In my life, until my early 20´s I sucked at keeping habits. Well, actually I was a totally unaware and immature human being – what resulted in reactive behavior. Later in my 20’s, I started implementing habits. The impact of having daily habits has transformed my life for the better. But when I started I wasn’t consistent. Sometimes I wanted to change things, but then a few weeks later I didn’t feel the urge anymore.
For me it started with going to the gym. Often I just went one or two weeks and then I wouldn’t go for a month and start again, and stop again. I wasn’t consistent.
Bad habits were also something difficult to get rid off. Like smoking cigarettes (something I did in a previous life). Sometimes I would stop smoking cigarettes and really get myself motivated, but after a few months, I would start smoking again.
I fell off and got back on track, fell off again and got back on it (it was a continuous cycle). But why wasn’t I consistent? What was the reason I couldn’t hold on to them long term?
During my youth, my mother (who I deeply respect and is a Christian) tried to install habits of prayer in my life. Somehow I couldn’t go with it. And even though I tried to do it on a daily base. I really couldn’t.
And during my younger years, there weren’t the digital drugs (snapchat, Instagram, etc.) that kill concentration. I actually played football with my neighbors outside on the streets.
I was really bad at it. Why? Maybe because I wasn’t structured? Nahh. Or did I hate it? Nahh. Why couldn’t I just pray on a daily base and copy my mother’s behavior? Now, almost 30, I discovered that it takes intrinsic motivation to build daily habits. You need to know why you want it and why you want what you want. Just doing something because someone else tells you to is surface level. Deeply knowing what you want is what will make you move forward. And the positive behavior following your positive habits will grow expansional. Because growth fuels more growth.
For me, GROWTH is the reason I want to implement positive habits into my life. And the reason why I want to grow (spiritually, physically, financially and in my relationships) is because I want to be able to GIVE more (value). Why do I want to give more? Because I believe that is the secret to a fulfilled life. We are meant to create. So for me, it’s clear why I want it. And it will keep me going after the initial willpower wears out.
First, think about why you would want to implement certain habits? Because someone told you to? Because someone else has them and has an amazing life? That can actually be pretty good, but it’s still not enough to stay consistent. The first step in implementing habits is asking yourself these questions:
1. Why do I want it?
2. Why do I want what I want?
3. And why do I want that?
It may take you months, years or only a few hours to really find out why you want it. But it starts with asking yourself this question: why do I want it?
The implementation of positive habits is the ‘HOW?’.
What about eliminating bad habits?
The same counts for bad habits. If you focus on the why question on stopping a bad habit and really go to the core you will be able to eliminate the habit out of your life.
And it get’s even better. Remember I said growth fuels more growth? What if I told you we have only 24 hours in a day. Really? Yes, 24. 🙂
If we have 24 hours in a day, it means TIME is limited. This means if we focus on why we want to implement positive habits and start focusing on how we want to fuel our WHY, you will start implementing positive habits and automatically eliminate more and more bad habits. I have experienced it in my own life.
Let’s take a look at my ideal morning routine. It looks something like this:
• Wake up
• Drink a glass of water
• Do 5 Tibetans to warm up my body
• Drink another glass of water
• Meditate at least 20 minutes
• Drink another glass of water
• Express gratitude for something
• Read a book 15-30 minutes
• Shower and get ready
This whole routine takes +- 1 hour.
In many periods of my life I have experienced times where my morning routine was something like this:
• Wake up
• snooze 9 minutes
• Wake up again
• Snooze another 9 minutes
• Wake up again,
• Stay awake, but grab my phone.
• Check all my social media accounts on my phone.
• Check my stocks
• Shower and get ready
This whole routine takes me +- 1 hour.
Considering that we have a limited 24 hours a day and are awake approximately 16 of it, I just swapped bad habits to good habits. So 1/16 of my day just turned from something bad into something good.
But it get’s even better. Remember that growth fuels growth. With a morning routine, it does even more.
If I start my day with a ‘good´ morning routine, I reinforce better behavior throughout the day:
- For me growth (my why) means taking care of my body: by starting the day with a physical activity I make my body ready to take on challenges for the day.
- For me, growth means taking care of my state of mind (spiritual) so I start the day by doing meditation and being grateful.
- For me, growth means learning new things and getting into a flow, so I start the day by reading.
- For me, growth means being proactive and expanding my circle of influence. By doing this morning routine my subconscious mind gets into a pro-active state what reinforces more of this behavior during the day.
Do you get the point? Your why determines how good you will be able to implement positive habits and by doing so you automatically will start being less drawn to bad habits. It helps your subconscious mind change for the better. Start implementing good habits by clearly knowing your why and you will automatically start eliminating bad habits..
Let’s also the analyze the ‘bad’ morning routine. What kind of behaviour would it reinforce?
Snoozing, checking my smartphone and rushing to work reinforce reactive behavior and it will fill it throughout the day.
How to find your why takes a lot of inner work. It needs a why to find your why.
For many of us a painful event (breakup, near-death experience, losing a loved one) is necessary to start exploring our why’s. Sooner or later everyone will come across these painful events. Looking proactively towards these events will reinforce finding your why. Try to show some gratitude for these events and take them to your advantage to explore and grow. Do you need these events to be able to change? No, without them you can as well. But it takes more discipline and willpower to dig into your why’s.
To cut it short:
Take your time, develop yourself, learn and you will discover your why’s and start being consistent with your habits.
Thanks for reading.
PS. I’m working on a course on habits, so keep checking this space.