We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.
There are two types of habits, one is good and the other..not so much. Good habits are the ones which are productive and helpful, such as drinking more water or waking up earlier. Then there are the ones which are frowned upon, such as smoking. Naturally, in a blog devoted to striving towards your potential and making the most of your life, the focus here will be on the good habits.
Why are good habits such a big deal?
In an average day, our brain is working furiously for as long as we are awake. It controls our thought processes, our decision making processes, our actions and also how we interpret everything going on around us. Being this busy, any help it can get to reduce the workload is definitely a good thing. This is where the healthy habits come in, and if those habits can become daily routines, then that’s even better. When a habit becomes a routine, we no longer think about it, because it just happens. This means that some of our brain power can be turned towards focusing on other tasks or issues.
Healthy habits and routines not only ease the burden on our brains, but they also help us to structure our days. This means that we find ourselves with a number of things which we do because we want to, without thinking, and they help to get us closer to our goals. Adding structure to our days is essential, because it prevents procrastination and wasted time. It can stop us from putting off things which we could do now to propel us forward. Essentially, it can help to prevent us from becoming complacent and lazy, instead keeping us working to build and maintain the momentum which can bring positive results.
If you’re wondering just how to get started with developing positive habits and routines, there really is no secret. Just get started. It’s a matter of trial and error, keeping that which works and learning from that which doesn’t. Habits vary from person to person depending on who they are and the direction in which they want their lives to be headed. For me, I want to push myself to test the limits of what I am capable of. I want to keep learning and developing all the time in order that I can become the best version of myself and provide value to everyone around me. I want to raise myself up, before reaching out to raise others too.
To do this, I can’t allow myself to just take my days as they come. By the time my head hits the pillow at night, I want to know that I have achieved something with my day. Of course, I make sure I have enough downtime during the day for entertainment and relaxation because the least thing I want is to burn out. Here are a few of the things I do every day, which work for me;
- Get up at the same time each day. On a weekday i’m up at 5:30 to shower and get ready for work. On the weekends, I am up at the same time. I don’t have lie-ins. Firstly, it keeps my body clock in good working order. Secondly, getting up early allows me to fit more into my day. Tired? Go to bed earlier. When I used my weekends to catch up on sleep, I would be exhausted on Monday morning and this is not a good way to start the week. I had allowed my body two days of sleeping late but was now asking it to spring into action early again. By getting up at the same time every day, your body doesn’t need to adapt to anything. Simple, but effective.
- Make your bed. Yes, you read it right. Making your bed takes a matter of seconds, yet it gives you the satisfaction of completing a task before you’ve even had breakfast. Plus it looks nice.
- Gratitude journal and to-do list. While my coffee is cooling down to a temperature which won’t incinerate my insides, I write down 3-5 things for which I am grateful and a brief explanation why. This is a wonderful exercise, and puts you in a positive mental frame of mind for the day because you can’t write down your blessings and not feel happy. I also have a look at my to-do list for the day, which helps me to prepare mentally for the day ahead and also prioritise the tasks on the list. By the time I get to my desk, I know what I have to accomplish that day, and in what order.
- Physical activity. If I can’t make it to the gym, i’ll go for a walk in the park. It doesn’t matter what I do, as long as I do something which involves getting active. When I get moving, I clear my head and de-stress.
- Journal and to-do list. In the evening, i’ll set some time aside to journal. This is where I reflect on the day, my decisions and their outcomes, my progress towards my goals and any issues I have encountered. This helps to clear my head again, and a clear head means a good night’s sleep. After journalling, I grab a separate notebook and make a to-do list of important tasks for the next day, so that I don’t forget anything or get distracted. If it’s on paper, then I will make sure it gets done.
All this makes for a busy but productive day. It keeps me learning, reflecting and growing. More importantly, though, it keeps me working hard on my goals. When bad things happen, I am too busy to wallow in self-pity so instead I reflect on what I can learn from the experience, apply it and move on.
I share this with you today, because it works for me and can work for anybody else. You don’t need any equipment, specialist skills or knowledge. All you need is to decide which habits you want to develop, identify how they can help you on your journey and get to work on them. Repetition and discipline will turn these activities into habits and later into routines. Once formed, these habits and routines will help you to build and maintain the momentum which will propel you towards your goals. You just need to want it bad enough that you are prepared to put the work in. Every day.