Habits – My Secret Weapon
The most successful humans on this planet tap into the power of goal planning, but you may not be aware there is a super secret weapon accessible to us all which will help to ensure you work smarter, not harder, while accomplishing your goals.
What is this super-secret tool? Creating, understanding, and controlling your habits! Last week, we talked about the various hidden habits most of us have, and we analyzed which are negative, which are positive, and began to look for habits that we didn’t even realize impacted our lives. In order to use habits to your advantage, we’ll need to understand what habits are, identify existing habits we have, and then introduce the right habits that will be the most beneficial in keeping you on track to reaching the things most important in your life.
What are Habits?
Habits come in the form of an act, thought, motion, reaction – anything done on a routine basis, sometimes triggered by another action, or provoked simply because your mind and body are accustomed to doing this “thing” regularly.
Examples of Habits
- Waking up at a certain time, alarm set or not
- Craving coffee in the morning, whether you’re thirsty or not
- Indulging in a glass of wine, or cold beer after a long day
- Watching TV before going to bed
- Smoke or chew when feeling anxious, bored or upset
- Opening the door for others
- Saving your change when you pay cash
- Washing your hands after using the restroom
- Living paycheck to paycheck
- Regularly enjoying something like pizza to celebrate the end of the week
- Kissing your spouse before going to bed
As you can see, there are both pros and cons to habits, all dependent on who you are, what you’re trying to achieve, and how the specific habit fits into your world. I would encourage you to take a moment to think about the things you do on a weekly basis, that improve your quality of life, and, take note of the things that don’t do anything for you, or even worse, set you off track from where you want to be.
In order to choose the right habits to implement, you’ll need to have clearly defined goals, or priorities identified. When thinking of goals, they can be of any nature, whether it’s to keep your home clean, quit smoking, set aside money, pay off debt, get a promotion, improve a skill, be more adventurous, change your health … you name it. You’ll want to be specific when goal setting, saying “I want to be healthier” really needs to be defined to something such as “I want to stop eating fast food, lower my blood pressure, and lose 5lbs in the next 4 months”.
We ARE what we DO – Take matters into your own hands – Design your destiny!
Now the fun part – you have your goal(s) defined – it’s time to select the things you need to do daily, that will act as your secret weapon. By selecting the right things to implement and the right things to ditch, you’ll be saving yourself frustration down the road.
With your goal in mind, answer these basic questions:
- What do I need to do to reach this goal?
- Of these things I know I need to do, how will I break them down into smaller, bite sized tasks?
- How can I chip away at these small tasks each day?
- What specific actions will I commit to doing?
- What will keep me on track?
Example of how this may play out: I want to lose 5lbs in 1 month. I need to exercise 5 days a week, and make healthier food choices. I’ll spend 30 minutes, Monday-Friday working out, and will stop eating out during the work week. I’ll pick an easy to follow plan that I don’t have to think about too much, and will follow it to the best of my ability each day I scheduled my workout. I’ll stock my fridge with good food choices, and throw out processed items. I’ll pack my lunch AND snacks each day so I don’t have to eat out, and, I will set a reminder on my phone/calendar when I need to work out. I’ll stay on track because I need to find more energy to play with my kids, and don’t want to get sick as often as I have this past year.
Now, for the daily habits
It’s important to define the smallest actions that will set you up for success. In my example of wanting to lose 5lbs in a month, some of the daily actions, or habits, I would choose to implement could include: drink water as soon as I wake up, and before eating or drinking anything else during the day. Lay out my workout clothes each night, and get up earlier, so that my 30 minute workout is done before showering and heading off to the rest of my day. Bored, anxious, have extra energy, frustrated – get up and go for a quick walk. Use salsa in place of dressing. Eat dried fruit or veggies in place of chips or candy. Habits to break would include stop drinking soda, or reaching for sugary or processed snacks, snacking while watching TV, or eating just before bed.
This may all sound overwhelming; stop and take a step back. Remember that implementing just ONE good habit into your life, reminding yourself WHY it’s important to you, then committing to consciously doing this thing every day will make a drastic change for the better. Implement a few new things that work yourself in the direction you’re trying to go, and before you know it, you won’t have to put so much effort into doing these good acts, it will become natural, a part of your daily routine … it will become a habit.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, please be sure to browse the rest of my series on Habits, as well as topics that relate to improving the quality of life. Thanks for your support!