Mike Bergida


Mike Bergida 703-623-5566

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Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson


Last time, we talked about the importance of taking massive action.  We saw how to use your ratio of success to estimate how much activity you will need to generate your desired results.  Today, let’s turn our attention to habits.



Enthusiasm carries the hour,

habits carry the day. ~Mike Bergida



When you get fired up, it’s easy to whip up activity.  You can create an impressive amount of work.  Quickly, decisively.  Generally, after 72 hours, the fire fades. The activity level dims.  That’s when you need to add the big logs – habits.


Business philosopher Jim Rohn introduced me to the importance of habits.  But, for a long time I puzzled over which ones I should cultivate.


We all fall into routines without thinking.  Often, in response to the external demands of school or employer.  Unless internalized, what may pass for discipline disappears when the external authority disappears.  


The genius of Maria Montessori, Italy’s first woman medical doctor and insightful educational philosopher, was to provide a structured environment that could provide structure to the inner personality of her children.  The habits they developed freed their creativity to operate at the highest level.


For us, let us cultivate those habits that advance us to our goals.


Habits need to show up on our weekly calendar.  Todd Tressider, a perceptive career coach to millionaires, once told me that by looking at someone’s daily schedule he can determine if they will meet their goals.  So can you!


So, to influence your destiny, control your calendar.  At least the part you can.


This is a fundamental.  You may have it already down.  However, do you raise up the next generation by your personal success or beat them down?


A friend of mine in Minneapolis / St. Paul had a millionaire father who imparted his genetics for achievement but little else to his son.  He was content to have his son live in the shadow of his success. 


It’s been said to be a success, you need a successor.  Do you have the language to convey the keys of your success to the next generation? 


Over the years, I have informally polled others about what specifically brought them success.  In business.  In family life.  In relationships.


Often they are at a loss for words.  While example viewed on the sidelines may give insight and plant the seed for motivation, language gives direction.  Helps others avoid needless mistakes.  Instills confidence. Builds mastery.


So, if you are a master of personal discipline, look here for additional tools to help impart your intangible legacy.


Work to control the critical 20%


Harvard law school graduate Fr. Michael Scanlon said years ago that when he put too much on his calendar, his day went off course.  He learned to commit under 50% of his time in order to be effective.


As with most things in life, you need to navigate between two rocks:  all or nothing . . . too much or too little.


Aim to complete your critical 20% in the first 5 to 6 hours of your day.  Gary Keller, author of The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results, advocates getting our critical activities accomplished by 11 a.m. every day. As the day unfolds, the unexpected is more likely to derail our day so we never get to the core activities that fuel our success.


A word for night owls: transpose these principles into your schedule.  If not at the beginning of the day, then at the end when the demands of others fall away and your energy surges.


The underlying principle is to match your peak period of alertness and freedom from interruptions with your peak tasks.



Success in life without good personal discipline sets the stage for even greater failure.  ~Mike Bergida



Develop these important rituals to start:


  • End of Day Ritual
  • Start of Day Ritual
  • First Work Hours Ritual


Ritual carries the idea of deliberate activity.  Habit made ritual helps move you into the groove and keep you there.  Over time, that part of your day runs smoothly.  Without wasted motion or effort.  It renews energy in your life.  Pulls you through times of emotional upheaval. And, when you lapse because of travel or illness, ritual gives you a way to re-engage, get back on course.



End of Day Ritual


Reminder alarms help me disengage from the surrounding activity to focus on what’s next in my schedule. The Remember the Milk app on my smart phone has listed each step of my night routine:


  • Family Prayer
  • Set out clothes for next day
  • Set out bath towel, etc.
  • Set out glass of water on bed stand
  • Daily Examen
  • Write plan for next day
  • Plug cell phone into charger
  • Read Scripture
  • Lights out by 10 p.m.


Of course, I could do all of these without referring to a list.  Though not in the same order and not always with the most efficient flow.  That’s why following a list even when the overall routine is second nature still has merit.


I also have a DON’T list that reminds me what not to do.  These are “fun” distractions that I might easily fall into and then fall out of my schedule.  For example, I have


  • DON’T read anything creative once you’ve started Evening Ritual



Start of Day Ritual


Your morning begins with the night before.  Unless you have a solid night routine, your morning routine will always be in upheaval.


The great Zig Ziglar would get up at 5 a.m. no matter how late he hit the pillow.  Once he returned home at 3 a.m. because of delayed flights.  He kept his 5 a.m. appointment. 


St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, wrote about the heroic moment.  That moment of courage to get up when the alarm first heralds the end of slumber. 


At that time of day, I’m not very heroic. It’s very hard to rise to the occasion when you haven’t had adequate sleep.


Many people say they can get by on say, five or six hours of sleep.  Life management coach Kenneth W. Smith used to teach we shouldn’t aim to “get by” on sleep. Good time management doesn’t require you to rob your sleep to have a life.  Even with two more stolen hours at your disposal, there is more to be done than fits into a day!


The secret, says Timothy Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, when you have too much to do, is to stop forward motion and prioritize.


That’s what we are doing with rituals.  We are prioritizing our days so the most important things happen – consistently.


So, don’t feel guilty about getting six to eight hours of rest.  You need it. And your children or grandchildren may need up to nine or ten hours of sleep.  The important thing is what happens when you first open your eyes.


Here is my morning routine on days I write this blog:


  • Rise at 5
  • Drink two glasses of water
  • Slight exercise
  • Personal prayer
  • Study until 7 a.m.


It flows right into the next part of my day:



First Work Hours Ritual


  • Write blog from 7 to 10 a.m.
  • Meet with John about inventions until noon
  • Cleanup
  • Leave for office


Different days have different schedules.  That’s why planning the night before helps.  When I don’t, I sometimes mix one day’s schedule with another.  That livens things up!


One day I realized that 45 minutes of the most productive part of my day was spent commuting. I changed my schedule.  For some, this flexibility is not an option. 


If not, you could be tempted to throw in the towel.  Is easy to opt out: My schedule is controlled by my boss.  My time is not my own. 


However, I’ll bet you have some give in your schedule that mine doesn’t have. 


When you hit a brick wall in setting up an effective schedule (and you will), this is when you need to be resourceful.  Ask yourself, and challenge others, “What can work?”  “How can I make this work?”


For example, instead of randomly listening to the radio on the way to work, why not use this as a time for study about investments? About technology that can make a difference in your life?


Here is where Brian Tracy’s saying, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me,” again comes into play.  Excuses and opt-outs won’t get you to your goal.  Focus and determination, over time, will. 


You can enjoy either success or the consolation of excuses, you can’t have both.