How to build your own rock solid habits
Successful Habits: The idea that habits form our daily living, the good parts and the bad isn’t really news to us.
[Read Time: 8 Min]
The idea that habits form our daily living, the good parts and the bad isn’t really news to us.
Another piece of information that barely shocks us, is that time seems to magnify whatever you feed it.
Good habits will make time your ally, bad habits will make time your enemy.
Now, it seems that we are all on the same page here, we know what to do…
Just pick good habits, right? Sounds simple, then why don’t we still do things we wished we didn’t?
It seems as if the problem is not a lack of information, it’s not a lack of knowing. It’s a lack of action.
That’s why today, we are going to take a little bit of a different approach, we are going to form a habit for you right now. Yep, right now. So, if you were planning on skimming over this in the next 2 minutes as your kettle boils, think again, this is going to be at least a 10-minute process. Buckle up.
But first, a little framing.
Goals are cool, they keep us accountable, especially if take the time to understanding our why and develop a strong connection and meaning behind them.
But what happens to our mindset in space between now and completing our goals?
And what happens once we finally reach our goals?
If we aren’t currently at our goal, that means we are always going to be behind it, reaching for it. We are forever unhappy thinking about it because, well… How can we be happy if we haven’t completed it yet?
Once we reach that illustrious goal, then what? To we just pat ourselves on the back and go back to whatever we were doing before? The cycle continues…
Excitement of setting goal -> short period of motivation -> dull feeling of anticipation in the lead up to our goal -> moment of ecstasy once we reach it -> return to dull feeling knowing now we are just back to square one…
Now I’m not intending to bash goals here.
Goals can be useful; they can help us create clarity about what we want. They have their place.
To truly achieve success, what we REALLY need is a good system in place so that the goal becomes inevitable. It will just be the outcome of us following and partaking in the processes of our everyday lives (our habits).
To make that a little clearer, here is a common example in sport of why focusing on habits is probably more important than just goals alone.
In any sport, the goal is to be the team or player with the best score at the end of the game. Imagine for a second that you spent every minute of that game looking up at the scoreboard watching it, waiting for it to change, would that help you in any way? Probably not.
In contrast, if you decided to just ignore the scoreboard and focus on your system or style of play. Direct your attention to the processes that you have been working on at training over the last few weeks, you can be confident that if you do these things well, the score will take care of itself.
Avoid setting goals to just “win” the game. Look to build systems, so you can continue to “play” the game.
The journey is the destination, when you focus on enjoying the process. The goal will take care of itself.
Okay now onto the fun part. Let’s build some habits.
I’m going to leave it up to you to sort out what you think you need in your life, who am I to tell you how to live. Pick one that suits you, if none seem valuable, do your best to take the principles of any of them and apply it to your specific situation.
Here are a few habits that I have created for myself over this last year, habits that I think everyone can benefit from, you don’t have to do all 3 at once but here are some options.
- Making better food choices, even when I don’t feel like it (less mindless snacking).
- Getting straight out of bed in the morning, instead of lying there, scrolling social media.
- Reading a book for 15 minutes every day.
They all seem very simple, and that’s because they are. Simple however, doesn’t necessarily mean easy.
I’m sure you’ve tried one or all of them a few times over the last few years, here’s how I think we can work together to cement them into your daily living. Let’s get cracking.
Making better food choices, even when I don’t feel like it (less mindless snacking).
How are we going to beat this one? It might take a little bit of work, but we can do it, let me explain.
How? We are going to re-arrange your current cupboard/fridge. Not seen, not heard.
This means that you are either going to throw out all the food that you don’t want, OR if you don’t want to do that, we are going to move it into spots that make it tedious to get to, and then EVER TIME you buy something that fits into this category of things you want to start eating less of, you put it in this spot.
For me, I’m a sucker for potato chips. My pantry is stacked with them, BUT to outsmart future hunger-boredom Seaton, I have put them out of reach. Standing at a measly 5’10” placing all those delicious chips on the top shelf (all the way at the back) means that to actually get my hands on a packet, I need to pull a chair out from the kitchen table and use it as a boost.
Increasing the time taken to complete the task of mindless snacking means that I have more opportunity to think and process my fatal decision; to eat a whole packet of chips (you can never just have one chip) over a potentially better choice.
So off you go, you have 5 minutes to go re-arrange your pantry or fridge. Put the things you want to be eating in sight, and create a barrier for those things you want to avoid. Seriously, go right now. I’ll be here when you get back, promise.
Issue: Mindless snacking
Solution: Create a physical barrier for the decision
Getting straight out of bed in the morning, instead of lying there on your phone
This is one that I know all of us have been victim of in some way or another, and I’m not saying you always have to be a morning person but IF it is something you want to be, here what I can offer in regards to a solution.
“Do something that your future self will be thankful for”
How? You are going to plug your phone in somewhere that forces you to get up to switch it off. As in it needs to be far enough that the covers HAVE to come off, for you to silence that horrible, ear piercing noise.
Another layer to this habit is to turn off all internet/Wi-Fi at night BEFORE you go to bed, that way there will be no tempting notifications on the screen first thing in the morning. Giving yourself more control of when you first see the meaningless things on social media from the 7 hours everyone was asleep in will ease your temptation to scroll. P.S. If you are worried about people needing to contact you, if it’s an emergency, they will call.
Okay go on then, go find a new spot for your phone to sit while you sleep, this one should take no time at all. Come on, shoo. Find another power point.
Issue: Alarm snoozer
Solution: Create a physical barrier for the decision
Reading a book for 15 minutes a day.
This one easy in theory, but why can we never find the time? 15 minutes isn’t that long, is it?
You just need to start. 15 minutes is a relatively short length of time, but 2 minutes is even shorter.
So, let’s start with 2, just 2 minutes, you can do that right? Well then off you go, you ’ve got 2 minutes go read that book you’ve been putting off for 2 minutes. No more, no less. Bye for now.
Oh, welcome back, cool. Now you know how easy it is to read for 2 minutes, you know the feeling. This is what you are going to use to remind yourself of every time you feel like you don’t have the time, or that reading is too hard.
Whenever you think that you can’t be bothered with 15-minutes, reframe it. Don’t aim for 15, aim for 2. IF you happen to get a few minutes in to your book and you find that you enjoy it or time has just flown by that’s awesome, keep going.
If the issue in itself is that you are never reminded to read your book, lets use a few the opposite style tactic to what we did with our first two habits, find a spot in your room/study/wherever you prefer to read so that you see it OFTEN, every day often.
Issue: Trouble getting started
Solution: Reframe the habit length
And for those of you not sold on 15minutes of reading a day as a potentially useful habit, or that 15-minutes surely isn’t enough to actually be useful.
Just to remind you again, here is the maths (if you’ve seen this before, please skip ahead in case its wrong).
365 days in a year, 15minutes a day of reading (365 x 15 = 5,475 minutes a year).
The average reading speed is 2minutes per page (5,475 ÷ 2 = 2,737 pages a year).
The average book length is 300 pages (2,737 ÷ 300 = 9 books a year).
9 books a year. Let’s say you missed a day or two here and there, reading a total of 8 books a year is unreal.
That’s potentially 8 people’s life work crammed into those pages, their years of experience and education stuffed into a small rectangular paper thing of goodness.
If you have made it this far, good on you. Your intention is great and it seems that you want to make a change. Also, judging by the length of this blog you are already bought into the idea and because of that, I can be pretty confident that whatever habit you chose to add, it will stick.
So, thank you for reading. If you are successful in anyway or on the flipside, are still having trouble, don’t be afraid to reach out to me on social media, I don’t bite. I would love to hear about the ways you have adapted these ideas into your own life.
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