Every one of us has habits that we have developed over our lives whether you are conscious of them or not. Making sure you brush your teeth every night before you go to bed, tidying up the house before you go to work or eating food on your plate in a particular order. Most things we do each day are out of habit. We are so programmed in our habits that we aren’t even aware we are doing them. Have you ever:
driven home from work, pulled into the driveway and realized you’re home but don’t remember the drive?
you’ve left the house for the day and can’t remember if you turned the stove off? So you drive all the way home only to realize that “out of habit” you did turn it off.
you enter a password into a computer or follow the same set of instructions on a task every day but when you actually think of what that password is or try to explain to someone else how to follow the same instructions, you can’t remember?
Most of us spend much of our day on autopilot that we are actually involuntarily performing our tasks.
First of all, what is a habit? A habit is defined as:
“an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.”
Habits take time to form and there is no scientifically proven amount of time that determines how long it will take to form a habit. Having said that, there seems to be some agreement that it takes at least 25 days to 30 days to form a habit but it can also take several months or even years.
The 6 habits I am about to share with you are the habits I have developed over my life. I cannot tell you how long each took me to form into a habit or how long it will take you but I do know they are crucial habits that every one should develop in order to live a life of vitality. Each habit contributes to building a solid foundation that will help you find the energy, courage and determination to follow your dreams.
Physical Activity. I know you know this and I also know that you may have even attempted to start exercising many times. The problem is most people don’t give it enough time to form into a habit and it almost becomes a burden. Sure the first few days or even week are exciting. You’re finally going to lose that weight you’ve been trying to lose for years and this is it. Starting Monday you are going to start going to the gym. And you are motivated. You’re excited! You call up your sister and say “I went to the gym two days this week and worked out on the Eliptithingy”. Then the weekend comes and you’re invited to a dinner party unexpectedly. You over indulge and your hard work during the week is lost so you give up. Sound familiar? Habits take time and incorporating physical activity into your daily life when you’ve haven’t been doing it is going to take time. You need to know that you are going to fail. Things are going to come up unexpectedly. Your boss is going to ask you to stay late one day. You MUST plan for failure but you need to get back at it the next day. Aside from the obvious reason of losing weight the other benefits to incorporate exercise include long-term health benefits like reducing risk of illnesses like cancer and heart disease and contrary to popular belief exercise actually increases your energy levels and helps you sleep better. So find activities you enjoy and get moving!
Healthy, Balanced Nutrition. Think of your body like a car. You wouldn’t put anything in it other than gas and expect it to move so why do we put things in our body like sugar or processed foods and expect to have the energy we need to get through the day. Nutrition may even be more important than physical activity because without fueling our bodies with healthy foods that give us the nutrients and vitamins we need to function, we will never be able to find the energy we need to live with vitality. It is also important to create a healthy relationship with foods where you feel comfortable eating a variety of foods without feeling guilty or creating “cheat days”. Check out my website for more tips and articles.
Good Sleep. Poor sleep environments and bedtime routines can affect your concentration, energy levels and even lead to major illnesses including heart disease and high blood pressure. Creating a positive sleep environment and bedtime routine allows for a better nights sleep and more energy the next day making it much easier to stick to your workout plans and healthy eating schedule.
Mental Fitness. This is what sets apart the winners from the losers, the successful from the unsuccessful. Having a positive mindset and following these basic principles:
Practice Gratitude and show Appreciation for the Present. Spend a few minutes each day thinking about what you are grateful for today rather than the stresses of what’s to come tomorrow.
Take Ownership for the choices and decisions you have made to get you where you are today.
Create a Clear Vision of how you see success when you are practicing each of these habits. Seeing the positive and creating positive beliefs around these as opposed to thinking about all of the failures you have experienced will bring you that much closer to success.
Take Action and Start Doing. It’s not going to come to you. You have to go out there and get it. Just as no one else can do your exercises for you, no one else can make you follow your intuition, make that call or follow up on that lead. You need to open your subconscious mind (through creating a vision) so it can start seeing the signs that have always been there that will guide you to your goals and dreams. And if it doesn’t feel right then choose another direction…but do something.
Remove Negativity, Limiting Beliefs and Resistance that you have with whatever it is you are trying to achieve. These negative beliefs only bring about the things you are thinking about so why not change them from negative to positive?
Persevere Through Roadblocks. Any big success or goal has undoubtedly been met with roadblocks and failure. Thomas Edison didn’t invent electricity on the first attempt. Michael Jordan didn’t make the Basketball team on his first try and Jack Canfield was rejected numerous times before a publisher said ‘yes’ to Chicken Soup for the Soul manuscript. Can you imagine if they all gave up after their first try? So how did they do it? They believed in themselves, they believed in what they were doing and they persevered!
Vision & Passion. This really gets into the nitty gritty of creating your vision. Finding your passion gives you a sense of purpose, gives you direction by keeping you focused on tasks and activities that help you accomplish your goals, provides motivation and increases your productivity. When I don’t have a specific goal that I am working towards, it can sometimes bring me down as I feel like I’ve lost my purpose and I can be more lax in my routines. But when I am working toward something especially something that is time-sensitive, I am more prone to stick with my plan and make good choices that ensure I am 100% focused on achieving that goal. I am also much happier because I am doing things I enjoy and I am passionate about. As soon as I accomplish one goal, I am already excited and motivated to tick another item off the list.
Getting Organized – I hear it all the time; “I don’t like to plan out all of my meals because I don’t know what I’ll feel like eating” or “I don’t have time to exercise when I have so many other things to do”. This is why planning and organizing your days, weeks and months is so detrimental to you achieving your goals and living a life of vitality. It can be very hard to work towards your goals or develop habits when you don’t have a plan. You may quickly find that the week has passed and you haven’t focused on the things you should have been doing. I spend about 30 minutes every Sunday planning out my week so I know exactly what I am doing for most of my day. When I am going to exercise, what meals we are going to eat for the week and any other time needed to take action on a goal.
This means prioritizing what it is I am doing so that the things that will bring long-term satisfaction or things that need to get done are getting done. Without planning you spend more time thinking about what you should be doing or eating, which can lead to poor choices. When it’s planned, you know exactly what to do and you just do it. I even plan time to relax or watch a movie.