Habits sometimes get a bad reputation. When we think of a habit we usually think about overeating or about bad money habits. However, I happen to love habits! There are a lot of good habits, and those are the ones we will talk about today. Right now, your life is the product of the habits that you have. If you have made it a habit to figure things out when you don’t understand them, then you are probably very knowledgeable. If you make it a habit to save a little money every time you get paid then you have money stashed away! So how do people with good habits make them in the first place? Another way of thinking about it is that if you are doing the right things, then there is very little room left for the wrong things! So let’s take a look at habits. Specifically, creating new positive habits whose secondary mission is to replace negative habits.
Make good habits to replace the bad ones
I thought about getting technical and backing up my theory with fancy terms and psychology lingo – but that started sounding annoying, and this topic so important that I couldn’t risk losing your attention by saying things like cognitive threshold. So I’m going to keep it simple because my mind works like that. In the most basic terms, by creating a good habit you will automatically remove the bad ones. Let me give you an example: if you save 5% of your paycheck every month, it will be very hard for you to go into more debt at the same time. And yes, spending on a credit card while saving money in your checking account is cheating. Example number two: if you start eating healthy food and feeling the positive effects, it will become a lot harder to pick up that candy bar because it feels like you are undoing your hard work. Example three: if you spend time with amazing people, you will have less time to spend with the guy who peaked in high school and who wants to drink through a 12 pack every night. See how that works? I’ll give you a personal example: cussing. Yes, I was out of control at one point. I never made a specific decision to stop swearing, but as I increased the amount of time I spent with intelligent people who didn’t need to cuss to get their point across it just kind of fizzled away. Seriously, that’s all it took.
Be honest and choose habits that work for you
We’ve talked about our WHY and how every decision you get to make in life either gets you closer to or farther away from becoming the person you want to be. The hard part of this is to set yourself up to make the right decisions whenever you can, even when you are tired, frustrated, or hungry. That’s a struggle that never goes away. Another factor I need to mention is your personal level of discipline, you might be amazing at keeping up with exercising but don’t have one ounce of financial discipline. You need to be honest with yourself. Being good in one area does not excuse ignoring the others. OK, so we get it!
Really! Start small! Don’t try to attack your diet, money habits, churchgoing habits, and exercise routine all at the same time. That’s dumb and I guarantee it won’t work. Ask me how I know. It took me years to gain the set of growth habits that I currently have. But if you have a long way to go, don’t let that discourage you! I started with the basics. You already know the habits that you need to give up, so I’m not going to harp on those. The path to greatness is made up of consistent small victories. A graduate degree is nothing more than one class at a time. Financial freedom is achieved by consistently making good decisions over time. Here are some action items for you that will help you figure out what to start doing:
- When you read an action item in a book, article, or blog (ahem!), just do it! Don’t think about it and don’t say “ok I’ll try it starting next week”. Just do it. Try it for a week and if it improves your life then keep the new habit, if it doesn’t work for you or get you closer to your goals – at least you tried it!
- Put the things you know you need to do on autopilot – schedule your morning routine, put family time on the calendar, etc…
- Forgive yourself. Life happens – don’t call it a wash, just get back up and go back to what you set out to do. Take pride in each small success!
Here are some things I do that are habitual. I don’t say these things are for everyone, but they work for me and my family. I’ve seen exponential growth in the areas of my life in which these habits exist.
- Daily quiet time in prayer and prayer journaling – This helps me stay positive and remember what I stand for.
- Daily Bible study with a weekly meeting – I learn more about the way God intends me to live.
- Intentional (scheduled) time with my wife and kids – If I don’t schedule it, it sadly gets forgotten.
- Reading books, listening to podcasts, reading blogs – This is the time I schedule to “sharpen the saw“.
- Seek the company of those who are smarter or further along than me in certain areas and get mentored – If you are the smartest person in the room, you cannot grow!
- Set quantifiable goals that are in line with my WHY – I intentionally seek to become who I am intended to be.
A reminder about my habits- each one of those took months to establish. It does take discipline, but you can do it! Once you get used to getting up a little earlier or exchanging TV time for reading time, you will see how rewarding it is to turn off mindless entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with watching a game or a show, but if it’s all you do in your spare time then you are squandering your time. Time is absolutely your most valuable asset.
So, there you have it. Pick a habit you have that is not beneficial and think of its opposite habit. Now start doing it today! Go as long as it takes to make it a habit for you. New Year’s resolutions are fine but just keep them as a list somewhere and only tackle the things on it one at a time. One last thing, I truly want to help you get this right! If you want to ask me more about specific habits I have, and why I do them feel free to email me or ask about them on the Facebook page so that everyone else can benefit as well.
To end a life of mediocrity, all you have to do is to deposit little victories every time you get the chance. It is very rewarding and once you get started improving, you will quickly see that it’s a lot easier than you think! End average habits because they make your life average.
Let’s end average together!
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Secret tip – when you read things, read them as if you were going to have to teach the material the next day to a group. Your retention of what you learned will skyrocket. Try it!