Aristotle was a pretty smart guy. So when he makes a statement about daily habits being related to excellence, I kinda think we should listen.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle
There are many that have made statements with a similar sentiment. And instinctively, from our own experience even, we know that what he says is true…
Habits are the path that leads us to excellence.
Those that are the most successful in sport, art, business, life, whatever… are those that do the things over and over and OVER again, which take them ever closer to their goals.
With that in mind, the most important thing for me to focus on at the moment is, my daily rituals. Those things that I do every day, that will lead me to the success that I crave.
My daily habits are, at best, terrible. :-O
There are a number of small (and good) habits that I want to embed in my life; habits that I believe will lead to success for me. But with so many little habits that I want to incorporate, I find myself swapping and changing all the time.
The gurus of creating daily habits or rituals tell you to just focus on one habit at a time, do it for 30-60 days until the habit becomes a, well, habit; and then focus on the next habit.
But the habits I’m talking about are really small. Like less than 30 seconds, small.
For example, my affirmation take me approximately 15 seconds to say. (Yes I could have more affirmations, or repeat them more than once. But like I say, I want to instil these small habits and have them stay with me for life.)
When the behaviour I want to adopt is so small, I feel like I’m not doing anything towards bettering myself. When I’m focusing on something so small, it feels like I’m wasting my time. What do I do with the other 23 hours 59 minutes and 45 seconds of my day? Just go on as normal? That hardly seems like life-changing stuff.
One of the most popular methods of creating daily habits is made up of two parts:
One: is to link the desired action to something you already do. So if you already have a drink of water first thing in the morning, then the new habit of being grateful should come straight after that. You get into the habit of remembering to be grateful as soon as you drink your water. The drinking of the water is the trigger.
Two: ensure that the changes you want to make are small. Yeah, well, I actually have no problem with that part.
The Not-so-popular (okay, I made it up) Method
So, against the recommendations of many online personal development / self-improvements proponents, I’ve decided to create my daily habits by listing the important tasks/habits that I want to be performing everyday. They are:
- Drink one cup of water upon rising
- Write 200 words
- Healthy Breakfast
- Healthy Lunch
- Healthy Dinner
- Facebook block
I then added them to a checklist where I’ll tick them off every day, starting with a checklist for one month. Here’s what it looks like:
During the month, as I thought of other habits that I want to incorporate into my daily routine, I added them to the list.
I think it’s important not to get hung up on what the activities on my list are. It doesn’t matter. Well, not to you anyway. To me, they’re very important!
You know what habits you want to incorporate in your life.
They’re often based in your pain points.
What are you most disappointed about at the moment? Your weight, fitness, business, relationships?
What are the things, that if you did everyday, you know would make that pain point much, much better?
Those are the things to put on your list.
Going for just two weeks now…
And so far, I’m loving it. LOVING IT.
I feel like I’m finally doing something that can’t help but improve myself now (in a small way) and in the future (in a much bigger way).
One of the things I’ve loved, is discovering a few tidbits I’ve learnt about myself:
- I like being able to maintain lots of ticks in a row. For example, the Facebook block is where I do not look at Facebook prior to 10am. So far, I’ve done quite well at this. Simply because I think about how I can put another tick for today if I just hold out. It’s not like I can’t ever look at Facebook again. I just have to hold off until 10am. I’m pretty happy about that.
- It’s become quite clear, pretty quickly, the areas that I need to work on. Umm, hello, exercise!?
- Something as simple as a tick, is a reward for me. I feel good about myself and it gives me a little smile to be adding ticks.
- The list, mostly in the order that I would complete them, is a perfect reminder for me of the little habits I want to create every day.
- The habit of drinking a cup of water first thing in the morning, was already pretty ingrained. I realise now that the habit I wanted to form was drinking the whole cup, not stopping half way through and forgetting to go back to it.
A list suits my personality. Yep, I’m a list girl.
But everyone is different
So here’s another thing I’ve realised. Everyone. Is. Different. Duh! In all of the personal development books and audios and courses, we learn lots of different ways in which to improve ourselves. But everyone is different. So a method that works for you, may not work for me. I’ve tried quite a number of ways to develop a good habit and I’ve found it such an effort to make it stick, that the effort wore out, or I simply forgot that I was meant to be focusing on it!
I haven’t seen anyone else recommend developing habits this way.
But it works for me. And it makes me feel great. So even after a couple of weeks, I’m still keen every morning to see how my ticks are going.
Do you think this is something that could work for you? If not, tell us what method you’ve used to develop habits.