Our Carson Partners recently participated in the Fundamental 50 Challenge led by a combination of our Carson Coaches and Carson Partners Consulting team.

Essentially, the challenge is designed to help advisors focus on improving those foundational business activities that lead to growth – things such as passion prospecting, asking for referrals, calling up prospects who have gone cold and delegation, among others.

But fundamental to the Fundamental 50 challenge was our participants engaging in personal development tasks. Each day, they were asked to complete nine tasks – four of which were personal development tasks like hydration (drinking at least 100 ounces of water), meditation or learning (actual meditation or reading something informative), journaling and intentional movement (stretching, walking or exercise).

And it might be tempting to write these things off as feel-good, frivolous activities, but they are actually foundational to success and favorable business outcomes.

We recommend some tangible ways to build a solid foundation of wellness practices to improve in four areas so that you can increase your productivity quotient for better business outcomes.

The Role of Hydration in Productivity

When you think foundational business decisions, you probably don’t think drinking water. But studies have found that dehydration – even mild dehydration – can negatively impact our cognitive function, memory, attention and psychomotor skills. Research from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that mild dehydration can impact people’s – in all age groups – ability to focus and recall information.

Bloomberg also reported that staying properly hydrated can actually boost worker productivity. And Medium further reported that even just a 1% drop in hydration could lead to a 12% drop in productivity. And if you’re facing a 3% to 4% drop in hydration, you can be up to 50% less productive.

While we recommended a blanket 100 ounces a day, PBS recommends that a more accurate number for you would be to take your body weight and divide it by two to arrive at the total ounces of water you should drink daily. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you could aim to drink around 80 ounces of water a day.

Some ways to set you up for better hydration (and thus productivity) we recommend are:

Reading for Personal Development

Executive Business Coach Tammy Breitenbach wrote that as advisors, you are constantly pouring into others – whether it’s your family or your clients. And in order to be at the top of your game, you need to pour into yourself, too.

Forbes reports that with our business and personal lives becoming increasingly intertwined, it’s critical to work on your own personal development for business success. But upping your personal development quotient isn’t oftentimes taught in business school.  That’s why you have coaches!

But until you are able to work one-on-one with a coach (and even when you do work with us), one tangible way to get started with this is to get started on some reading. We’re always recommending reading in our monthly LinkedIn newsletter. But we put together this list of books that we love that offer incredible takeaways to work on yourself for better decision-making and business acumen.

  • Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty. Jay Shetty gives readers guidance on how to go from operating with your “monkey mind” to your “monk mind” through journaling (we’re covering that in the next section), meditation and breathing techniques. The book is from his first-hand account of his journey from becoming a monk to leaving the ashram to offer these tools to the masses.
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book is a good one because no matter what your goals are, it teaches you how to build and use habits to reach them. Clear dives into how shifting the decisions you make daily can help you shift your life to reach the goals you’ve set.
  • The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. Our VP of Coaching, Sarah Cain, loves the framing this book uses to help advisors simplify and focus on one important task at a time to achieve their big-vision goal. Chunking out small tasks to the bigger goals in the way the authors advise to do can help advisors reach those goals faster.
  • Right Within: How to Heal from Racial Trauma in the Workplace by Minda Harts. This book is helpful for specifically women of color and offers tangible takeaways to implement in life to navigate the challenges unique to them. Harts gives first-hand experiences of how she handled situations and built her strength and courage. She shares helpful guidance for healing, such as seeking a therapist to help you overcome past workplace traumas and grow in your career.

We share reading recommendations for professional development every month in our Carson Coaching Chronicle LinkedIn Newsletter. Be sure to subscribe so you can get fresh picks every month!

Journaling Your Way to Clarity

You might argue that your time would be better spent on business activities tied to specific business goals versus journaling. But Forbes reports that journaling is actually a useful business activity.

The best thing about journaling is that all you need is a notebook and a pen. And Forbes reports that it’s not so much about the content of the journaling, but rather about bringing the energy and getting your ideas flowing. And how you journal depends on your preference – you can use more structured prompts or just free flow. Plus, you can choose what time of day works best for your journaling practice.

If you choose to do your journaling in the morning, Executive Business Coach J.J. Peller says a great way to go into the day is using the prompt, “What are three things you’re most excited about for the day?” and “How do I want to show up today in order to accomplish my goals?”

If you like to journal throughout the day, Executive Business Coach Michael Rose offers some tips for topics you can address, including, “Where am I not acting with integrity and authenticity?” or “In what circumstances am I judging other people?”

If you’d rather journal at night, that could actually be beneficial for your sleep. The Journal of Experiential Psychology found that jotting down your thoughts and specific to-dos can lead to higher-quality sleep.

Entrepreneur reported that journaling can help you in organizing your thoughts, generating ideas and becoming more self-aware.

Intentional Movement for Success

Harvard Business Review found that daily physical activities contributed positively to work-related outcomes the following day. It helps you get better sleep, gives you increased energy and (most importantly) increases your focus, attention and concentration.

But don’t think of physical activities as “exercise,” simply think of them as movement. Shape reported that doing so can help people abandon the “all-or-nothing” mentality that is typically associated with the word “exercise.”

And we recognize that. For our Fundamental 50 Challenge participants, we recommended at least 30 minutes of “intentional movement,” and added this can be a walk, a stretch session, some Zumba or a run. However you want to move, choose something you enjoy. You don’t have to train for a marathon or flip tires across the parking lot. It doesn’t have to be about anything else other than doing something fun. Shape recommended picking movement you enjoy, because it’s more likely you’ll stick to doing it because you’ll look forward to it.

And while you might think that movement isn’t a key factor in business success, Forbes reported otherwise. Forbes noted that in addition to the good sleep and increased focus, movement also helps you build discipline and consistency.

Tying it All Together

Your effectiveness in achieving your business goals ties back to your brain – whether that be your ability to solve problems, your emotional intelligence, your memory or your persistence in working towards a goal and overcoming obstacles. And working on these three areas can lead to better brain function and focus, which in turn can help you make better decisions and lead to better productivity.

It’s easy to write off these things as unnecessary, but research has found these elements mentioned above are actually foundational to success.

So to us, it’s pretty straightforward: If you want to have the best chance at achieving your big business goals, you need to make sure to build a solid foundation of health and well-being.

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