I am pretty obsessed with habits. While I still have plenty of bad habits (who hasn’t) here are the best habits I have developed over the years.
I started taking regular cold showers (inspired by Wim Hof). The most useful variation for me is this: I alternate between hot and cold 2–4 times and always finish with 1–2 minutes cold. For beginners, I recommend starting with just 20–30 seconds at the end, and then build it up from there. To spice it up, begin with cold (man, this can be uncomfortable!). It always takes courage, and I always get rewarded. I actually hate cold water and the first 10 seconds are hard. I try to stay calm and not to panic, just breathe calmly. I also tell myself what Wim Hof always says: “The cold is my warm friend”, to change my attitude towards the cold. The feeling afterwards is incredible. And there are plenty of benefits to challenge your body (and mind) in this way. Important: Don’t put your head under the water (it hurts, and you also could faint). The face is usually fine. Be careful and play it safe!
I started doing the 7 Min Workout Challenge daily. This was my most important habit I started in 2015.
I switched from reading books to listening to audio books (I use Audible). That way I got through 2–3 times as many books as before. I have the 9,95 EUR/month subscription (you can choose 1 book per month) and additional books cost a flat 9,95 EUR (instead of 20–30 EUR without subscription). I listen while cleaning the kitchen, and I take regular 30–60 minutes Audible walks after lunch or on weekends.
I disabled most push notifications on my iPhone, especially most Badge App Icons as they are a source of anxiety and stress for me. For most things I receive email notifications anyways, which gives me better control how to deal with this input. I also moved all social networking apps into a folder on my second screen, harnessing the principle “out of sight, out of mind”. This reduced my constant social media checking considerably. Instead I’ve put my Audible app, the 7 Min Workout app and other important apps on my home screen.
I started using Zencover notebooks as my primary daily planning tool.
I started using the Game Day Concept for time management. It’s a great metaphor and helpful tool to distinguish between the different productivity levels a day can have.
I started running twice per week. It was a great year where I started to get into shape again. I stopped running in 2015 as I don’t enjoy it too much, and switched to run occasional competitions which is much more fun (like the Survival Run or the StrongmanRun, or an occasional half marathon).
I read How to Win Friends and Influence People and started to radically applying these principles, which has greatly improved my human relationships.
In addition to flossing my teeth I started to use a water flosser. It’s incredible how much stuff is left between your teeth even after flossing. I use the Waterpik WP-300 (which is also perfect for traveling).
I learned sales skills from Umberto Saxer and have built a sales team at Trigami. This was the year where our business finally took off and became a real business.
Inspired by Delivering Happiness I started paying much more attention to team building and company culture. The most important habit was to start doing monthly all-hands meetings and being radically transparent with the team. This is when Alain and myself became real leaders and our team became mature. In our hiring process we also started to screen for “cultural fit” which has become a very important hiring principle.
I stopped consuming alcohol 100%. One of the best decisions I ever made. It made my life so much simpler. I don’t have to decide anymore after how much to stop, whether it’s okay to still drive, I save a ton of money, I sleep better and much more. And most importantly: one less thing that could potentially ruin my life, as I have a highly addictive personality. With that I join Warren Buffett and other highly successful people that made the same decision.
I started meditating every day (usually twice) and have done it until mid 2015. Then I switched to “physical” meditation with my 7 Min Workout as I simply was not able to do both, and at that point physical exercises became more important for me. Those 6.5 years of daily meditation have truly changed my life and I wouldn’t want to miss it.
I started taking my personal finances very seriously after reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad and The Intelligent Investor. I discovered value investing during the darkest days of the financial crisis and have started investing using these timeless principles. I also paid off my remaining debt I incurred when founding Trigami (when incorporating we only paid in 50k instead of the 100k of the required capital. So we paid it off within 18 months, basically from learning to live frugally and managing our expenses carefully).
I studied The 4-Hour Workweek and started applying the following principles: Pareto principle (80 percent of the output is achieved by 20 percent of the input), being aware of Parkinson’s Law (The law says that work expands automatically to fill all available time. If you have 3 days to finish something you finish it in 3, and if you have 12 days it takes the whole 12), Media diet (stopped watching and reading news. If something is truly important, you will hear it from friends).
I read Getting Things Done (today I recommend the shorter version Zen to Done, here is the free German edition) and radically implemented those principles in every area of my life (physical and digital). At that time I have just started Trigami, was 24 years old with no prior work experience, had grown to a team of 6 people and was drowning in my self-made chaos. I was very close to a nervous breakdown when I discovered GTD, and the book saved me from this misery.
I started blogging (here is my first post). My blog led to the creation of Trigami, let to finding angel investors, and even led to my 15 minutes of internet-fame when discovering that openBC will rename itself to XING (good old times! I never had such a story again)
I started my online identity by starting the Ayom webmaster forum (sold in 2015 to seo-portal.de) and started writing and sharing online. However this led to a bad forum addiction, culminating in 6500 postings on Ayom. I pretty much paralyzed myself for years. On the bright side: This is where I learned my SEO, Online Marketing, and Community-Building skills, which pay dividends to this day. It was just stupid to spend so much time in forums, when I could have achieved pretty much the same with only 20% of the input (Pareto principle).
I started reading business books and taking personal development seriously.
I bought my first domain and started creating my online business together with Alain (a copycat project with the catchy name of geldverdienst.ch). That 70 CHF purchase was very scary at that time, it was a lot of money for something like that. Since then I jumped many times into the cold water. It’s a great habit: “Do what you are scared of.” Scared to buy this domain? Buy it. Scared to do your first Facebook Live? Do it now. Scared to start a blog? Start writing now. Scared to take a dancing class? Sign up now.
I had developed many bad habits up until this point. Staying up late playing computer games. Cluttering my desk. Watching hours of television per day. Not preparing for exams. On a school trip I over-heard someone speaking about not watching TV anymore. This was the right spark at the right time. After the trip I stopped watching TV 100% (I soon gave my TV away and never got another one), started cleaning my desk (because it’s impossible to work at a desk cluttered with junk), started to do my homework, and most importantly, started to systematically prepare for exams. Soon I started to get excellent grades and I started to gain self-confidence. Especially math exercises became a major source of flow for me. There is no better feeling than to successfully solve a math problem. TSCHAKAA BOOM, YES YES YES!! (does that sound familiar to anyone? Or am I the only weirdo shouting out loud after solving a math problem?) This feeling accompanied me until the end of my collage days and was a major source for developing my current passion for learning.