Make it a habit

Probably because it’s the new year, but I’ve been seeing a lot of sites and articles focused on the idea that the best way to change is develop new habits.

Once you get to the point that you no longer consciously think about something it becomes ingrained into your life.  And if you consciously choose the most effective habits, one at a time, you will become an unconscious effective machine…so to speak.  😉

This stuff really works…

Based on my personal experiences and a lot of stuff I’ve read, this is way more effective than it might seem on the surface. 

As a personal example, I’ve been going to the gym 4 – 5 days a week for the last year or so.  I didn’t have any real specific goals other than wanting to get into better shape, break a sweat, and enjoy some time out of the office.

What I’ve found is that when I miss a day, it bugs me.  My routine has been broken and I’m motivated to make sure I go the next day.  It’s become a habit, a part of my routine.  That’s pretty powerful considering I probably went 10 – 15 years before that without any kind of regular exercise approach.

Some examples of worthwhile habits (not necessarily ones I currently have);

  1. Regular exercise
  2. Eating right
  3. Calling / emailing people back
  4. Flossing
  5. Reading
  6. Writing (journal, blog, whatever)
  7. Drinking enough water

Imagine if you could identify just 1 or 2 things that you know are important that you no longer had to worry about doing – because you do them automatically.  If you add 1 new thing every few months, you can pretty quickly develop a whole new way of doing things better and less effort – pretty cool idea!

 

Where to get started?

There are a lot of different opinions on this, but generally it seems to take at least 30 days (probably more on average) to really develop a new habit.  It’s likely you’ll slip at some point but just keep plugging away. 

Here are some suggestions that might help you:

Start out small

It’s best to build upon successes, and the best way to start out with a success is to start with something that’s not too hard. 

Instead of jumping into “I will work out at least 1 hour every day” start with “I will do a 10 minute walk around the neighborhood 5 times a week”.  Once you’ve got some routine in place, it’s a lot easier to add to it.

Be specific and practical

The more explicit you can be in terms of what you want to do, the easier it will be to imagine doing that thing and planning for a way to do it that will fit your current lifestyle.

If you want to start writing everyday, set aside a block of time that works for you and schedule into your day.  If you’re not a morning person, don’t schedule 6:00 AM for your writing.

Get some help

It’s important, especially for bigger changes, to get some support on board.  It could be someone cheering you on, or helping to hold you accountable. 

This is a big part of what Coaching is all about  If you’d like to create some new habits within your business, give me a call!  If you’d like to work on personal habits, I know several great coaches that can help with that as well.  Give me a call.

Many people have also found it worthwhile to track progress visually, it can be a great reinforcement / reminder of the progress you’re making.

I would highly recommend reading Zen Habits, it’s an extremely well-written blog that covers this kind of thing in great detail.  I especially like the quote the author has on the article I linked to:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle

Finally – here are some online tools that you can use to track your progress:

http://www.habitizer.net/

http://www.everydaysystems.com/habitcal/

http://www.joesgoals.com/

I’d love to hear your thoughts on habits and what you’d really like to add to your life – share your thoughts here.

Shawn Kinkade  www.aspirekc.com

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