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On living a mentally fulfilling life with Pawel - Business Analyst at SoftServe

January 14, 2020

Usually, business analysts are caught with dreadful reports and screens full of query codes. It seems like the numbers eat up their life until they exhaust themselves and break down. That just proves that Pawel Stelmach is not a typical business analyst, at least not like I imagined when first getting in touch with him. Having over 30 habits on his plate, Pawel is often found busy juggling between healthy activities, self-development acts and professional tasks. 

Everyone, meet Pawel from beautiful Poland!

Pawel, could you share some typical habits as a business analyst?

Of course, Alan! I usually focus on habits related to my health and self-development. When it comes to the former, I try to drink enough water, do push-ups (sometimes other exercise), stretching, HIIT and meditate. 

HIIT is too hard for me because the entrance barrier is too high. Push-ups, on the other hand, are pretty easy to take up and follow regularly.

Exercise sessions are often followed by a cold shower, which I try to do every day if I’m not sick.

As for self-development activities, reading is the most important for me. I started with only 15 minutes daily, but now I can do it 1 hour non-stop, most often with audio books. Other than that, I will spend time learning a new language, writing 3 positive things daily or doing a daily review. 

What is your philosophy for forming and tracking habits?

It is easy as a piece of cake to say “I want to grow, I want to be healthy, I want to be professional”, but really, the hardest part is to break that saying down into small, recurring steps that are traceable and executable, and to follow them every day. It’s all about making tiny steps towards a better life. Even habits like preparing my own meals, cleaning up my room or getting rid of unwanted stuff count. 

I use a habit tracker like Habitify to remind myself to do stuff that’s important to me. With the app in my pocket, I won’t forget about those little steps during the busiest season. Gradually, they will become a part of me and it will feel strange not doing those activities. 

Why did you choose to use a habit app instead of, say, pen and paper? Why Habitify in particular?

I always look for apps, so that I don’t have to waste time figuring things out. 

The great thing about Habitify is that it’s on both iOS and Android so I can sync between 2 platforms seamlessly. Habitify has the ability to sum up numbers monthly (or 30 days or other intervals). Sometimes I don’t want to track a habit, and Habitify just gives me more visibility into how often I am at the stuff I am tracking (like eating less sweets).

For me, didn’t have the basic stuff and had unnecessary social stuff (plus not easy way to check of my habits). Habitica had too much geeky stuff and not clean enough UI because of that (in some way it had what I needed and more - just too much, and hidden under fluff - in the end it is also about how unintrusive the app is and not how much it offers = how much of your life it takes).

You mentioned “How often you do stuff”. Why is that metric so important to you?

People are bad at judging such things in a monthly and yearly perspective. The irrational feeling of how much you do stuff is just not true.

So you might want to turn something into a habit, and might think that you are doing it and skipping it "sometimes" but hard stats will tell you "no pal, you're lying to yourself".

For the things that are most important to me, like reading or writing 3 positive things, I want to do them everyday and not skip (which later end up 30/30 days a month, so boring!). For other things I want to be able to skip, so not to exert any pressure on my myself.

In fact, during the whole month I rarely stress myself on doing those things. But in the end I want to face the truth - did I reach the threshold I set out for myself or not. If not, then I might decide that it is not the right time for this habit (like learning a new language) or that I must react and take some corrective actions.

In many cases like with reading books, it isn't really important (at the beginning) "the what" that you're reading. It is the habit that matters. The habit is strong and will stay forever because you spent time building it with high frequency, eliminating barriers, working on proper triggers. You might read harder books, but soon it will feel easier through time. After a few years, I've turned from a person who did not like to read books that much, to a person that reads a few books every month, reads daily, and actually I prefer (and feel it in my gut, honestly) sitting or walking with a book to binge-watching YouTube.

Could you share some productivity tips you’ve learned for yourself?

First, if you’re a beginner, then don’t do what I do. The number of habits will overwhelm you. Pick one to three and work on them individually (and seriously think about what could be the trigger for your habit, so that you always do this habit when the trigger happens).

Can you give an example of a good trigger that has helped you with your habits?

Oh yeah definitely. Good triggers for are in morning routine, because one action can lead to another:

  • Wake up early, don't hit snooze
  • First thing, go for a walk in the apartment (and drink water afterwards)
  • After I’m warmed up, I go for a walk with my dog
  • When I’m back home, I take a shower
  • The cold shower is challenging enough, so I reward yourself with good coffee and/or a meal afterwards

And another habit tip?

Pick your “keystone” habit. It can either be workout (push-ups, walking, running...) or reading/learning; if you do those regularly, then after some time you will have enough momentum to add more to your list. 

Remember, it is more important to do things regularly, than to do big things all at once.
Some things will be hard, you won’t like it, you will start to avoid it. Trick yourself a bit. Ask yourself a question, how you can make them easier, how you can make them more likable. If you build a positive association with the act and have reflex of smiling when thinking about it (Have a good visualization of the reward connected with activity, of what good it does for you! Be precise, be visual, and don’t be abstract like “I’ll try to save the world”, cause it won’t have the same effect on you), then it means that you’re on the right path. You will prepare a good mindset that will allow you to stay with the routine and increase the dosage. If you hate doing it everyday, then one day you will stop and never look back.

Find out how Habitify helps you build better habits to live your best life.

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