I’m on a flight right now and eating homemade scrambled eggs, sautéed spinach and kale, cut up bell peppers and cucumbers with cherry tomatoes.
I do this every flight out of town.
On the other hand, I’m sitting next to Ed McMuffin Man. Have you seen him?
Right now he’s inhaling an Egg McMuffin, two hash browns, and washing it down with a jumbo Diet Coke. Diet, of course.
Does that make me better?
Well… I’ll let you be the judge.
Get to the Point
The point is we’re both on the 1st day of a business travel trip and we both made an anchor decision on how we’re starting off our trip.
He’s now in a coma while his phone is still on playing a movie. It’s not pretty.
I’m choosing to write. Again, you are the judge.
Unknowingly, he’s making decisions that are setting the tone for the rest of his trip.
I see this kind of guy ALL of the time when I travel. And there’s a reason he’s overweight, marginally effective, and lacks energy.
His premise is what he calls False Starts, are MORE due to WHEN than WHAT.
If we do certain activities at the wrong time no matter if they’re the right activities, they simply will not have as strong as results.
For example, the 1st day of the year, or month, or week are what social scientists often call a “temporal landmark.”
Just as we use landmarks to guide us as a visual marker, we leverage these “Stand Out Days” from what Daniel Pink calls, “the ceaseless and forgettable march of other days and their prominence helps us find our way.”
Research to Prove It
In 2014, three scholars from the Wharton School of the University of Penn published this breakthrough paper in the science of timing that opened up our eyes to the understanding of the use of temporal landmarks and how we can leverage them for new beginnings or fresh starts.
These scholars analyzed 8.5 years of Google searches. They found that certain word searches spiked dramatically on key “fresh start days” and triggered a predictable motivation in people.
Daniel Pink noted there are two types of Temporal Landmarks: Social and Personal
1. Social – those everyone shared: Mondays / New Month / New Quarter / Holidays
2. Personal – unique to the individual: Birthdays / Anniversaries / Job Changes
Interestingly, two things happened whether social or personal temporal landmarks were used:
1. They allowed people to open “new mental accounts” in the same way a business closes the books at the end of one year and opens new books in the next year. It’s a break from the past mistakes and imperfections and leaves us confident about “what could be”. Key Marker: New Years Day or Birthday.
2. They also interrupt attention to the everyday minutiae causing people to take a big picture view of their lives and focus on achieving their goals.
As the Wharton scholars concluded, “People can strategically create turning points in their personal histories.”
I call this concept Anchor Days and here’s my definition of an Anchor Day:
“Key behaviors done on a specific date to serve as a kickstart for a period of time”
The power is in the word: ANCHOR.
What does an anchor do? The trusty dictionary defines an anchor as “A device used to prevent the craft from drifting (due to wind or current).”
We’re the Craft in the analogy and the drift is ANYTHING that takes us where we DON’T want to go!
You think about an Anchor. When it drops and takes hold, you don’t go anywhere or anywhere soon.
And since we’re notorious for drifting especially if we don’t start out strong hence the Power of an Anchor Day.
Let’s break down the key aspects of an Anchor Day…
There are THREE Key Aspects of an Anchor Day to be effective and be powerful:
1. Set Date – there must be a CLEAR starting date – This is the WHEN – a “specific day”
2 Catalyst Behavior – Key actions you need to do – This is the WHAT
3. Specific Triggers – reminders or cues / IF this, THAN that = WHERE
All three aspects are critical for an effective Anchor Day that gives you sustainable energy and incredible results.
Ideally, you combine the specific day/catalyst behaviors / specific triggers into a plan to make the most of the Anchor Day.
Anchor Days require Intention and Discipline.
They don’t “just happen”.
Did you catch that?
Anchor Days require Intention and Discipline.
You must INTEND to do them and they cause you to exert effort which requires discipline.
But the payoffs are absolutely huge.
So few people do them that when you create and implement an Anchor Day you’re already in a very elite group of high performers who are living with an Energy Edge.
Now, the goal is to find what potential days could be your own Temporal Landmarks and for business travelers, there is an obvious one.
Here are my own personal on-going anchor days on a consistent basis:
2. New Month
3. New Quarter
4. 1st day of a business trip
Now, if you’re a business traveler there is an obvious one. Let me drill down on one that makes the biggest impact for me on a consistent basis:
My work is business travel a majority of the time and every trip has one major thing in common: the 1st day.
As a result, having an Anchor Day is absolutely key for me.
I’ve learned through the years the MOST IMPORTANT day of business travel for me is the 1ST day of the trip.
It’s rather simple. Because how the 1st day goes, the rest of my trip usually goes. A creature of habit.
If I can establish an “anchor” of certain behaviors on my 1st day, they will be my anchor keeping me grounded for the rest of the trip.
On the flip side, I witness first-hand business travelers with shallow or no anchors and their 1st day of the business trip is inconsistent and all over the place.
And I’ve learned, once the train leaves the station, or in my case, the plane leaves the airport, I need to work my Anchor Day Plan.
Not going to be THAT guy anymore. Sorry Ed McMuffin Man (not really).
So, let’s work through the three aspects of an Anchor Day in my example of a Road Warrior:
Set Date – 1st day of my business travel – this is my WHEN
Catalyst Behaviors – What I EAT / How I MOVE / When I Sleep
And here are some examples for me personally:
1. Taking my Breakfast with me – I no longer leave this chance (AND if I have a healthy breakfast I’m FAR more likely to have a healthy lunch/dinner)
2. Movement – When I choose to stand more than sit, walk every chance I can, and get at least a few minutes of exercise no matter what and where I will feel so much better
3. Develop – I make sure I carve some time to develop both professionally and personally (which usually means reading)
4. Connect/Check in with Home – this is done by early morning videos/audio/text messages so my family has them from me before they even wake up
5. Rest – Early Bed Time – this is SO key the 1st day because most of the time I have an early flight and changing time zones
Now, remember, after the Set Date and Catalyst Behavior, is the 3rd aspect of the Anchor Day which is…
Specific Triggers – reminders or cues / IF this, THAN that = WHERE
Water bottle / Tupperware / snack bag out the night before
Apple Watch alarms – stand/drink water
Book in my work bag on the flight
What This Means to You…
What if you created your own Anchor Day on business travel? You have the same thing in common as me that every trip has a 1st day.
Here’s the challenge, what behaviors could be a catalyst for the rest of your trip’s success?
And what triggers could you put in place to make them a reality?
Let me give you some key areas:
Movement (standing/walking / working out)
Personal and/or Professional Development
Checking in back home
The Challenge – Find a way to leverage the 1st day of your trip focusing on catalyst behaviors and creating specific triggers to make it happen. You got this.