The set of habits doesn’t have to be complex, though. Take Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, for example. He has two key habits that he does every day without fail: gratitude and exercise. Each morning, he wakes up and asks himself what he’s thankful for. Acts of gratitude like this are shown to improve mental and physical health. Next, Nadella hits the gym. No matter where he is, he commits to going to the gym for at least 30 minutes. He says it makes a huge difference – and he’s right. People who are physically fit have improved cognitive function.
Good habits for a positive mindset
Your mindset determines how you perceive the people around you and the situations you find yourself in. For that reason, a positive mindset will also determine your success in leadership. Approach your employees and tasks with a positive, enthusiastic mindset, and the results will follow. Approach them with a negative mindset, and you will only get negativity in return. Here’s how to use your habits to put yourself in a better headspace:
To show up with enthusiasm and optimism, you must first feel good. Exercise is an excellent way to boost happiness because it releases “feel-good” chemicals like endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. The combination of chemicals that are released during exercise are proven to relieve depression and anxiety. One study, showed that 20 minutes of exercise can boost your mood for 12 hours.
Meditation forces you to slow down and reconnect with yourself. Most importantly, it can help you realize that your thoughts are separate from you. You are not your thoughts. When you’re able to make that connection, you’ll find that you judge yourself less. That makes your thinking and decision-making clearer and easier.
If meditation isn’t for you, try breathwork (or do both!). Breathwork has been practiced for centuries for its ability to help increase positivity, focus, and efficiency. The act of sitting still, focusing on the breath, and concentrating on certain breathing techniques forces you to slow down and be present. The result is more mental and physical energy.
4. Healthy eating
It’s not surprising that a healthy diet contributes to having a positive mindset. Studies have shown that eating a diet high in whole foods like fruits and veggies increases happiness. Fiber has also been flagged as important, as it contributes to gut health which is linked to mental health.
As a leader, you’re probably pressed for time, running from meeting to meeting. With so many problems to solve and people to manage, it’s very easy to get to the end of the day and feel unsure as to how you got there. By that point, you likely have a tornado of thoughts in your head. Journaling — or any other type of self-reflection — is meant to help you release all of those thoughts and separate yourself from them. Then, you can zoom out and refocus on what matters.
6. Start your day without technology
Your waking moments and the hours that follow set the tone for your day. Do you want to start your day with someone else’s words or your own? Instead of jumping right into your phone, try some of the other habits outlined above. By doing so, you choose your own mood instead of letting someone else do it for you.
As a leader, you should be committed to ongoing learning. After all, what kind of leader remains stuck in the past with old information? Reading is a great way to open yourself up to new ideas and concepts. Reading also relieves stress, increases empathy, and helps you process your real life.
8. Seek knowledge
Reading isn’t the only way to learn, of course. Be curious – listen to podcasts, watch speeches, listen to TED talks, take an online course. There are so many ways to gain knowledge. Not only will it mentally stimulate you, but you’ll be a more respectable leader for it.
Good habits, powerful results
When it comes to building habits, slow and steady is best. Adding in one or two new habits can impact multiple areas of your life.
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