Forming Good Habits [3 Secrets]
Your Habits are a Reflection of Your Mind
Forming good habits can feel impossible… if you don’t have the right mindset, it won’t be easy to overcome. Developing bad habits can be as easy as breathing. So how do you overcome these hurdles to form great habits and not form bad ones?
There are three secrets I’ve found that have helped me to wake up early, stop drinking coffee, eat better, stop smoking, and journal every day. You can use these easy secrets to help you too. Let’s get right to it.
James Clear wrote in his book Atomic Habits:
You become your habits.
It’s Hard to Form Good Habits
Maybe you were like me trying to read every day or set out to have a New Year’s Resolution only to lose steam after a few days or weeks. Maybe you have goals to improve your self-image, lose weight, or start exercising more but cannot get traction.
It’s not your fault. There is a reason why we fail to achieve our goals of establishing good habits. There are so many things competing for our attention. It’s no wonder we don’t have the time, energy, or motivation to follow through on our goals to become better.
I’m a father of two young boys and, for you other parents out there, you know that your time is valuable. Trying to establish a habit of waking up early to do some reading is nearly impossible when you’ve had to wake up to help your child in the middle of the night because they had a bad dream, fell out of bed, or need a glass of water…
Not having enough energy can derail any train bound for good habit creation.
It’s Easy to Form Bad Habits
What’s worse than not succeeding in forming good habits? Developing bad habits instead. And what’s even worse than that, it is so easy to form bad habits it can cause you to give up in frustration. It can be overwhelming.
It can start with a snack before bed, staying up way too late watching just the next four episodes of your new favorite show, or choosing to ignore your overflowing email inbox.
Those simple actions by themselves won’t feel like the path to bad habits, and that’s the trouble with forming bad habits; it’s too easy.
That last night snack may cause your body to get less sleep at night. Strangely, your body will associate this as a desired action and will likely prompt you to have another late-night snack the next night. And again the next night.
Watching that extra few hours of the show will set you up for a tough morning when it’s time to get up with the kids or prepare for the job. If the show is good enough, it’ll inspire you to watch more again. When you’re not starting your day right, it’s hard to have the energy to do your best. This also makes you more likely to fail at other goals or responsibilities.
Email is easy to ignore, and it is always in the inbox when you come back to it. It’s just like tossing snail mail into a pile instead of sorting it right away. It is a sure-fire way to end up with a missed bill or massive pile to be moved later. If you’re not organized and continue to choose behaviors that work against you, it’ll be easy to see an overwhelming amount of work to get back to clean. I’ve been there; if it looks like too much work, it probably won’t get cleaned up, and days will go by as the amount of work climbs.
The worse part of all of this is that once these negative patterns start, it can be a spiral down a path where you look back weeks, months, or years later, asking, how did it get so bad?
Our Lives Depend on Forming Good Habits
Bad Habits can Ruin Your Life
I used to smoke cigarettes. It was a terrible habit formed in my early twenties when out partying with friends. This not only had negative impacts on my health but my stress level and energy levels weren’t balanced either. Magnify that over several years, and my body was complaining.
It was taxing my health and wallet, as each day meant another pack of cigarettes purchased. If I couldn’t break that bad habit that had formed so easily while out having a good time with friends, my life and health would worsen, and I could be at higher risk of cancer.
The hardest thing about this bad habit was my body was convinced that it needed this. I was addicted.. much like many of you are addicted to your bad habits.
Imagine for a moment what your life will look like if you allow your bad habits to go unchecked for the next year, five years, or even the rest of your life. Imagine the impact on your health, stress level, and happiness. If you don’t like what you see, that’s a good thing, because your life depends on forming good habits!
Good Habits can Lift You Up
Have you ever started an exercise routine, began a new diet, or gotten enough sleep and felt terrific afterward? You were feeling the uplifting power of positive movement. Your mind was acknowledging this as a great thing.
The hard part is the follow-through, that second or third workout session, that 5th diet meal that feels inadequate, or not having enough free time because you’re sleeping too much. This is where habits help because it becomes harder to fail once established.
Choosing to form the right habits can make your life easier too! Imagine all the energy you could have if you eat healthy foods and exercise. Imagine how many more habits you could form if you had that extra energy and clarity. Imagine how much harder it would be for you to allow yourself to fall into creating negative habits again.
Imagine who you would be if you did rise to the level your habits could take you. What type of person would you be?
3 Secrets to Forming Good Habits
These are secrets that I’ve used to Wake up early, eat healthier, and have more free time.
Secret 1: Determine Your Ideal Identity
Identity change is the North Star of habit change.” – James Clear
Before seeing the significant changes, I needed to get clear on who I wanted to be and what I wanted in life. I’m not a smoker. I don’t drink coffee. I wake up before 4 am each day. I’m living my life as the future-minded business owner I am. I have free time to play with my kids, be with them at dinner time, and share stories at bedtime.
I was a smoker, and now I’m not a smoker. If someone asks me if I want a smoke, I say, “no thanks, I don’t smoke.”
Ask yourself: Who is the type of person who can get the result I want? Base your identity around this.
If you’re overweight, change how you perceive yourself and your identity. If eating is a challenge for you, imagine what a healthy person would do if confronted with food options because you are now a healthy person.
Secret 2: Choose a Compounding Habit
I find that I’m only really able to work on one new habit at a time. And with that in mind, I try to choose the habit that will help me make better habits in the future. I call these Compounding Habits. The effects of these habits can be felt as other habits are being formed. These habits make it easier to develop other good habits.
For me, the habit of waking up early gave me the quiet time to take on my day. I gave myself the space to develop future habits by waking up early, like meditating, journaling, reading, creating this blog, and building Snova. This quiet allowed me to prepare for the day ahead of my family, clients, and especially before my kids woke up.
Choose a compounding habit that will help you feel the difference.
If you would like to start waking up early too, here are a few secrets I have discovered work for me:
- I’ll say this first; I have not met anyone who can go to sleep early if they are not tired. So…
- I have to start the cycle by waking up early with an alarm of some sort. (I use an IoT LED light to illuminate on my nightstand at the right time.) Who likes to wake up to a beeping alarm clock?!
- This light wakes me up.
- If this means that I get less sleep the first night, that’s fine.
- I want to be tired earlier in the evening.
- I don’t take any naps. This will ensure I’m tired in the evening and can go right to sleep when I lay down.
Secret 3: Tracking Your Progress
Habit tracking is probably the best way for me to stay on track. By having a visual reminder of how well I’m doing, I can double down on my performance to ensure that I’m making time to establish or maintain the habit. If left unattended, I may find myself skipping or more likely forgetting to do something.
Track both the good and bad habits. By also reducing the negative habits, you are amplifying the positive habits. Big Win!
Make your habit tracking hard to forget. Make it visible. Make it remind you why you are working so hard. We will talk more about your Vision Board another time, but figure out how to link your effort to your vision of your future self.
I think a daily chart is a great way to do this! So, I created a free habit tracker that you can download!
Free Daily Habit Tracking Guide
Get your tracker here. Click this download link below.
Other Tips and Tricks
Read This Book
I’m going to be quoting James Clear a lot. He has so much wisdom to share. Check out his book: Atomic Habits by James Clear here on Amazon:
PS: I got the audiobook on Audible.
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Use These Earbuds to get into the Flow
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