Note: This is the fourth article in the series “How to be Successful by…”. This series examines what traits successful people have in common. Here are the first three articles in the series:
How to be Successful by Practicing Resilience
How to be Successful by Taking Responsibility
17 Ways to Achieve Heroic Goals
Everyone gets excited and pumped about some new idea they hear, some motivational purpose, that new year’s resolution, or whatever. We hear and read so many good ideas and success tips. But we never really seem to follow through on them for long. Why is that? Because we fail to make them a habit.
As much as 90% of your daily behavior is habitual. In a very real sense you are your habits and so it is very important that you understand what habits you posses. Those habits are currently limiting you and by developing some new killer habits and eliminating your bad habits, you can re-frame your possibilities. Your results are being driven by your habits and if you want to improve your results, you are going to have to change your habits. Good habits power success.
10 Things You Can Do To Develop Killer Habits and Eliminate the Bad Ones
Understand your existing habits
Make a list of every habit you have. Get feedback from friends, family, and colleagues. Examine this list and discover your limiting habits so you can eliminate them. Some examples of bad habits:
- Eating crap
- Watching TV
- Being late
- Working too much
- Interrupting people
Establish New Habits that Are Aligned With High-Level Purposes
If you don’t attach your new habit to high-level life purposes, then you will not have the commitment to follow through and ensure it becomes established. I want to live to 100 and be highly functional all the way to 100. I want to be alive to watch my grandchildren (hopefully I will have some) grow up. I want to be able to talk to them and play with them. I want to travel the world.
I haven’t even begun to accomplish my life’s purpose. In order to do all this I need to be very healthy and fit. With this purpose as a backdrop, I decided to establish a healthy eating habit. I’ll leave it to your imagination as to whether I was successful in that or not.
Commit To Your New Habit Every Morning for 30 Days
Until your new habit actually becomes a habit, you will have to make the empowering decision over and over again. It is not yet automatic. So while developing the healthy eating habit, I had to recommit to it every day. Experts believe it takes approximately 30 days for new neural pathways to be laid down in your brain. These neural pathways are the what allow your subconscious mind to take over and automate your new behavior.
Focus on Only One Habit at a Time
Trust me on this. I have repeatedly tried to do too many things at once and it just dilutes your focus and is a recipe for failure. I’m impatient and want to do it all at once, but commit to and focus on no more than one new habit per month. After one year you will have 12 powerful new success habits. That is more than life-changing.
Establish the Habit First, Then Expand It
The establishment of the habit is the most important part of the process. It is more important than the content of the habit. Let me explain this with an example. If you decide you are going to establish an exercise habit, you need to make the exercise routine easy. If you make it too difficult, you will be much more likely to find an excuse to fail.
My exercise habit was established with a daily walk in the sunshine that I found very pleasurable. You could exercise for 5 or 10 minutes a day for 30 days straight and then start ramping up the intensity of the exercise routine after it is established.
This is very difficult for me, but it is extremely important. You did not get to your current situation overnight and you cannot get out of it overnight. Relax and go slowly and gradually. Add new healthy foods to your diet gradually. Don’t shock your system and emotions by going from sugar to green in one day. Don’t take on too much at once or you will become overwhelmed and you will dramatically increase the likelihood of failure.
Want your new habit!
If you are not passionate about your new life and if you don’t really want the change, you are not going to be successful in changing. It is that simple. If you are not committed, then don’t start because all you will end up doing is establishing a habit of failing to establish habits. Think New Year’s resolutions.
Make Zero Exceptions
This is a tough one, but an important one. If you cheat once in a while, then you will be constantly torn with decisions about whether to cheat or not. Further, once you open the door, it is easy to slide down the slope and you will very likely just end up at the bottom. If you stay committed to the zero exceptions rule, you will actually find your new habit easier. The decision has already been made – you aren’t eating cookies. You aren’t torn and stretched between the option to cheat or not cheat. There is no choice available to you.
If you build an exception into your habit it is not cheating and there is still no choice. For example, if you decide that Saturday night is “sinful meal night” then that’s ok. But you have to stick to that 100%. If you add a sinful meal randomly during the week you are cheating.
Attach Painful Emotions to Bad Habits and Pleasurable Emotions to Good Habits
This is a great idea that I have recently discovered and it is very powerful and simple. I am indebted to Jonathan Wells at Advanced Life Skills for introducing me to this idea. Please visit his site and get his e-Book for details.
The basic idea is to list both your empowering and limiting beliefs/habits. Next to your empowering habits or beliefs, write down the positive emotions you experience or will experience as a result of practicing that habit. Next to your bad or limiting habits and beliefs, write down the painful emotions and experiences you have as a result of that habit or belief.
You have now anchored what you want to do with positive and pleasurable emotions and what you want to eliminate with painful emotions. Review and visualize these responses frequently and you will have a simple tool to enable change.
Write down your new habit every day for 30 days
Write down your commitment and decision every day for 30 days while you are establishing your habit. Write down how it is attached to and aligned with your high-level purpose. It makes it real and it burns it into your brain. “I want to see my grandchildren. I want to see the world. I want to live and thrive until I am 100 years old. I want to live life to it’s fullest in every moment I have. I will eat healthy today.” That’s a powerful way to motivate yourself to establish a new habit.
I didn’t provide you a list of killer habits for you to develop. It’s better if you come up with those yourself. However in the past and in the future on this blog, many posts are devoted to single subjects that you should develop as a habit. The net is full of good ideas that you should make habitual parts of your daily life.
What do you think? Leave a comment below. Subscribe to The Rat Race Trap by Email here or to a reader in the top left sidebar. I would love to have you aboard.