strategic vs reactive 1024x683 - Strategic vs Reactive: Your key to making daily improvements

In my opinion this is probably one of the biggest differentiators between world class athletes and performers and the average Joe.

As a working parent with two young kids it’s very easy to get pulled into reactive mode.

Whether it’s a screaming toddler waking you up in the early hours of the morning for a wee or to find their misplaced teddy bear. Or starting the day with some Facebook / Social media / news checking whilst grabbing something to eat and rushing out to work. Or it could be as innocuous as emails and meetings filling up your time or settling for a quick store bought lunch before your next meeting.

The idea here is that there are potentially hundreds of factors that can derail your day causing stress, lack of productivity and make our health and fitness a by product of our bad habits…

The daily hit of cortisol each time something takes you by surprise, that spike in blood sugar from your breakfast cereal or bagel, that energy slump you get from the pre-packed lunch you got at the shop, that spike of energy concealing your tiredness from your afternoon coffee… All these things can contribute to a chain of negatives which cumulate day by day, for weeks, months and years causing a raft of hidden health issues including you guessed it…weight gain.

Now whilst we have no control on external events, we can mitigate their impact with what I call strategic thrive habits. These are the types of behind the scenes habits top performers implement on autopilot in order to perform at their best every day.

Here are some of my favourite thrive habits which can make a huge difference in your productivity, energy levels, happiness and health metrics:

#1 Start the day the night before

Sleep is one of your most important fundamentals yet a Gallup study found that 40% get less than the recommended minimum of 7h a night. Staying up late on the computer or watching tv exposes us to blue light and hormone triggers which mess with our circadian rhythm which as a result can make it difficult to get to sleep and wake up in the morning refreshed.

#2 Join the 5am club

This is a concept first coined by Robin Sharma, where you start your day hours before your typical wake up time. A 5am wake for example provides me with some “me” time whilst everyone else is sleeping. I start with a 20 minute rowing session to warm up, listening to a podcast, an audio book or music. Then up to 7am when the family wakes up I can plan my day, research and work on my most important projects (without the distraction of email / social media / colleagues / family & friends). No more cortisol spikes first thing in the morning!

#3 Stick to your plan by prepping your meals

Take the guesswork out of your meal decisions and avoid the hazards of store bought foods by planning your breakfast and lunch meals ahead of time at home based on your diet objectives.

Another top tip in that department is to only go shopping on a full stomach and only buy whats on your shopping list. It’s boring, but willpower starts at the store not at home…

Where else can you be more strategic vs reactive in your life?