[This post is part of a series on the Self-Imposed Daily Challenging Healthy Activity (SIDCHA). If you don’t see a Table of Contents to the left, click here to view the series, where you’ll get more value than reading just this post.]
I bet most successful people have at least one self-imposed daily challenging healthy activity (introducing what should become a standard personal development term SIDCHA, pronounced sid’-chah), whether they developed them intentionally or not. I bet most losers have none. And I bet the more you develop SIDCHAs, the better you’ll find your life, however you define success.
To live well you have to choose to live well, which means choosing to do the activities that create the life you want. SIDCHAs train you to choose what you want.
Examples of SIDCHAs include exercising, taking classes, writing, meditation, playing music, creating art, many hobbies, intentionally taking cold showers, dancing, yoga, and many others. Things that don’t qualify include going to work, brushing your teeth, talking to friends, and casual reading.
Some people don’t have the resources to exit their situation, but almost certainly if you’re reading this blog, you have the resources to create the lifestyle you want. Most people don’t reach their potential because of internal blocks, not external ones: they don’t choose to do what they feel they should.
I’ll put it in food terms because most people in this country are fat and don’t want to be (you can translate it into your relevant area of life you want to improve if it isn’t food):
People don’t lack access to healthy food or information on nutrition. They choose to eat chocolate cake.
People don’t lack ability to exercise. They choose to sit on the couch and not exercise.
People don’t choose to do what improves their lives. They choose what’s easy. Then their lives don’t improve. SIDCHAs train them to improve their lives. They develop and build your skills to choose what improves your life over what’s easy but not helpful.
The same pattern applies to many other areas.
The world is swimming with advice on improving your life. I’ll give you the top advice to achieve anything — melting fat, being more assertive, bigger muscles, better relationships, whatever. People talk about taking classes, exercising, dieting, taking classes, and tons of other things.
Today’s post combines them into one simple direction: have more SIDCHAs. And more effective ones too.
(Follow the links in this post on willpower for data on the correlation between the related concept of willpower and success)
The Self-Imposed Daily Challenging Healthy Activity — the SIDCHA
The name describes it: find something to do daily that’s challenging and that you have to motivate yourself to do. Again, just going to work or brushing your teeth doesn’t count.
And again, I would bet most successful people have at least one SIDCHA, probably more. And I bet most people who don’t like their lives don’t have any.
We all hit problems in life — losing money, jobs, friends, and so on. I bet people who maintain their SIDCHAs through those times don’t suffer from those problems while people who don’t maintain them feel buffeted by the storms of life, victims of chance they can’t overcome.
Let’s look at what the name implies. Each word brings essential meaning.
You have to do something. You have to involve your muscles, senses, and motivations. Likely you’ll interact with others.
If you don’t have to do anything for the activity, it won’t help you develop.
The activity has to improve your body, mind, or both to help you. You can probably tell if an activity is healthy or not. If you’re not sure, check about people who do the activity regularly. Do they seem like you’d like to be? If not, try something different.
There is no shortage healthy activities. If you can’t think of any, they’re there. Find them.
The activity has to challenge you. It can challenge you mentally, emotionally, physically, or any combination.
- Physical challenges include exercising, fasting, and learning physical skills like dancing
- Emotional challenges include taking cold showers, learning emotional skills like acting, and developing social skills
- Mental challenges include writing, meditation, and taking academic classes
Most activities overlap more than one area.
If the activity doesn’t challenge you, it won’t help you develop. Brushing your teeth doesn’t count, for example. It’s too simple and you probably want to do it anyway to keep your mouth clean. Same with too-easy “exercise.”
You have to do activity regularly for the benefit to stick. You might be able to get away with every other day, but why barely get by?
You can combine different activities, like two separate things on alternate days — say, lifting weights on odd-numbered days and meditating on even-numbered days. Or other combinations, like classes on weekdays and exercising on weekends. You get the idea. Just do something every day.
If you don’t to it daily, or at least regularly and often, it won’t help you develop.
You have to motivate yourself to do it. Going to work doesn’t count if you need to do it to pay rent and eat. Most exercise counts because if you don’t do it you won’t suffer. Taking cold showers counts because it’s hard to get in.
What the full combination gives you
This full combination of an activity being self-imposed, daily, challenging, and healthy that you do enables you to choose the activities you want. Since your choices and choices develop who you are, SIDCHAs create your lifestyle and identity.
They keep you resilient from depression or other emotions you don’t want by stabilizing your mood and giving you ways to prevent getting derailed. Once you’re good at adopting and maintaining SIDCHAs of any sort, when you want to improve any other part of your life, you can adopt and maintain SIDCHAs for it. If you want to get in shape, learn a skill, meet new people, or whatever, you just find relevant SIDCHAs and adopt them — like exercising more, taking classes, learning social skills, or whatever.
Read this awesome post on SIDCHA properties for ideas of what to look for in creating your SIDCHAs.
A call to action
What SIDCHAs do you have?
What SIDCHAs would improve your life that you could start?
What are you waiting for?
I’m serious about asking what SIDCHAs you have. I’d love to create a list to motivate and inspire others, and to help them find ones that work for them in their areas.
Learn to make Meaningful Connections
with a simple, effective exercise from my book, Leadership Step by Step.
- Step by step instructions
- Video examples of me and Marshall Goldsmith
- An excerpt from my book