The Fit Student – Zero in on that One Thing

Studying demands we zone in on our priorities, whether that is getting A’s or living as the best parental model possible. With so many distractions in everyday living, our key priorities are often sidetracked, yielding a less than optimal outcome. And what about those New Year’s Resolutions we made this past January? How many resolutions, if any, do we make that come to fruition? What is the secret to making our key goals and priorities realities? Gary Keller, in his book, The One Thing, reveals some outstanding insights in how to zero in on that one thing.

But, first, I must provide a little disclaimer. This book came purchased for me by a kindly stranger. Noting my fascination with the book, he surprised me and my partner with a fully paid copy. Serendipity led me to this content, which I now reveal to you, topped off with ample karma from a benevolent gentleperson.

Form Positive Habits
Habits breathe life into goal accomplishments. If I could slot my every task into a timeframe, and repeat it day in and day out, I would revel in such a system. My personality loves deadlines, detailed schedules, and mapped out events well in advance. But, some habits you need to birth, especially habits that will lead you to the frontline at the Olympics running track or to an Honour’s award at Athabasca University.

Keller offers sure-fire advice on how to make a habit commonplace. For one, he exhorts that a habit takes sixty-six days on average to cement. Plus, even more interestingly, one positive habit can cause a chain reaction of multiple other negative habits diminishing, such as stressing, substance abuse, caffeine consumption, television viewing, and so on. Additionally, with each positive habit, other positive habits go on the rise, such as dieting. If you can make one positive change and stick with it for sixty-six days, a multitude of benefits will emerge that you may not have forecast in advance.

The Path to Happiness and Stick-To-It-Ness
Personally, I believe the key to happiness resides in developing a spiritual foundation and choosing positive, non-destructive environments and people, like libraries and physical universities and colleges to dwell in. A sure-fire way to unhappiness equates to venturing into night clubs, pubs, and substance abuse, in my mind, however appealing the marketing may attempt to make these negatives seem.

There is no satiating human desire, according to Keller and many other theorists. Keller believes that, of positive emotion, achievement, relationships, engagement, and meaning, meaning is the most important means to happiness. Without a clear sense of purpose, you never know when you have achieved your truest goals, and you rarely get the opportunity to celebrate the climb of steps toward that one big purpose. Keller believes that sticking out the challenges between you and your goal long enough will most often, ultimately, lead to success.

The Accountability Partner
I particularly loved the idea of finding an accountability partner. I knocked off a large number of New Year’s resolutions, including fitting back into a size six, writing a short ebook, starting a podcast, and finalizing my reading of the entire Christian bible. While that’s not a “one thing” list, it helps demarcate the goals from the frivolity. My approach included creating sticky notes (that are computer generated in Windows 7) and filling them in with the resolutions. Each day, I peer at them, shifting them around from three lists as they fit: (1) waiting to start, (2) started, and (3) finalized.

While this method proved mostly successful, Gary Keller recommends finding an accountability partner will present you with even better potential outcomes. An accountability partner, to sum it up, represents either a coach, mentor, or colleague, but preferably a coach of some sort, who you report to with your progress and who holds you accountable to your periodic goal-setting regime. What struck me as most fascinating about Keller’s book was the quote that said that people who write down goals are 39.5% more likely of achieving them, whereas people who wrote down goals and submitted progress reports to an accountability partner proved 76.7% more likely of goal attainment. Wow! Those stats would convince anyone of the merit of finding an accountability partner.

Your Health is Crucial
Every night before bed I read two pages of the Christian Bible (currently on my second round through) and read two to six pages of a second spirituality (currently Hinduism) that I aim to study in depth for a period of five years. Once that five year time frame finalizes, I then move onto the next spirituality (which will be the doctrines of Sikhism or the Koran) at the same time I continue reading and rereading the Christian Bible. I don’t know about others, but the spirituality really grounds me, really brings out the positive spirit in my soul, and really puts me to sleep with a peaceful, content mindset. I often meditate daily for at least ten minutes, too, sometimes yielding an hour of meditation in order to counter accumulated stress.

Keller outlines his routine for staying healthy–an essential component of high productivity. He first meditates and prays early on in the day, following this with a nutritious breakfast, and then engages in exercise. By performing such a routine early in the day, one’s spiritual, and physical energy heightens, making the rest of the day that much more manageable. When it comes to exercise, eating well, and spirituality, you can’t short yourself of these soul and body nutrients without repercussion. So, enjoy the fruits of your “you” time, and fill your lungs with oxygen, your mind with peace and goodwill, and your body with health and nutrition.