You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine – John C. Maxwell
I used to come across this cliché quote back in the day but never really gave it two seconds. I was living my best life and for all I knew at the time, I was successful because I deserved it.
Call it pride. Call it naivety. Heck, you can even call it plain dumb.
I used to believe that good things happen to good people and my successful career was my reward for always dotting within the circle.
My bank account was healthy, my landlord was my BFF and I was sleeping like a baby.
As fate would soon have it, my bank account was put on life support, my landlord turned into a fire-breathing dragon, and had to google ‘how to induce sleep’.
Going through life thinking my comfy lifestyle was mine coz I deserved it blinded me. It left me ill-prepared for what happens if I lost it all, and lose it all I did.
The problem with your first major fall is that it catches you at a time when you aren’t in complete control of your emotions. You lash out like a deranged person and for some reason, you always find someone to blame except yourself.
That was me. I even had a very fiery conversation with the Man upstairs, questioning the meaning of it all and asking dumb questions like ‘kwani niliibia nani’. Haha...looking back I can’t help but laugh.
There are people who are capable of picking themselves up in a matter of seconds after their first fall and simply kep moving on, I am not one of those people.
I spent too much time stuck in that vicious cycle of self-pity. Living hand to mouth is something I’d not wish on anyone. Working odd jobs just to keep the lights on.
The beauty of your version of losing it all is that you get a lot of free time. This could work for or against you, depending on how you go about it.
I spent mine applying for any jobs I came across that had the slightest connection to anything I knew.
In high school, I discovered what I referred to as my peak brain hours.
This is when my brain operates at its highest capacity on any given day. Mine does it mid-morning (8 – 11 am). It then has a last kick between (9:30 pm and midnight-ish).
I have to say that learning this about myself made things easier. I used to maximise those peak brain hours and that is how I got through high school, campus, and more campus right up to this very moment,coz I’m writing this article mid-morning.
My problem was that since I knew my brain kicked in at around 8 am, I got into this routine of waking up at around 7:30am.
This meant I missed a lot of morning preps (If my parents are reading this...stop) and got into a lot of trouble.
It was a habit I maintained during my A-levels in Uganda. Campus years at Makerere were a bit easier because I had evening classes, same as my short stint at UoN in pursuit of a Masters.
I told myself that if my routine had gotten me this far, then why change it? Why change a winning formula? I didn’t.
That was until I hit rock bottom that I mentioned some time back.
As I had a lot of free time and literature is something I can’t help but consume, I spent most of my days just locked in my house, partly because I was dodging the landlord but mostly because I was reading.
I read anything I could get my hands on. From motivational books that had me feeling like I could win the presidential election, to finance books that gave me insights into why I was where I was, to fictional thrillers that made me wish I had a jiko - na sio la makaa.
I gobbled it all up.
It was during this heavy reading phase of my life that I had an aha moment. I noticed a pattern in all the stories I had read.
From Midas Touch by Robert Kiyosaki and Donald Trump, to Thrive by Arianna Huffington, to Snowball by Warren Buffet to Game of Thrones by George R.R Martin.
They all had one thing in common...Routines.
Routines that they adhered to with the zeal of a religious fanatic.
In Game of Thrones (book), my favourite warriors all kicked off the day with a good sweat. I noticed this was a thing for some of the wealthiest people in the world.
I decided to adopt that for myself and see how far it would take me, I mean, I literally had nothing to lose.
So instead of waking up at 7:45am, I set my alarm for 5:30am. I wanted to have my reading and work out done by 7 am.
A 5:30am alarm meant I’d wake up at 6am during those early days. It takes time to form a habit.
After 3 or so weeks, my Pentium 2 brain was now waking me up just before my irritating alarm went off and before I knew it, my baby-level sleep would just come to an abrupt end at 5:45 am every day, without fail.
I used to spend the first half an hour just reading up, then the next working out, then a shower, then breakfast, then I’d start my day, still at 8 am.
I soon switched to combining my work out session with reading by making use of audiobooks on YouTube.
This left me with more time in the morning and I soon added music and radio to my morning routine.
Changing this one aspect of my daily life has been working for me so much that I decided to add writing stuff down during my night peak hours. A sort of guide for the next day and that soon became the first thing I read when I woke up.
Nothing fancy, just a to-do list that I could check off at the end of the day when my brain is half-dead.
The funny thing is I didn’t notice what these subtle little changes were doing to my wallet until this very moment.
My bank account is healthy, my next landlord could potentially be my BFF, and I am back to sleeping like a baby.
The difference is that this time, I know that my success isn’t a result of any good deeds or entitlement. I am where I am right now because I worked my behind off. I am where I am right now because I embraced change. I am where I am because of my daily routines.
If you take just one thing from this entire article, let it be this. Evaluate your daily routines, and don’t copy mine coz chances are that your peak-brain hours are completely opposite of mine.
However, make it a point to do some work out each day. There’s something amazing that happens when you start gaining control of your body. It’s like the brain just follows.
I’m not a fitness guru either. I am actually a proud owner of the best one-pac on the planet. All I’m saying is that there’s a discipline you develop when you get into these routines that are then easily transferable to your personal finances.
Someone once said that insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting different results. If you were like me – and by that, I mean that you aren’t where you want to be, then what do you have to lose by changing things up?
I found a lot of other similarities when it comes to highly successful people, but that’s a story for another day.