We hear a lot about habits this time of year. Starting the good, ending the bad, tips, tricks. Whether it’s “10 Healthy Habits to Kick Off 2020” or “Break Your Bad Habits in The New Year.” Believe me, I’m all for these things. I believe there are many strategies to set yourself up for success.
And to really solidify your change for the better, you need to assess and improve your habits. For example, if you make a habit of carving out just one hour or 4% of each day for personal development can pay off in huge ways for your career and home life. That one hour a day COMPOUNDED day after day for a year or decade can literally rewire the software in your brain!
Turn On Those Good Habits
When you think about your good habits, I bet certain things come to mind – exercise, eating a healthy breakfast, paying off your credit card in full. But there’s a lot more than those “big ticket” good habits. What about prioritizing self care? Taking 30 minutes a day to sit in silence with no technology. What about being nice to people, holding doors open and say “after you”, everyday completing one random act of kindness? That was getting “switched on” is all about. Switching on yourself so you can switch on others!
Your day is made up of countless good habits, you may not even notice are part of your routine. By acknowledging all your daily good habits, you are taking an important step in turning off autopilot and becoming more present in your life.
Confront the Bad Habits
And then there’s those pesky bad habits. I’m sure just by saying it, the major ones in your life pop into your head immediately – smoking or dipping tobacco, eating fried food, drinking soda, speeding, using your cell phone in your car not hands free
Acknowledging and then confronting the (sometimes brutal) facts about those bad habits, head on, is an important way to instill change.
Note Your Middle Ground Habits
But there’s a third component to habits, one that perhaps is as flashy a headline. Let’s call it the middle ground habits. Those that are most likely to propel us into a rut. Maybe individually, they don’t seem like much, but all together, it’s what might be taking you down the wrong path.
Obviously if you eat donuts every day for breakfast, you probably know that’s a bad habit. Say instead you have a green smoothie every morning for breakfast – generally you would see this as a good habit. But take it a little deeper, how do you consume your breakfast. Are you generally on the run, eating at your desk while going through emails? There are times when that’s necessary, but is that your daily routine? Even if you’re consuming the best possible meal, if you’re pairing it with distractions or stress, you’re not getting the full benefit of that good habit.
Here’s Another Example:
How many times a day do you check your phone? Recent research shows 52 times a day! That’s a habit we’re barely conscious of, but I’m sure you know it’s a lot. Now how many times do you glance at your phone when you’re talking to another human being? Think hard. Does the answer make you cringe? Suddenly it’s the first thing you do in the morning, first thing you do when you park your car. What are you missing when your head is down and your thoughts are on your emails, tasks and online persona?
Another item to check is what apps do you have the home screen of your phone? Do you have time wasting apps like games, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook? I used to spend too much time on Twitter. I decided an easy way to improve my habits was to move it off my home screen. My usage declined quickly. I moved my Podcast app Pocket Casts to the home screen and it makes it easier to live my “positive podcast a day” habit.
“We do not decide our futures, we decide our habits and our habits decide our futures.”
Each day is built of habits, good, bad and in between. The more stale the habit, the more likely you will find yourself in a rut. So here’s an exercise:
Step 1: Think through your day. From the moment you wake up until you fall asleep. Write down every little thing you do, every mundane task, every regular move. Every… you guessed it… habit.
Step 2: Look over your list and categorize each habit as good, bad or in between.
Step 3: Out of your bad habits, select one you absolutely will change. A streak starts with one. Once you’ve mastered that, take on the next, and so on and so forth.
Step 4: Look at your “in between” habits. An easy fix is to improve your habits, turning insignificant ones into something great? Are any of them unnecessary and you can eliminate them?
Step 5: Finally, look at your “good habits.” And see if there’s even more room for improvement. We can always push ourselves to be better. Turn your good habits into great!
By taking toll of all your habits on a regular basis, you can find areas to improve, eliminate and augment. Writing them down and checking things off the list, you’ll not only find yourself more likely to avoid being stuck in a rut, but you’ll feel better, work harder and be more present with those around you.
Want to really commit to improvement? Share your habits in the comments below to solidify your goals and inspire others! Remember that a STREAK STARTS WITH ONE! You can change quicker than you think with one decision. Do not underestimate the impact of one new habit on your life.