The 90-Day Reset—and How It Can Transform Your Life

Whether you have a three-year, 12-month or 20-year vision for your life, you can make great strides by starting with a 90-day game plan.

With this plan, you’ll reflect on the type of person you are: whether you’re someone who is naturally results-driven and tends to jump straight to trying to drive up the bottom line, or someone who is more reflective but who perhaps isn’t always good at getting clear on what needs to be done. You’ll focus on getting results in 90 days but see results at your 30- and 60-day benchmarks. You’ll review your progress weekly during the course of the game plan, to establish what’s working and what needs more work. You’ll assess whether you’re heading in the right direction, staying agile, needing to make some changes, or trying different tactics.

To achieve this, we’ll explore the following questions in each of the four keys—business, body, relationships, and mindset:

1. What is the single biggest challenge you are facing in your business, body, relationships, and mindset?

2. What are your desired outcomes for each key in 90 days?

3. What options and ideas do you have that will help you achieve your desired outcome?

4. How will you turn your ideas into a specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely (SMART) targets?

Stretch Your Goals

Whether you’re a sports team or a business, the principles for going beyond your comfort zone are the same. In the film Facing Giants, there’s a scene I share in the Get Fit To Win workshop. It’s a little cheesy, although for some, it is very emotive and inspiring. The coach is communicating with his players, and one guy, Brock, has this limiting belief. He doesn’t think they can win their next game.

The coach turns to him and says, ‘Have you written Friday night off as a loss, Brock, already? Have you written the game off?’

Brock responds, ‘Not if I think we can beat them.’

The coach takes the team outside and runs a drill called the Death Crawl. Brock has to carry one of his teammates on his back, crawling with just hands and feet. The coach asks Brock how far he thinks he can get, and Brock says, ‘I think I can get to thirty yards with Jeremy on my back.’

The coach says, ‘No. I think you can get to fifty yards with Jeremy on your back. I’m going to blindfold you because I don’t want you quitting when you think you’ve gone far enough.’

They proceed, with Brock carrying Jeremy, and he gets to a point where he’s in a lot of pain. The rest of the team start laughing, saying, ‘He’s never going to get to fifty.’

The coach shouts encouragement, saying, ‘twenty more yards, five more yards’, and so on.

When Brock takes off his blindfold, he sees that he’s actually gone 100 yards. For Brock, his comfort zone was 30 yards, and his stretch was 50. He was limiting himself with his belief. Once his limits were removed, he had the capacity to attain 100 yards.

I experienced this first-hand as head coach of Team GB Inline Hockey. We were the lowest seed, and the Czechs were the highest, yet I believed we could steal points in the Pool A group against Team Czech and Team Finland. It wasn’t just delusion; I knew with the right tactics we could upset them. But tactics are useless without belief. We had to believe in our tactics, and we had to believe we could win. I remember texting the captain my thoughts. I texted, ‘We have an opportunity to beat the Czechs, who are the highest seed as world championships.’ He thought I had been drinking! In the end, we tied the Czechs and beat the Finns.

Playing Safe Is Risky

As a business leader, you may need to take risks during your 90-Day Reset and embrace the unknown to achieve your vision.

On Team GB, one of our mantras was ‘Playing safe is risky’. Whilst there are times when it is appropriate to play safe, it is also a sign of complacency or avoiding a perceived threat.

You’ll see players turn away from their opponent, failing to execute a play in the hope they won’t make a mistake or get turned over. It is a sign of nerves, the inner voice keeping them safe when really, they need to be on the offence. This is as true in business as it is in sports. Playing it safe can prevent you from moving forward and reaching your full potential, but you can commit to being on the offence and going for the win.

Executing your 90-Day Reset will require the right mindset to deal with your inner voice that will try to derail you. The reset is about going all in, so timing is key. It’s about action that keeps you motivated and driven; you’ll need to keep your purpose at the forefront of your mind as a daily reminder of your why. This keeps you going forward and frees you of any fear and anxiety about the outcomes attached to risk that keep you in your comfort zone. If you play it safe, you’ll never reach your full potential. Commit, be on the offence, and go for the win!

Mastermind Example: 90-Day Reset

Ready to create your plan? Here’s an example of a 90-Day Reset that came from Mark Baker, who is one of my Get Fit To Win Mastermind participants. You’ll see there is a mix of metrics and plenty of non-urgent, big-picture objectives.

1. Business Key:

  • Improve profit per salesperson and increase overall business profitability by 12 per cent
  • Change commission plan to reward overachievers and pay less for those under target

2. Body Key:

  • Lose a stone (6.5KG)
  • Do 3–4 gym sessions a week and 1 × 15-minute HIIT session at home per week
  • Stick to a healthier diet and no alcohol at home during the week

3. Relationship Key:

  • Arrange a date night every week
  • Spend more quality time with my daughters (even though they’re grown up, independent, and busy doing their own thing – I don’t see them enough)

4. Mindset Key:

  • A minimum of ten minutes of meditation per day
  • Take time out for a 15 to 20-minute walk at lunchtime to get out the office and away from the desk every day

By considering how The 4 Keys affect your life and tailoring the 90-Day Reset to fit your needs, you can take the first step toward long-lasting change.

For more advice on career performance, you can find The 4 Keys on Amazon.

Andrew Sillitoe is a business psychologist, author, and speaker. His innovative approach to leadership and work-life balance has earned him invitations to work with a range of global companies, including Pfizer, Nationwide, Virgin, and the BBC. Today Andrew runs the UK’s number-one training company for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to succeed in business, health, relationships, and mindset.

The 4 Keys on Amazon

Passion vs. Purpose—Which Drives You?

There’s a difference between passion and purpose, but they both play an important role in your personal and professional lives.

Passion is what we love. For example, I’m passionate about roller hockey. I love it. Passion is what serves us. Purpose, on the other hand, is about serving others. Your purpose becomes your why. How do you, through your purpose, serve others? Your customers? Your team? Your friends and family? From this identification of purpose, your values begin to manifest.

What is your motivation for change? Why is it important to you? Who, besides yourself, will benefit from these changes? Answering these questions encourages you to think outside of yourself. Why did you create your vision? What would future-you say to present-you in a postcard? Who else benefits from that future?

When I spoke to young hockey players, I told them how much I loved the game. I played and practised every day. I always wanted to win. I wanted to be the best. I would get quite upset and frustrated when, particularly at men’s world level, other players would go out drinking at the world championships. They’d say, ‘We’re away for ten days. We’ve got to relax and have fun.’ I would be thinking, We’re away for ten days to play hockey, not to go out and drink. Then they’d turn up for a match the next day hung over, and I’d be so angry. On reflection, this was selfish of me because I was only serving myself by fulfilling my passion. However, if you play with purpose, you’re still playing with intent, but you’re playing with the intent to make the rest of the players better. For me, this is at the very heart of leadership.

Like many other young players, in my early playing days, it was all about proving myself to the coach, Mark Cavallin, and holding on to the puck a bit longer to try and beat more players or pull off a fancy play. I was a selfish player. At one point, I apologised to my coach for not scoring goals, and he told me to stop trying. He told me to instead focus on assisting other players and letting them score the goals. Suddenly, through this selfless play, I started scoring more goals. Mark led the team with purpose. He was more concerned with developing and teaching us as individuals and not just players, and his consistency and sense of purpose made me really trust him.

The same principles of selflessness and serving others can be applied to business. The best way to get out of your own head is to serve other people. Move the puck quicker and give other players more time on the puck. You’re stronger when you’re serving others and when you’re working as part of a unit, so dare to let go and allow others to thrive so they can realise their visions as well.

Align Your Why Across The 4 Keys

It’s easier to find the purpose for your business than for your relationships because the purpose for a business tends to be more pragmatic, although it may border on marketing messages. While they may have value, business whys can distract from the deeper, more meaningful whys that transcend across all four keys.

My why has often been about helping people create an environment in which they can thrive, feel inspired, and reach their full potential. This translates into helping them become fit and healthy with a positive mindset. I did this with Team GB and with businesses and executives.

However, I didn’t think about the environment I was creating at home. I wasn’t present for my wife or children. For example, I’d never look at my phone halfway through a client meeting, but it never occurred to me that looking at texts and email messages during dinner with my family was just as wrong.

Once I took a deeper look at my purpose—I get up in the morning to help others thrive—I realised my why shouldn’t be limited to my professional life. Paying the bills may be an immediate priority, but it meant very little in the long run, especially compared to other priorities, like my children. Tapping into that why and applying it to my relationships was incredibly important. When I could do that, I connected better with my family, and this reflected back across my business by making me a better coach and team leader.

Each of The 4 Keys is linked. Business. Body. Relationships. Mindset. When something impacts one key, the effects are felt across all four, whether the influence is positive or negative. If your business suffers, so do your relationships. If your health improves, so does your mindset. If your mindset improves, so do your relationships.

For more advice on finding your purpose, you can find The 4 Keys on Amazon.

Andrew Sillitoe is a business psychologist, author, and speaker. His innovative approach to leadership and work-life balance has earned him invitations to work with a range of global companies, including Pfizer, Nationwide, Virgin, and the BBC. Today Andrew runs the UK’s number-one training company for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to succeed in business, health, relationships, and mindset.

For more advice on career performance, you can find The 4 Keys on Amazon.

Andrew Sillitoe is a business psychologist, author, and speaker. His innovative approach to leadership and work-life balance has earned him invitations to work with a range of global companies, including Pfizer, Nationwide, Virgin, and the BBC. Today Andrew runs the UK’s number-one training company for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to succeed in business, health, relationships, and mindset.

The 4 Keys on Amazon

Why You Should Write a Postcard to Yourself

To achieve balance across The 4 Keys—business, body, relationships, and mindset—you need to explore your current position in life and identify what it is you’re not happy with. Create a vision of the ideal future you’d like to work toward.

Once you have your vision, the following exercise can help solidify your intentions and put you in the mindset to make your vision a reality.

Take a postcard and write it from the you of the future—the one who has achieved the visions on your vision board—whether they’re three months, six months, or five years in the future.

Write the card to the current you, telling yourself how it feels to be where you are, having achieved your vision. Once you’ve written your postcard, take a step back and think about what you need to do to get to that future point.

What did the future you do to get there? What did it take? What sort of changes did you make across your four keys to achieve that life? This is a simple but illuminating exercise that provokes real thought and insight.

Here’s an example of a postcard from a future self:

1 October 2022. You would so want to be here right now! We have an apartment in Prague, and we decided to head to the Czech mountains. I’m looking out at the mountains right now. I took a walk before breakfast and am feeling fitter and stronger than ever. It’s so wonderful to have everyone here together. Izzie has a great career and is thriving; we went on a hike together yesterday. I spent the afternoon playing ball with Harry and Freya, and tonight is my favourite night of the week – date night with my wife. Lucie’s business has really taken off and is thriving. Oh, and Get Fit To Win has made a difference to over one million business leaders worldwide. We have a Get Fit To Win conference planned next month to celebrate the success. Anyway, wish you were here.

P.S. When are you getting here?

Take the Exercise One Step at a Time

Keep the postcard simple by breaking it down into four easy steps.

Step 1: Set yourself an imaginary future date from which you’ll be writing your postcard.

Step 2: Describe the achievements under the headers on your vision board, such as business growth, your role, weight loss, and so on.

Step 3: Write the postcard from your future self. Make sure you include words that describe what you see, hear, and feel. This is your untold story that hasn’t come to pass yet, so make sure you describe your emotions and your achievements too.

Step 4: From your future point of view, look back at the steps you had to take to get to this point. What were the key events, decisions, and challenges you faced? How did you overcome the hurdles? What type of mindset did you have to adopt to achieve this vision? This is a good time to consider the non-urgent projects and tasks that you seem to put off because you’re busy with whatever needs to be done at the moment. These non-urgent activities are critical to your progress and will make the greatest difference in your future. Write down some of your non-urgent tasks.

The point of this exercise is to get clearer about your purpose and to prompt you to think about how you’re going to connect your current self to your future self. The more you’re able to define and envision your ideal future, the better prepared you’ll be to set events in motion to make it happen.

For more advice on career performance, you can find The 4 Keys on Amazon.

Andrew Sillitoe is a business psychologist, author, and speaker. His innovative approach to leadership and work-life balance has earned him invitations to work with a range of global companies, including Pfizer, Nationwide, Virgin, and the BBC. Today Andrew runs the UK’s number-one training company for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to succeed in business, health, relationships, and mindset.

The 4 Keys on Amazon

How to stay in the zone

Listen to any high profile athlete speak after a big performance and they will almost always talk about being in the zone. Often they don’t even react in the moment because their focus is so dialled in and it can take even longer for them to realise the magnitude of their achievements.

Think of David Beckham and that free-kick against Greece to send England through to the 2002 World Cup.

After several poor set-pieces earlier in the game when it really mattered, when he really had to deliver, Beckham hooked the ball up and over the wall, sending the players, the stadium, and the country into euphoria.

At that moment for Beckham, it was simple, he had one focus and one goal, to put the ball in the net, and he did. He was in the zone.

But how do you transfer that to business and to your wider life in general?

How do you stay focussed and in the zone when you can seem so far away and so far removed from the big picture?

In today’s episode, I am going to tell you how.

Staying in the zone can mean different things to different people.

Actors, musicians and athletes often talk about being in the zone as being in a state of one’s subconscious self.

Everything just seems to go right, everything just flows naturally and it almost seems as though time has slowed down as they feel and sense every movement.

Other people speak about being in the zone when they are intently focussed on one particular task and everything just seems to go right.

It could be a writer sitting down to type or an artist picking up a brush and once again, everything just naturally happens.

Entrepreneurs talk about it in the same way, they’re hitting targets, closing deals and overcoming any obstacle in their way as once again, everything just seems to go right.

The key thing with all of these examples is that there is a goal or an action that the person involved is solely focussed on achieving and for one reason or another it just seems effortless.

No distractions or outside noise can get in their way as they do everything they can to reach that goal.

I’ve experienced this myself when I’ve played Hockey and when I’ve been on stage, presenting and speaking to a room full of people where I’m fully in the zone and in my stride and I found that there were some key features which helped me to get in the zone and stay there.

Get in the zone

Before I go on stage I like to try and get in the zone, I prepare my body and my mind for what I am about to do and I focus my energy on the next couple of hours.

I practice breathing techniques, taking big deep breaths, three at a time, to focus myself and free my mind of whatever else is happening, my sole focus becomes the stage.

For me, I love being on stage and I love talking to people as each and every time I do it’s an opportunity to connect with someone and to make a difference.

There are millions of business owners out there that are overwhelmed, stressed, unhealthy and struggling in their relationships and when I get up on stage I have the chance to spread the 4 keys message and talk about my passion.

That is my focus before I walk out on stage and for those moments, nothing else matters.

I free my mind of everything else, no matter what it is and I focus my energy on something that motivates me, something I enjoy and what I want to achieve during my time on stage.

This helps me to get into the zone and become laser-focused on what happens next, then my goal is to stay there.

Stay in the zone

As I step out on stage I become consumed by an energy and a drive that keeps me focussed and ready to talk.

I never feel overawed at the moment; by preparing my mind beforehand and visualising my talk I always feel ready to get on stage and ready to make my mark.

Once I’m there I have three things that help me to stay in the zone.

  1. Be focused on a goal, on the message I am trying to get across to the audience
  2. Look for feedback from the audience that tells me I am doing the right thing
  3. Keep my mind loose and to not get too caught up in the moment.

All 3 are vitally important and all 3 help me to remain in the zone and stay focused.

By being focussed on my message I know exactly what I am trying to achieve and I understand how I am trying to get there. It keeps me on track with my talk and dialled in with my message and helps me to remain focussed.

If I had a vague outline and wasn’t really sure what I was going to talk about I would be more likely to lose focus and lose track of my message, as I began to ramble or talk about the wrong things.

The feedback I get from the audience is a way of validating my methods.

I know that I am never going to convert everyone in the room but I also know that with the right energy I can see the change on their faces as they go from looking down at their notepads, fidgeting in their seats to looking up at me, smiling, nodding and ready to engage with my message.

If I see bored or confused faces then I know it could mean I’m on the wrong path.

Finally, I keep my mind free and don’t get too caught up in the moment.

It’s something I first heard about when listening to a Basketball player talk about how they stayed in the zone.

They described the process of overthinking and called it being in the Matrix.

They spoke about how once they started to overthink their actions it was very hard to get back on track and get their focus back to the game.

They would start to doubt themselves and doubt their ability and soon after would start to make small mistakes which lead to bigger ones.

Their advice was to free their mind and not to overanalyse every small situation.

If they made a bad pass they would get straight back to it and just accept that it happens at times, instead of hiding away and hiding from the ball.

I do the same.

If I see a face that isn’t reacting to me the way that I want I don’t get upset, I don’t become over critical, I understand that not everyone will like my message and I run through my own internal checklist to make sure I am doing the right thing and spreading my message in the right way.

Whatever your goal is and whatever your objective, getting and staying in the zone can be a hell of a lot easier than you think.

If you’re trying to write content for your business but struggle to get the words down, plan it out beforehand. Free your mind of distractions, focus on your main message and don get too caught up when something goes wrong or doesn’t sound like you planned.

If you’re making sales calls but you’re struggling with the words, go back over your script and dial back into what you’re trying to achieve. Take it one call at a time, becoming unattached to the result and free your mind from being overanalytical.

Each scenario is different and might need a slight tweak of approach but the methods are the same.

By approaching your goal in this way, becoming laser focussed and freeing your mind from negativity and pressure, you can get in the zone and enjoy your time there as you perform better, more often and to a higher standard.

How to eat clean when travelling

As a business owner, it’s not uncommon to have to travel and whether you’re going around the country or you’re travelling overseas, travel is likely going to be a part of what you do.

It can cause issues with your diet and make it hard to stick to a plan so what do you do when faced with constant travel and how do you still work on your body when faced with this obstacle?

Today I want to talk to you about how to navigate the minefield of travel and discuss how to eat clean and still be successful even though you’re reliant on whatever is available in the hotels, trains or service stations you find yourself holed up in.

Plan your day

This sounds simple, I know, but planning your day, each and every hour ahead of you, is an easy way to manage your diet and keep it clean.

When people think of the travel time they think of time spent in transit and the options available to them right there and then.

But it doesn’t have to be that way and it starts first thing in the morning.

Plan your day and factor in when you can eat, and what will be available. Just because you’re on a train it doesn’t mean you have to eat high sugar snacks and junk food.

If you’re going to be in transit for a long period of time then think ahead to what you can prepare ahead of time or where you can get some good quality food before you have to leave.

Once your day has started, look ahead to any possible downtime, in the mornings, evenings or mid-afternoon, where you do have control over your diet and you can control what you’re going to have to eat.

Once you have control over your schedule and you know when you’re going to eat, you can start to think about what you’re going to eat.

Go off the menu

I’m a big fan of going off the menu.

You can’t do this everywhere you go and especially if your only options are pre-packaged meals, but in the hotel or anywhere that prepares food for you, you’ll have the option to get something a little more to your liking.

Go for a higher protein option or change the order as much as you can. Sometimes, if they have the menu items in, a kind word will get you exactly what you want, but remember, you don’t get if you don’t ask.

Buy a travel bag

A few years ago I went to a local wildlife park and as I stood around the gift shop area waiting for my wife my eyes were drawn to a man sat on a bench eating a plain grilled chicken breast.

I couldn’t believe it, we were surrounded by shops, food stands and a few little cafes and here he was eating a grilled chicken breast he’d bought from home.

Then he went into his small black bag and pulled out…. A boiled egg.

I couldn’t help but laugh.

But here’s the thing, as I started to reflect on what I had just seen, as I thought more about this guy getting his protein intake in whilst out with the family I realised that the joke WAS on me and IS on us, not on him.

The food bag and grilled chicken represented far more than I could have imagined, they represented dedication, dedication and focus to a goal that he had set out to achieve and he was doing all he could to be successful.

If you have the option, make your food ahead of time, buy a cool bag to keep your food at the right temperature, and take it with you.

If it’s good enough for professional fighters, athletes and bodybuilders, it’s good enough for you.

Find a local shop

One of the easiest ways to eat clean when travelling is to stick to what you know.

If you travel to the same places then this is easy, find a local shop that can meet your needs and provide the food you want, if you’re staying in the UK it could be as getting the same thing from a Tesco store where you know the calories and content of the food or visiting a local café or restaurant that will make what you want.

If you’re going further away then it does get a little harder but it’s not impossible.

Seek out the best local options and don’t settle for high sugar junk food that doesn’t meet your goals.

Try intermittent fasting

One of the simplest options and something which is being used by business owners all over the world is the introduction of intermittent fasting into their lives.

The idea is simple; you fast intermittently and only eat during certain blocks.

Too many people get caught up in eating when they’re travelling, just because food is available.

With intermittent fasting, you only eat during set time blocks of the day and you get to take away a lot of pressure around food and dieting.

By incorporating intermittent fasting into your day and changing the food windows, you can keep your diet clean without having to worry about when to eat or succumbing to unhealthy choices whilst you’re out.

You are in control 

The most important thing to remember here is that you are in control.

Yes, travel brings up a degree of uncertainty but it doesn’t mean you have to go off plan.

Keep focussed on your goal, stay determined about what you’re going to achieve and be prepared to

Feel a little hungry at times.

You’re sacrificing what you want now, for what you want the most, and that’s the best choice you can make.

Know your love language

One of the most important keys we can focus on is often our relationships.

With ourselves, our partners and those that are important to us in our lives.

When it comes to these relationships and the question of love it can leave many people feeling unsure about what to do, what to say and how to act.

They can be confused by what people do or don’t do and why they respond better or worse with certain people in their lives.

Very recently I learned that there is more to this than we realise and that actually, with a better understanding of love language, we can build better relationships with the important people in our lives.

What is love language?

Love language is the language we speak when expressing love, it’s how we show our love for others and how we receive it back. This may be in our actions and through our physical touch, or it may be through our words and how we speak to others.

Everyone feels and expresses their love in different ways, which can cause confusion, upset and misunderstandings between partners but by knowing your love language and being clearer on the meanings, you can build stronger relationships with those in your life.

The love languages

So we know that love language is how we show and receive love, but what are the different languages? Well, there are 5 all together and each has its own unique features.

Touch

People that show their love through touch typically physically touch their partners and find this important. It may be holding hands as you walk or stroking your partner’s hair as you watch a movie or lay in bed.

For some people, these can be small tactile displays of affection whereas for others it can be big hugs and huge displays of affection.

People that speak this love language show their love this way and enjoy receiving it back.

But if you or your partner doesn’t enjoy this, it doesn’t mean you don’t love each other, it’s just not your language. Some people hate public displays of affection and don’t like to be touched, it doesn’t mean they don’t love you, that’s just not how they express their love.

Acts of service

Some people express their love by actually doing something for their partner.

Cleaning the house, washing the dishes, giving back rubs and massages, if someone speaks this love language they show their love by doing acts of service for you.

But if only one of you speaks this language it can lead to issues and can lead to one of you feeling unloved.

The key here is to understand this and to reciprocate the love so that both parties feel loved and valued.

Receiving gifts

Some people show their love through things and this may be you. It doesn’t mean you’re materialistic, as it can be small things like flowers or sentimental gifts but it does mean you see this as an expression of love.

Again if only one of you speaks this language it could lead to resentment if the gifts are a one-way street.

The key here is to understand the expression of love and to reciprocate it both ways.

If this is your language, you shouldn’t demand gifts from your partner and expect them back and if it isn’t, you shouldn’t use it as an excuse to not buy your partner anything.

With words

People that speak this love language express their love through words.

I love you, I miss you, I’m just calling to see how you are, people that speak this language say how they feel and put their love into words. Equally, people that speak this language can be affected much deeper by hurtful words or misguided comments.

Some people can find this annoying whereas others love it, just remember if this isn’t your love language, someone that speaks this language isn’t being excessively needy, they’re just expressing how they feel.

Time together

Some people show their love by being present in the moment and spending quality time together.

They want to give their undivided attention to their significant other and give them all of their focus and energy.

It can sound simplistic to think that this is a sign of affection but in today’s world with Smartphone’s and TV and social media, it can be easy to not be present with the ones we love.

If only one of you speaks this language it can cause arguments as the party that isn’t ‘present’, is accused of not showing love to the other, but just remember, each language is different and all affection isn’t expressed the same way.

If you don’t speak this language but your partner does, just be thoughtful and considerate about when you are on your phone and make the effort to be present when they want you there.

Love languages are not singular and it is possible to speak more than one, the thing here is to assess your type and to figure out which one you and your partner speak the most.

By recognising your love language and understanding their own, you can start to build a strong, more loving and more prosperous relationship with the people that matter to you in your life.

The 3 Types of Productive People

There are three types of people when it comes to productivity—and you fit one of them. Maybe you want to be more productive, but the first step toward making changes is knowing which productivity style describes you.

The first group enjoys process and routine, and the more regimented the routine, the happier they are. These folks are naturally geared towards executing on their plan and meeting deadlines.

The second group is those who are focused ‘doers’. They have to consciously prepare themselves, structuring their daily plan to ensure they meet their goals. Routine doesn’t come naturally to them; they have to work at it. This second group recognizes that, even if they work well under pressure, the work they produce at the last minute isn’t as good as it could have been.

The third group is the last-minute heroes. These people genuinely believe that if they leave the work to the last minute, it’ll get done. Last-minute heroes feel that this last-minute approach is perfectly acceptable, then they’ll reflect on how they could’ve done better. They also put themselves under a lot of undue pressure that could have been avoided had they planned better. I used to be in the category but have learned the hard way how to not be a last-minute doer!

Disciplined Productivity

When I was growing up, there was very little routine or consistency in my home. Nobody ever sat me down and made me do my homework. I didn’t have a regimented schedule at home, and I didn’t apply myself at school. Even with hockey, I didn’t think about preparing myself or planning my training, I just thought about playing hockey, getting fit, and getting strong. After I left school, I started my own business with a loan from the Princes Trust, for which I am forever grateful. It forced me to create a business plan and learn how to pitch, but I didn’t have any processes in place, and I didn’t get very far.

Then I got my first ‘real’ job at a startup ski brand. This company didn’t have any processes either. Everyone there, myself included, was winging it, from haphazard marketing to the way we’d receive and ship orders. In 2004, things weren’t going well at the startup, and I told my boss that it wasn’t working out. I had a good relationship with him, but he wasn’t paying me on time. I told him I was going after another opportunity with Yellow Pages, and he replied, ‘That’s a tough gig. You’re not going to get it.’

The recruitment process was extremely competitive, with 100 applicants for each open position. These roles were highly sought-after, with their good pay and great benefits. My recruitment agency managed to bypass most of the hiring rounds and got me straight in front of the interview panel. Two interviews later, I landed the job with Yellow Pages, and it changed my life. Their sales and management training was phenomenal, but the biggest lesson for me was productivity. Training lasted for three weeks, and keeping the job was even more challenging than getting it. After six months, of the six people who had joined my region, I was the only one left.

My brain is hardwired to thrive on and enjoy change and variety, so processes and routines seemed exceptionally boring to me. However, once I got into it, I appreciated the increased productivity and efficiency I got from systematizing my work processes. It was as if something unlocked in me, a new organized version of me, which was a far cry from the version that thrived on chaos. It wasn’t just about targets, it was about keeping on top of my work. I was given two sales campaigns a year, and I had to fill out my diary every day. I had to fill my schedule with between 16 and 20 meetings a week, so I’d set up four to five every day. I scheduled each day, with meetings spread throughout the morning and early afternoon, followed by time to do my artwork, get it reviewed, then pitch it two weeks later.

I managed to organize the postcodes so I could be more efficient with driving from client to client. This required being assertive with the client and totally in charge of my diary. By watching my colleagues, I learned quickly who excelled and why. It all came down to productivity and organization.

I had to own my diary. Completely. Whatever schedule I set for myself, it was imperative that I stuck to it, even if a client requested that I meet a little later or earlier. This was the biggest lesson I have kept with since my time at Yellow Pages – my diary. I am in charge of my diary, no excuses. I’m not going to compromise on my time. I recommend you have the same mindset when it comes to winning daily. It is the most precious thing in life.

For me to meet my targets there simply wasn’t enough time to accommodate changes and still get everything done, so I got into the habit of chunking my day and holding to the schedule. Even though this process didn’t come naturally to me, it started to pay off immediately. This daily management is key to optimizing your productivity and winning every day.

Start Hard

In sports like hockey, coaches will tell you that the more aggressive you are in your opponent’s end, the more time you have on your own. This principle holds true when scheduling your day for business, body, relationships, and mindset. Taking action at the beginning of the day or the week gives you momentum and potentially more time at the end of the day or week because you’ve already gotten the heavy lifting out the way.

Winning the game daily means you have to start your day off right, so a morning routine is essential. Morning chaos is a challenge many people face – especially parents – but setting a morning routine helps. Back in my days at Yellow Pages, I’d try to schedule my first meeting of the day for 8 a.m. I was a single parent during this period, so my early mornings were hectic. I’d get my daughter, Izzie, dressed, fed, drop her off at school or the grandparents, and drive to my first sales meeting. A routine makes you more productive and efficient and sets your day up the right way.

Remember that you won’t win every day. If you do, your goals are probably too easy, and if they’re hard and you still managed to hit them daily, you’d get complacent and start to slack off. Getting it right most of the time is perfectly okay. Don’t beat yourself up on the tough days. Just take a breath and get straight back on the horse.

Even if you fail two days in a row, you can get yourself back on track for a more productive tomorrow.

For more advice on career performance, you can find The 4 Keys on Amazon.

Andrew Sillitoe is a business psychologist, author, and speaker. His innovative approach to leadership and work-life balance has earned him invitations to work with a range of global companies, including Pfizer, Nationwide, Virgin, and the BBC. Today Andrew runs the UK’s number-one training company for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to succeed in business, health, relationships, and mindset.

The 4 Keys on Amazon

Empathy, seeing it through their lens

Empathy is described as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. That is you’re able to identify with them by seeing and understanding the world through their eyes.

It’s an important life skill and especially important for business owners that interact and do business with people from all backgrounds and all walks of life.

But how do you do it? How do you put yourself in the shoes of another and learn how to see the world through their eyes?

I’m going to tell you how with my top tips for being more empathetic.

Learn the skill then practice

Empathy is a learned behaviour, it’s a skill that needs to be developed and honed.

The ability to understand how people feel may not come easy to you so practising is only going to help. It doesn’t matter if it’s in business, your love life or with people in general, empathy is a useful skill which will help you to become a better human being. Learn the skill and practice the actions laid out below.

Talk to new people

Talk with new people and ask them how they are, how they’re feeling and how things are going. Go deeper than the surface questions of normal conversation and actually get to the bottom of how they’re really feeling.

Obviously, there needs to be a certain level of awareness here and not pushing too much but as Jodi Halpern once said “The core of empathy is curiosity” so go out and speak to new people to practice this skill.

Speak with your neighbours or strangers on the train and practice the art of actually being present and engaged in a conversation, learn how to listen and understand and see their point of view.

Open yourself to new experiences

In many situations, we can find it hard to be empathetic as we truly don’t understand what someone is going through.

If you’ve never been marginalised it can be hard to understand how someone that has is feeling.

By going outside of your comfort zone and mixing with different people you can start to see things from their point of view.

Embrace different religions, different cultures and different sexualities and start to look at life from their side to see how they feel about situations and how it makes them react.

This may be as simple as following a more diverse group on social media or it could be as much as going to different meetings, social spots or events. But go and experience how different people live and truly see what life is like through their eyes.

Be honest with yourself 

We are all biased in different ways and the first step to truly being empathetic with someone else is to admit that this bias exists.

By being honest with yourself and addressing these feelings, you can start to overcome them and work towards a deeper understanding of other people.

Acknowledging bias doesn’t mean you have to stick to those beliefs, but it does allow you to confront and move past them.

Actions speak louder than words 

Once you’ve acknowledged your bias and you’ve started to understand why you may feel and think like you do, start to take action to help others.

Saying that you understand and emphasise with a group is one thing but actually taking action to show you support them and understand them is another. Put your money where your mouth is and show you do understand them by being on their side.

Help others, fight for others and support them where you can, remember, actions speak louder than words.

Read up

I’m a big advocate for real-life experiences because as great as books are, they don’t always replicate taking action; however, when it comes to empathy, reading up and learning about a situation is a great idea.

Whether it’s a marginalised group or the plight of someone less fortunate than yourself, it could even be a disgruntled customer unhappy with a service, by reading up and opening your mind you can start to get a better understanding of how and why people feel like they do and start to see things from their point of view.

Be open to change

Finally one of the best ways you can learn to become more empathetic is to be open-minded and be open to change.

Although you may not have the first-hand experience of how the other person is feeling, by being open-minded and being open to change you can put yourself in their shoes, see the argument from the other side and be able to look at things differently. Empathy isn’t about being right or wrong or having the upper hand, it’s about seeing the other persons point of view and understanding how they feel.

Empathy is a useful skill in all walks of life, whether doing business with another country, having a difficult conversation with an employee or just being able to understand your customers wants and needs, but by practising this skill and improving your own abilities, you can start to become a better, more understanding and more empathetic person.

How to accept others

One of the biggest problems we can face as business owners and is judging and not being accepting of other people. We’ve all done it at some time or another and it’s probably happened to us too.

We have different personalities, different morals and ethics and we often have a different outlook and approach on many things in life, but how do we put those things to one side and become more accepting of each other to work towards a more common and positive goal?

In this episode, I am going to tell you how. 

Whether in business or in life we learn through or own experiences and we are shaped to become who we are as a result of what we have been through. The trouble is it’s not always the best thing for us and just because we do things that way it doesn’t mean it’s the only way.

If at work you’re all action and don’t suffer fools lightly, but you find it hard to switch that off and become accepting and more open when you’re at home then it can lead to problems.

Having a sharp and direct approach with people may work in the boardroom but not with your friends and loved ones.

Too often we take the expectations and values we hold ourselves accountable too and put them onto others, expecting them to behave as we do and failing to accept anyone different.

If that’s something you struggle with try my top tips to help you become a more rounded and welcoming and more accepting of others for who they are.

There’s more than one way to skin a cat

Possibly one of the hardest things we can do is to be honest with ourselves and to take a long hard look in the mirror, admitting that as much as we may think we do, we don’t know everything.

There is, after all, more than one way to skin a cat.

When I think of my own sporting experiences I can think of two coaches that I had who employed very different coaching styles but with the same goal in mind and who achieved very similar results.

One of them was a kind, caring, nurturing type of coach that put his arm around you as a player and helped to get the best out of each individual. He focussed on skill development, team cohesion and putting it all together to achieve the end result.

The other coach was the polar opposite, focusing on hard work and being mentally tough, employing some very questionable tactics to get us to function as a team.

He would shout, swear and throw things to get his point across and he wanted us to humiliate the opposition every time we played.

He would light a fire under any player that he felt wasn’t giving maximum effort and he had no time for players that weren’t meeting his standards.

The same can be said of business and the leadership styles of people like Steve Jobs at Apple who by many accounts, despite being successful, is cast as a Tyrant, whereas Tim Cook who is now at the helm, is referred to as charismatic and thoughtful with a very different leadership style.

Accepting that you don’t know everything and that there are different ways of achieving the same result is one of the first steps to making you more accepting of others.

You can only change yourself 

Unless you are actively involved in trying to change and become better people (as you are now) it is not often that people actually change for the better.

Despite our best efforts people are always going to revert back to what they know and their default settings, therefore it’s worth remembering that all you can really do is show others the way but ultimately you have no control over what they do, you can only change yourself.

By adopting and modelling positive behaviours you can hopefully highlight the right path but whether or not they take it is up to them.

It’s also worth remembering tip 1 (you don’t know everything), so rather than focussing on trying to change others, focus your energy on self-improvement.

Look for the positives

This was something I learned as a coach when trying to deal with different players on my team and different personalities.

People respond differently in different situations and although some people may like the straight-talking, cut to the point, blunt analysis of their misgivings, most people do not.

Instead of focussing on why someone is different, or the negative things you don’t like about them, focus on their positives and what you do like about them.

Not accepting others is often a result of solely focussing on their negatives.

Stop judging a book by its cover

It’s easy to silently judge people that you meet without even thinking about it. Instead, fix your mindset and your thought process to stop doing this. Start to change your thoughts to a more accepting view and move away from judgemental thinking.

Avoid right/wrong 

In today’s world it’s easy to see the world as binary, you’re either right or you’re wrong and there’s no other option but that’s not the case and not how life works.

If you stop accepting your actions as right, and taking everyone else’s as wrong, then you will soon start to see that there are more ways of looking at things and other ways of doing things.

Put yourself in their shoes

This is a key aspect of accepting others and can take many different forms.

Reverse the situation and put yourself in their shoes.

How would you feel if someone was judging you and not accepting of you?

How would you feel if someone got on your back for no apparent reason?

How would you feel if someone were constantly focussing on your negatives and looking past your positives?

If you’re going to be more accepting of others its time you started to put yourself in their shoes and looked at it from the other side of the coin.

Final thoughts – Start with yourself

When it comes to accepting others it often comes back to accepting yourself first.

If you can learn to stop judging yourself and to let go of the past, focussing on the now, you can start to become more accepting of others for who they are and what they can offer.

Remember you’re not always right, you don’t know everything and other people have valid points too.

With that in your mind, you can start on your path to becoming a more accepting and caring person.

8 Tips to Increase Your Productivity

We can always be more productive, more energetic, and more focused. Having a plan and practicing daily management is key to optimising your productivity and winning every day.

The following is adapted from The 4 Keys.

We can always be more productive, more energetic, and more focused. Having a plan and practicing daily management is key to optimising your productivity and winning every day.

Fortunately, there are eight simple tips you can follow to increase your productivity that will leave you feeling empowered rather than drained:

Identify Your Productivity Style

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The way you schedule your day and attack productivity may be affected by the type of person you are. You may be process-driven, results-driven, consensus-driven, or image-driven, and the corresponding traits can help you in some cases and hold you back in others when it comes to managing your schedule for maximum productivity and goal management.

Whether you’re motivated by concern about how you appear to others or purely focused on achieving results, a procrastinator who spends too much time on process without taking any action or is so reflective that you’re stuck in the moment or is mostly concerned with the impact you have on other people, your style may or may not serve you.

Set Small Business Goals

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Each of The 4 Keys—business, body, relationships, and mindset—plays a role in your productivity. For your business goal, you can start your day by learning something new that’s in line with your vision for your work. Listen to a podcast, read a post, write a blog, or create a video.

Stay in Shape

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For your body key, get your heart rate up early in the day. Whether you’re training for a triathlon and you need to practise high-intensity endurance training, you’re brand new to trying to get in shape, or you’re somewhere in the middle, find the training that works for you.

It could be 20 minutes in the gym or on a run, or it could be a five- or ten-minute high-intensity interval training (HIIT) session. If you have a stationary bike, hop on for five or ten minutes and get your heart pounding before you jump in the shower. All the research shows that getting your heart rate up in the morning is good for your cognitive function and your mental health, as well as the physical benefits. Don’t forget nutrition too. Make sure you eat a healthful breakfast to fuel your body properly for the day ahead.

Maintain Your Relationships

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Healthy relationships make you feel more secure and supported, which in turn can help you be more productive. You can hit the relationship key by being present with your partner and children. Be thankful and loving towards them and let them know how much you value them. Pitch in and do your fair share regarding housework and parenting. Send your loved one an early morning text or leave a note to let them know you’re thinking of them.

Keep a Balanced Mindset

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For your mindset key, get into your calm, pregame state. Spend five minutes or longer deep-breathing or try a five-minute meditation – whatever works for you. Be aware of what causes you stress too. If a certain part of your commute causes a lot of frustration, see if there’s another route you can take. It may take longer to get to the office, but leaving a few minutes earlier each day may be worth it if you arrive in a calmer state of mind. Get calm, clear, focused, and mentally prepared to face your daily challenges.

Develop a Routine

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We’re all different, so develop a routine you can stick to that fits your lifestyle. Once this routine becomes habit, you’ll do it automatically. Try it for 21 days and you’ll see it gets easier as it becomes habitual, and you’ll also start seeing the benefits. If you hold on to the idea of hitting your four keys daily, you will move forward. If you take care of the days, the years will take care of themselves.

Work Within Productivity Periods

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Chunking your day into ‘periods’ helps you stay organised, makes it easier to stay on task with your objectives, and increases your productivity. I split my day into four periods. Period 1 is pre-8 a.m. During this time, hit at least one of The 4 Keys before you leave the house and then follow through with the rest of your morning routine.

Period 2 is 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. This and Period 3 comprise the prenoon chunks when you should focus on non-urgent tasks.

Period 3 is 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and, like Period 2, is reserved for important but non-urgent activities. This is where the hard work is.

Period 4 is noon onward. During this time, you need to identify what things you need to do, and by what time. Period 4 is reserved for urgent tasks that have to be completed. It’s also for those things you really enjoy doing or get the biggest sense of achievement from.

Add Apps to Your Toolkit

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Productivity apps are great. I used Minimalist for writing my book, following the Pomodoro method. Evernote, Asana, and Basecamp are useful project-management apps, particularly if you’re working collaboratively. They help keep you and your team on task and your projects well organised. For personal productivity, there are a range of apps that can help, like those that let you chunk your time into 90-minute intervals, or the 25/5 Pomodoro method, which involves working for 25 minutes, then taking a five-minute break.

By working these tips into your daily routine, you can enjoy a productivity boost with little extra stress.

For more advice on career performance, you can find The 4 Keys on Amazon.

Andrew Sillitoe is a business psychologist, author, and speaker. His innovative approach to leadership and work-life balance has earned him invitations to work with a range of global companies, including Pfizer, Nationwide, Virgin, and the BBC. Today Andrew runs the UK’s number-one training company for entrepreneurs and business owners who want to succeed in business, health, relationships, and mindset.

The 4 Keys on Amazon