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Good habits create a good life. When we look at our desired future selves, everything about that person we want to become is rooted in a habit. I often work with people that want to be someone who works out a certain number of times a week, or someone that is always on top of work projects. The only way to be that person is to….well, be that person. To instil those habits that the person you envisage will do. And here’s 5 quick ways that you can do that:
1) Focus on the habit that will give you the most bang for your buck. Don’t try to change too much at once and wait until you’ve embedded your highest priority habit before trying anything else. If you’re not sure which habit is the one that will give you the most, do a quick visualisation of your best future you. What is the habit that is most noticeable about them? That’s your one.
2) Make it daily. This is not me suggesting that you do exactly the same version of the habit every day, especially with exercise. Doing too much of the same habit all at once can weaken your willpower and in the case of exercise put you at risk of injury and over-training. Instead, think of some lower-impact versions of your habit. If it is exercise, think about walking, swimming or stretching at home. If it’s something like work organisation and your main habit that you want to instil is 90 minutes of focus before opening emails, perhaps you start off with a shorter time on some days. By making your habit daily, even if the intensity is lower, you create the space to do things and can adjust intensity/duration at a later date.
3) Assess. How does doing this habit make you feel? What’s difficult about it? What is preventing you from committing further to it? By accurately assessing, you can make changes easily and keep on track. Without assessing, it is all too easy to pronounce something as too difficult and stop doing it or just let it slide without thought.
4) Bundle it. Habit bundling means bundling your new habit with an established one. For instance, doing things as soon as you get out of bed, just before or after doing your teeth, at the same time as your lunchtime walk or when you usually make a phone call. By adding a new habit to an established one, you keep doing it with less conscious thought and are more likely for the habit pattern to successfully form.
5) Reward yourself. If you use a habit tracker, write your reward at the end of a period of time, like a month. Write your reward somewhere you can see it when you do your habit (like your work desk, the area of the house where you exercise, on your phone). Rewarding yourself for sticking to something, especially if it is something you haven’t necessarily found really easy, will help you through slightly trickier patches.
What habits do you see your best future self doing? Where are you going to start?