We live in a world of conformity. We always find ourselves becoming one with society and forgetting to be unique. Not saying being one with society is wrong, it’s just bad when it involves the way you conduct yourself.
We tend to forget how special we are in this universe. We must realize that we are all technically one in the same. The same brain that made people like Bill Gates and Richard Branson billionaires, also can make you one as well. What makes them different from us everyday people is the fact they have good habits. Any billionaire or millionaire will tell anyone that the sole reason for their success is the simple fact that they cultivated good habits.
“We are what we repeatedly do, excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~Aristotle
Aristotle really hit the hammer on the nail with this. We are what we repeatedly do. I can remember my first year of college when I would procrastinate and sleep in. I wouldn’t study often, and it seemed like I had no control of my day. I blamed it on everyone around me, but never myself. I was repeatedly being a “nobody” and a “loser”. When I started to change my mindset and take note of these bad habits, is when I was able to start change and see improvement.
One good thing about habit change, is when you change one, you tend to improve in almost every area of your life. For example, Richard Branson says the number one trait of being successful is exercise. Being able to improve your body physically, will improve your confidence. Which will improve your social skills, especially with women. And so on.
The benefits of changing bad habits to good habits will improve your whole life. One habit I changed was being able to wake up earlier. I used to wake up around 10-11am, meaning I had less time every day. I started waking up around 6am, and not only did I have more time in my day, I felt better, I looked better, and got a lot of work done. I cannot stress this enough, we are what we repeatedly do.
The journey will be hard, because habits are hardwired into our mind. It’s natural. Popping out a cigarette when you’re stressed is natural. Changing that habit is going to make it hard when a stressful moment occurs. But when that urge is approaching, just visualize the end result.
When it comes to actually changing the habit, just remember 3 words: Awareness, Response, and Time or A.R.T.
3 Easy Ways To Cultivate Good Habits
Step 1: Awareness
How can you change something you don’t notice? Find out what you don’t like about yourself and you would like to change. Maybe you want to get in shape, be more confident, or even just stay organized. It all starts with noticing the problem.
Now find out why or what the trigger is. If you want to be more organized, than your bad habit is that fact your messy. What makes you so lazy to toss those dirty clothes in a hamper or clean up your mess after cooking? Your trigger(s) is the fact you don’t want to waste the time to do that work. As little as the time is to do it, you’d rather put it off until later.
The thing about triggers is that they are sneaky. They are like special forces who fight behind enemy lines because even a week into your habit-change, something can trigger you and you’ll completely forget about your habit-change until you get the reward of the bad habit. So the best way to stop this is simple. Make it hard to just simply revert to those bad habits. Want to stop smoking, don’t hang around smokers. Want to stop sleeping in so late, put your alarm clock across the room and get to bed earlier. Want to eat healthier, then replace the bad food in your fridge with healthy food.
Make sure you write the problem and trigger down. Memorize it, because you’ll need it.
So now you know what you want to change and why you in fact do the bad habit, now we are on our way to step two, which is…
Step 2: Response
Now that you know what the bad habit is, time to replace it with a good one. So back to the example of being disorganized. So we figure you’re this way because you’re a procrastinator and lazy. So the good habit to replace it is, you guessed it, action. You take off your pants, instead of throwing on the floor, take them to the hamper. When things get dirty, clean it immediately. Take advice from Nike and JUST DO IT.
Response should be immediate. And of course, it will feel unnatural in the beginning, but it’ll start to get better quickly. I had a hard time with this stage because I would be aware of my wrongdoing, but I wouldn’t give it the correct response. I would know I need to clean up that mess, but my response would be to put it off until later. Which would be easier in that moment, but instead of spending 30 seconds to clean a small mess, I had to spend 1-2 hours to clean up collective messes.
So on your paper beside your bad habits, put down you good habits that you’re replacing them with. You can have so many ideas and goals, but without action, they’ll never come to reality for you. Action, action, action.
Step 3: Time
It takes, on average, 21 days to instill a habit. 21 CONSECUTIVE days. You can’t do good on days 1-3 and on the 4th, give in and go back to your bad habit, and then go back to good on day 5. Sorry, it doesn’t work like that. Want to stop smoking, then go the whole 21 days without a cancer-stick. Yes, a small puff counts as a whole cig.
And don’t use excuses to why you hopped off track. “Oh, I’m so stressed.” or “I was in a rush, so I couldn’t clean my mess. I can do it later.” Stop with the excuses because the only person you’re lying to is yourself.
When it gets hard, and it will, just remember the positive end result. Visualize yourself in the future with the good habit instilled in you. Looks good doesn’t it? Remember, if you want to get the fruit, you have to get the plant the seed first.
Now with all of that being said, I wouldn’t focus solely on the 21 days. Put your focus on consistent effort. That way, after 21 days, you’re still going strong. The 21-days is just a milestone in my eyes, yet very necessary.
Not only should the habit be instilled in you after a consecutive 21-days of doing it, you’ll also start to see major improvement! And that’s all we really want, to see that improvement.
Any other tips that I left off? Or do you have an amazing story about overcoming a bad habit and the results of the good ones? If so, please leave a comment below!