Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur, a career professional, a student or even unemployed, your habits are either empowering you to achieve and succeed, or deterring and holding you back. For most of us, we’re limited by our habits. We have habits that hold us back and can’t seem to quit. But for others, who possess a repertoire of really good habits, success and goal achievement is more automatic and easily realized. The truth? The state and quality of your life is a direct reflection of the habits that you possess. Good habits are going to propel you forward while those pesky bad habits are going to hold you back. But if you’re serious about success and want to get ahead in life, these are some of the best habits that you can harbour. Focus on these, and watch your life blossom while you realize the fruits of your labour.
Keep in mind that several studies suggest that habits account for nearly half of all of our actions. From what we think, to what we say and what we do are controlled by the habits that we possess. So, the more that you can focus on improving your habits, the better you’ll be at doing things like growing your business, achieving your goals, getting a great degree, losing weight or even making an abundant amount of money.
Of course, this isn’t just about building the good habits, but also about disrupting your bad habits. Disruption is how you block the electrical impulses to continually wield those bad habits. It takes some conscious training and persistent application to do this, but there are a few strategies you can implement to disrupt your bad habits.
Many habits we do without thinking, such as brushing our teeth or saying Please and Thank you, or putting our seat belts when we get in the car, these are good positive habits that free our minds to think on more critical matters during the day.
Why bad habits?
Usually, it is because we want the immediate gratification of our base instincts and desires. Many times we act without thinking, overcome by emotion, and irrationally lead by our weaknesses rather than our strengths.
The problem is that when we indulge in these bad habits, they seem to multiply over time, and the results are a disaster. Some bad habits are so small that we think them inconsequential and not necessary. The truth is that even the slightest change in our daily routines can change the outcomes dramatically.
Small habits have a way to grow until they are tough to change and can take us far away from our desired goals. They become big trees that are extremely difficult to uproot.
With that in mind, consider these five steps for getting started:
Initiate a ‘ridiculously small’ micro habit
It usually takes my workshop participants between three and eight tries before they come up with something sufficiently small enough to be considered a micro habit. When I tell them reading for an hour each night is too large, they then change to reading for 45 minutes, then 30 minutes, and so on. Finally, I tell them, “You will know you’ve truly reached the level of a micro habit, when you say, ‘That’s so ridiculously small, it’s not worth doing’” — in this case reading only one paragraph each night. In our coaching groups, participants only get credit for achieving the minimum bar, not going beyond it. Aim for small.
Repeat Repeat Repeat
The benefit of micro habits is that you should be able to perform it with minimal effort every day. It’s important to execute on a new ritual daily so it becomes second nature, and if it’s small enough, you won’t be as tempted to defer your task from one day to the next. However, no matter the size of the task, it’s easy to get distracted, make excuses, or forget. Perform your new action at the same time as (or right before) an action you do without thinking. Need to read a paragraph each night? You can do that while brushing your teeth.
Follow your progress closely
As the saying goes, “What gets measured, gets done.” Again, if your measurement process is elaborate, you’re less likely to complete it. Write down the desired action and under each date, simply list a ‘Y’ or ‘N’ to indicate if you completed the task. People discover surprising benefits to the Yes List, including detecting patterns when they’re likely to advance or regress in their efforts.
Maintain the rhythm
It’s hard to think small to begin with; it’s even harder to stay small. For example, let’s say Jake’s micro habit was to do 2 push-ups a day. After earning 10 Y’s in a row on his Yes List, Jake was eager to do more. For the next two days, he did five push-ups, soon pushing up the number to 10 and then adding a 20-minute workout after. The sad result? Within two months, Jake would give up exercising due to the simple fact that he had enlarged his goals unrealistically fast. You have to stick with your original micro habit long enough when you feel bored with it for at least 2 weeks in a row. Then increase it only by about 10%.
Accountability is key
It might sound strange to enlist a partner to monitor your daily reading of one paragraph or doing two push-ups. But having people support you and hold you accountable can cement new behaviours, and it helps them in return. The leadership program mentioned above has a peer group meeting every other week, and participants send a report of their micro habits weekly, updating the group on progress by stating how many days of the week they performed it. When you want to change behaviour, jumping headlong into a major goal with both feet is often a waste of time. Instead, make tiny, incremental adjustments until they are part of your muscle memory. By starting small, you can attain big results.
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