After recently beginning to build new habits for my life, I asked the question "Would anyone else like to hear more about the how-to I will be using in the process." Sure enough a lot of people quickly mentioned that they were interested and well now here you have this next blog post as a result!
Okay firstly let me just quickly explain why I chose the image above to go along with this post. It really depicts my approach to habit building perfectly! In order to go from the idea of new habits (Dot 1) to living and breathing them with ease (Dot 21) it takes a number of individual small steps to get you there. Now I know you may be thinking you've heard this all before and yep you probably have! But it is important to remember and fully embrace the concept. It is very easy to be excited for a day or two and write up this whole new vision and approach for your life, but to keep that vision alive each and every day, to get through the tough and gruelling parts, to resist temptation and resistance, and make it achievable; a good plan for the process is required!
So where to start? First of all, start with the question "why start?" Now, to me this is a quick and easy question to answer; are the habits you're currently living by serving you, are you seeing them take you towards a path you desire for yourself? If they are already then you may not need to change a thing. Or as much as your habits are seeing you move forward into the direction you desire, you may want to take it a step further and get even more out of life! The whole idea for building new habits has to start with you first, once you are being productive with your life and with your time, then you can begin building further new habits "for others"; but remember you can't poor from an empty cup, so get yourself right to help others be alright! A common mistake we can all make at times is changing habits at others request and I can let you know from experience that this is not sustainable. The desire for change needs to come from within and the 'why' needs to evolve from within you. If you have your strong 'why' in place then you will be able to get through the process of breaking the old habits and establishing the new. It's definitely never easy so the reason has to be strong!
The List Step one. Make a list of a number of habits that you honestly know are not serving you in your life, habits that aren't taking you another step forward each and every time, habits that perhaps you never use to have or do in the amount that you are now, or perhaps positive habits that you used to follow frequently but aren't anymore. It is not to say you have been wrong for doing things the way you have been, but rather look at it as you have been learning the art of balance and understanding what ultimately serves you in the current/next chapter of your life. I personally came up with a list of 18 habits I wanted to make a change on. 18 habits I knew I needed to re-establish in my life to lead me towards a direction I want/need for myself (Some of the items were quite similar). Honestly if I didn't feel the need to make changes on these 18 habits I simply wouldn't have listed them. Anything that you know/think/feel is right and okay in your life, run with that, eventually you will learn for sure if you were right or wrong from your own individual experiences. Now, your list can be as small or as big as you want, you can choose 5 habits or you can choose 25 habits, it's up to you and where you are at. What is more important is the plan you create for implementing these changes into your life! And that brings us to step two.
Implementing the changes and introduction of new habits systematically and periodically. If you are a person that achieves habits going "cold turkey", meaning that you make all the necessary changes effective immediately, then go for it, there is nothing wrong with that approach, as long as it works for you and you don't go backwards on your habits a week later, all good you are on your way to achievement. If you know that you don't work effectively making instant changes in your life and then sticking with these changes, you make like to try my approach; which is planning out a periodised plan to introduce the new habits over a designated time. What does that mean? It's simple, I wanted to make some big changes within the next four weeks but I knew it would be too big a task to introduce the 18 new habits all at once. So what I did was I took my list of the 18 new habits I wanted to implement and decided in order which habits I wanted to establish first and which habits to implement last. With this list I then placed each one of them into a calendar. I place them systematically so that I had a chance to ween myself off some similar habits and also allow the starting of new habits to help tackle some of the tougher new habits when the time comes. I have place these habits across four weeks. Once I get to the end of the four weeks I will then look to assess where I am at and build on the existing habits. For me the gradual improvement is what is key, I am now approaching my life as a marathon, not a sprint, sustainability is key now!
Still seem too simple? Well, realistically making changes are simple, it's just our attachment to each habit that is hard to throw off. Okay so, the next important step for me was to create something physical for my vision of change, something I could create and see easily and often! So I started first with drawing up my own calendar onto paper with a pen and ruler and writing my list in a hand drawn table with columns to the right of the list, added to then become a check list. The checklist is to enable you to tick off the success of each habit and continue to have something physical with you during the process; old school? Yes, but super effective! Could I have done it all on a computer faster and better presented? Heck yes, but I knew I needed to start spending some time towards the process of moving into these new habits, so that is why I went old school and put these habits out in the open, on show for others passing by and into physical existence. I suggest you might like to try a similar concept, it is super effective!
Simplify The Process
The next part of the process is to make the new habits easier to achieve. The easier you can make the execution of each habit the more likely you are to achieve it and stick to it! For example my new habit of making sure I achieve drinking 3L of water each day as a minimum, the first step I took was to find a bottle that gave me a measurement of how many millilitres I was drinking with each bottle and therefore how many bottles I needed to drink each day to achieve the goal of 3L. For example if you have a 1L bottle, you now know you need to get down 3 of them a day to achieve the new habit. Some people even just buy one big bottle that fits their entire days worth of water consumption in it, such as a 3L or 4L bottle. Simplifying the processes as much as possible in order to correctly and easily implement the new habit is important.
So, time management... now making new habits or taking away old habits may mess with your time management for each day. So here is how I started on my time management process. I simply started the new goals on the days/dates I had them scheduled in to begin, regardless of how they interfered with my daily time management. In other words, if starting the new habit of daily exercise interfered with something else already in my day, well too bad so sad, because to me implementing the new habit was superior to other usage of my time. As I begin to implement each new habit along the way I will begin to see how much time I have left for the other things in life that I was already doing, and some of the old activities may disappear all together! However, in order to get going on the new habits I knew I had start them straight away and treat them as priority, and then deal with any repercussions accordingly. Long story cut short, starting the new habits didn't actually have any negative impact on my daily timing or scheduling anyway; most excuses we have for ourselves are complete B.S. In conclusion on this subject, time management is as simple as this; schedule your priorities first into your days plan and then with what ever time you have left you can spend it on the things that aren't your priority. Wherever there is a will there is a way!
Knowledge Is Power Next step for anyone who isn't currently educated sufficiently on any of their new habits is to do some study and research and/or get advice from someone with the know how. For example if you don't know how to start and build on your new habit to exercise, look into it, read up on it, ask questions or employ a professional. By acquiring the right knowledge it can make achieving your new habit so so much easier. At the end of the day you want to make the process as smooth and easy as possible. There is no need to go through anything harder than it needs to be or harder than it should be.
Next step for me is this; no compromise, no exceptions! This approach may not be for you, and that is fine, but it works best for me and I believe it will serve many others well into the future. What does it mean? It means there are no cheat days from the habits. I don't follow the habits I want for myself six days a week and then throw them out on the seventh day as a cheat day. For me it's a daily decision for your life. Decide how you wish to fulfil the next 24hrs of your life and approach it the same way every day. For me it is too easy to break a habit once and quickly slip back into your old habit full time again. In particular if you have an addictive personality, stick to the habit full time so you don't run the risk of losing your habit from one simple break of it.
Share Your Journey Last step which may help you, is to share your journey with others, much like what I am doing here with this blog post etc. However be careful not to come across to be preaching to others, just share your experiences, ideas and put out positive vibrations into the world (I only say this to protect you from being hurt by others potential input in the process of sharing your journey, keep it personal and simple). Nothing is absolutely right and everyone is going to respond and act differently; however by you sharing your own journey, you may just help give someone else the boost they needed to improve some habits in their own life. Enjoy the process and embrace the struggle as you leave your old habits and enjoy the benefits that come along with each of the new habits!
Finally I wish you all the strength you will need in making any significant growth in your life. I know how painful, how testing it can be, but also I know how rewarding it is once the changes are in full effect! With great sacrifice comes great reward. There is a lot more I could write about and share but lets start with this, get going, keep it simple and we can dive into further conversation once stage one is in real motion.
Hope you enjoyed the read and the ideas included. What ever way you can find to work for you, go get it and keep me posted on how you're going, I would love to know!!!