idea of creating a list of lifetime goals has recently been popularized in a wonderful movie called “The Bucket List”, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. In the movie, two old retirees decide to write a list of everything they want to do in life before they “kick the bucket”. It is a wonderful story, and they conclude their remaining years with deep adventure and reconciliation of relationships.

I share these examples because I believe that each of us has a list inside of us waiting to be accomplished. What is on YOUR list? Is it to travel to Australia? To fly a fighter jet? To climb Mt Kilimanjaro? To write a book? To build a summer camp for disadvantaged kids? I believe that if we allow ourselves to dream, we would admit that we want many great things from our lives.

The movie “The Bucket List” highlights the one grave mistake that most people make: the majority of people believe that the greatest accomplishments in life should be left for “someday”. Personally, I don’t want to leave everything I want to do in life till old age, because I have NO IDEA when I’m going to pass away. I might have a car accident on the way home tonight. Our time is precious and uncertain. As the ancient Roman philosopher Horace said, “Carpe diem! Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have. It is later than you think.” Don’t wait forever to live your life; decide to check something off of your bucket list every year.

Your Whole Life is “TODAY”!

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I frequently meet people who struggle with accomplishing goals in their lives, and yet they always begin by saying “Tomorrow I will start”. Sadly, these people squander the precious, irreplaceable moments of their lives away, playing the “tomorrow” game. Maybe you’ve heard them speak about how they will change their lives when they say:

-“I’m going to start exercising… tomorrow.”
-“I’m going to start saving for retirement… tomorrow.”
-“I’m going to read that personal development book… tomorrow.”
-“I’m going to make amends with a friend or loved one… tomorrow.”
-“I’m going to volunteer with that charity… tomorrow.”

Playing the “Tomorrow” game is like chasing the horizon; no matter how fast you ruin, you can never catch it. In fact, you will NEVER reach tomorrow, because when you wake up in the morning, you have re-named “tomorrow”… And now it is called “today”.

Dale Carnegie says “One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today… Today is life – the only life you are sure of. Make the most of today. Get interested in something. Shake yourself awake. Develop a hobby. Let the winds of enthusiasm sweep through you. Live today with gusto.”

Tomorrow’s victory is preceded by today’s victory over ourselves. Jim Clemmer says that “life accumulates”. Every small decision we make today compounds to create our future reality.

If you want exceptional health tomorrow, choose today to eat an apple rather than a candy bar. Choose today to take the stairs rather than the escalator. If you want an exceptional marriage tomorrow, choose today to write a small note of thanks to your spouse and leave it on their pillow. Greet them with a kiss when they walk through the door. If you want exceptional savings, choose today to say “no” to that $3 coffee and put those extra coins in a jar. Put your hand up at work and volunteer to lead that new initiative. If you want exceptional success, choose to wake when the alarm clock goes off and read 15 minutes from an inspirational book.

My challenge to you is to take action TODAY. When inspiration strikes, make the resolution to start saying “I’ll do it NOW.” Decide which area of your life could benefit the most from improvement. What one small action could you take today to move in the direction of success? I invite you to email me directly at cj@cjcalvert.com with your new daily resolution. I promise to respond to you today!

Clear your mind, harness your strength, attract prosperity, and nurture your relationships… today. Magically, the small victories you enjoy during each today will build upon one another, until one day you will wake from sleep and discover you’ve created the life of your dreams, and you are living it… today.

Character is Who You Are When No One Else Is Looking

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Some might say that it’s easy to be on stage and perform well, particularly if you are motivated (as I am) by public accountability. If you’re like me, it’s important to be true to your word, to be the very best you can be, and be a living example of the ideals you espouse. When all of the world is a stage, we tend to be on our best behavior.

But what happens when the cameras are off and the audience goes home? Thomas Macaulay, an American essayist and historian, said “The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out.” A good litmus test is to ask yourself, whatever you are doing right now, whether you would want your family to read on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow.

When preparing for my last bodybuilding competition, I resolved that I would remove Iced Tea from my diet, as it had too much sugar and invisible carbs. In fact, I laid out a personal challenge, and over dinner shared this “dare” with my good friends: if I drank any iced tea (my favorite drink at the time) for the next few months leading up to the competition, I would have to treat the group to $250 collectively. They were thrilled!

That week, my wife and I were on a date at the movies, and she asked what snack I wanted at the concession stand. Reflexively, I answered “Iced tea, of course!” I had temporarily forgotten about my commitment to my friends. The following day, my wife and I were leaving for a drive to see some friends and, stopping at a convenience store, I asked her what she wanted to drink for the road. As I was getting out of the car, I turned suddenly to her and said “Oh my goodness! I was about to walk into the store and buy an Iced Tea, without thinking! I would have reneged on my promise to my friends, and I would have had to pay them $250! Wow, that was close!”

My wife said “You had an iced tea at the movies last night!” I stared in silence. “What?” I asked incredulously. “Last night at the movies,” she said again. “But it doesn’t matter; just start the contest today.” I felt my heart sink into my guts. I said softly “Sweetheart, I can’t reset the start time of the contest.”

She rolled her eyes. “Come on, NO ONE WILL KNOW!”
I replied “I will know.”

Needless to say, I paid my friends the $250. They were thrilled! I might have lost $250 cash, but I won the bigger prize of knowing I did the right thing, especially since no one else would have known. I believe it’s important to keep our word in small matters, because it toughens us up and prepares us for the really big tests when they come. The next time your integrity is tested, and no one else would know, make it a point of pride to admit your mistake. The credibility you will build in your eyes and in the eyes of others will astound you.

Want Your Dream Job? Start With The One You’ve Got!

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A lot of self-improvement authors will encourage you to “pursue the career of your dreams” by identifying your core values, developing a mission statement and pursuing your deepest passions. “If you follow your heart,” they say, “surely the money will come.” These are beliefs that I agree with and live my life by, but I would also add: Along the road to your “dream” career, you’ve got to enjoy the job you’re at. In fact, your attitude and commitment to excellence at a job that’s “just paying the bills” may be the doorway to a future career that fulfills your deepest passions.

Excellence gets noticed, whether it’s staying late to finish serving a customer, answering the phones with an indefatigable smile or calling a client to ensure they were satisfied with the service you provided. Your paycheck and career-path will improve when your current performance does, and your cheerful enthusiasm to exceed expectations will separate you from the competition sitting in the cubicle next to you. Champions don’t wait for someone else to hold the “opportunity” door open for them; they buy the building and hire a doorman.

Want a position of leadership and control, but the org chart shows that you’re at the bottom of the totem pole? You have to act like a leader before you can wear the title. Become the biggest proponent of the hot new management trend, the latest software or simply perform at a higher level.
Want to enjoy work more? Share a joke, learn to smile and choose to be grateful for having the work you’ve got.

Want to meet your core values of teaching and contribution, but it’s not part of your job description? Let your colleagues know that you’re conducting a seminar next week on a subject that you are passionate about and share your wisdom. And if people aren’t noticing the extra value you’re adding, always remember it’s up to you to mention it to them. Just because your job title does not say “Sales” doesn’t mean that you aren’t selling… and the hot commodity that you are promoting is the corporation of YOU, Inc.

You see, the key to having a career you love is doing the best where you are, right now, with what you’ve got. You don’t need to have a great job experience handed to you; you always have the power to turn a good job into an exceptional one by shaping your career according to your highest values and passions. And who knows? You might just wake up one morning and discover that you’re driving to the job you always dreamed of.

A Commitment to Excellence

I believe that the exceptional life is one that could be summarized in only a few words. If you say “Wayne Gretsky”, I think “hockey”. If you say “Steven Spielberg”, I say “movies”. If you say “Donald Trump”, I think “real estate”. Without hesitation, we could clearly articulate the masterwork of their lives, and we would only require one or two words to do it.
If you don’t yet have a single word or phrase that offers this same type of summary of your life’s work, please allow me to suggest one. If you want an exceptional life, a committed and passionate marriage, achieving and well-adjusted kids, physical vitality and rock-solid finances, I’d like to advocate this one word to live by as your creed. One descriptive word that is the autograph you place on every piece of work that you do, every handshake you offer, every promise you keep. I suggest you live your life… with excellence.
Henry Ward Beecher said “Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anyone else expects of you.” How will you manifest excellence in your life? By becoming obsessed with deliver the very best level of service into the lives that you touch. Remove the statements “not bad”, “pretty good”, and “close enough” from your vocabulary. Treat them as the most corrosive poison imaginable. Don’t ask “What is the bare minimum required of me? What can I do to get by?” Ask instead “What can I do that will amaze my clients? What can I do to render my spouse speechless with love and appreciation? What can I do to make myself burst with pride over the work I’ve completed?
When you answer the phone, put the biggest smile on your face and fill your voice with passion! When you prepare for a presentation, jump on the Internet one last time to search for the perfect anecdote to tie your thoughts together brilliantly! When you comfort your child, see the world through their eyes and give thanks for the gift of their life! Do everything with excellence. Pay your bills with excellence. Shine your shoes with excellence.
To nurture excellence in our spirit, we must seek out those leaders whose code of conduct is so pure, whose resolve is so unyielding, who courage under fire is so unshakable, that they provided an instant measuring stick in our hearts and minds to compare ourselves to. When faced with a leadership challenge, ask yourself “What would Abraham Lincoln do?” When faced with a question of faith or compassion, ask yourself “What would Mother Theresa do?” When faced with a situation of overcoming illness or impossible odds, ask yourself “What would Terry Fox, Lance Armstrong, or Rick Hanson do?” What would my greatest hero do in this exact moment? Do it. Do it now. And if people only describe you in a few words, let them describe you as someone who is passionately committed… to excellence.