Start the New Year with Better Habits!
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit"
A habit is an unconscious pattern of behavior created over time through frequent repetition.
The best book on habits is by Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit. We highly recommend reading this book as understanding habits is essential to success building.
Habits start with a cue, such as after a thought, emotion, belief, time of day, etc. that then triggers a routine and ends with a reward such as satisfaction.
Duhigg created this illustration to explain this:
To break this loop and change a habit, we must first understand why we take certain actions.
Charles Duhigg states:
"To change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine."
Therefore, to change a habit the following must occur:
Identify the habit you want to change.
Identify the trigger.
Duhigg suggests answering these 5 questions to know the trigger:
Where are you?
What time is it?
What's your emotional state?
Who else is around?
What action preceded the urge?
Identify the routine.
Understand how you went from the cue to this routine; the more you understand it, the easier it will be to change it.
Identify the reward.
What is the reason you have this habit, what does it provide you with?
Once you are aware of this information, you can change the routine to change the habit.
An example of this looks like this:
It was a stressful day at work, you come home and crave an alcoholic beverage in an attempt to relax. You sit down on the couch, watch tv and drink the beverage, automatically feeling calmer.
To change this habit you can only change the routine. Perhaps going to a yoga class or to the gym after work will provide you with the same relaxed state that an alcoholic beverage does, with better health benefits. The cue (stress) will remain, as will the reward (calmer), the only thing you change is the routine.
To learn more about the science of habit formation, read The Power of Habit.
Here is a list of 7 important habits to have:
Sleep a full-night on a regular, routine schedule.
Make sure your room is dark, quiet, and cool. Sleep hygiene is very important for a good night sleep. Avoid looking at your phone before going to sleep and prepare to have your body relax by taking a warm bath, drinking warm milk or tea, dimming the lights and reading a book.
Read our post on how sleep can make you more productive and successful.
Make to-do lists.
Make lists what you want to accomplish in your day/week. This is very important to staying motivated and on task!
Set goals with action plans.
These can be short-term and long-term goals for the year or longer, make sure to regularly check your progress and modify your action plan as needed.
Practice reading at a set time of day such as 30 minutes before going to bed.
Find other ways to learn, listen to an audio book or an informative podcast on your way to work, while getting ready, while exercising, while cooking/cleaning, etc.
Practice mindfulness meditation.
Mindfulness meditation is extremely important to cognitive function. Just 10 minutes per day can have a huge impact on your brain! Use a guided-app such as Insight Timer and practice it either right before starting your day or right before going to sleep.
To learn more about mindfulness meditation, read our post Mindfulness & Money.
Focus on the things you are grateful for; this will improve your mood and change your thinking into one of abundance versus scarcity.
Surround yourself with other successful people.
As they say, "show me your friends and I'll show you your future."
To learn about the habits of the rich, read our post 10 Habits of the Rich
“Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”