“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle
It all comes down to your habits.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve heard that before. My question to you is: So what are you doing about it?
Over 90 percent of what you do every day is based on habits. Your habits are the things you do on automatic pilot, like drive a car, how you respond to events, and the way you talk to your spouse. It is your unconscious way of behaving in the world. The gift or the curse of habits is that they require no energy. You perform them without even thinking about it. Some habits feed you and make you stronger, such as a nightly flossing habit and other habits spiral you in the wrong direction, such as smoking or eating fast food.
You can increase the number of positive and healthy habits you have and decrease the ones that don’t nourish you by apply some simple techniques.
First let me tell you that I am not a doctor, a nutritionist or a physical fitness trainer. I am a regular person. Notice I didn’t say “normal.” I have a weakness for salty foods, I talk too much sometimes, and I have been known to have a bad temper. However I have applied the advice I have accumulated over the years and I have learned how to be healthier, happier, mentally and spiritually fit by creating positive habits for myself. I am a living test woman. I have pushed my body through physical exercise, challenged my mind to grow, and meditated on my faith. I am living proof that this stuff works.
What doesn’t work:
Cosmetic fixes, fads and miracle cures don’t work. Advertisers want you to think that if you buy a certain product, your life will get better. If you only had longer eyelashes, a faster car or took a pill, you will be happier. We are bombarded with images from the media of products that promise to make us happy. Yet, what people don’t realize is that most of the things we think will make us happy, do not. They may make us happy for a short period of time, but the feeling is short-lived. Genuine beauty and strength comes from confidence within. The confidence of knowing who you are at your core. Happiness is not a competition. You are here to run your own race, and great habits will help you get there.
What does work?
Steady perseverance and building yourself from the inside out, one small habit at a time does work. Ugh! I can hear you moaning from here. I know you want the quick road. Most of us do. We live in a society that craves the dollar and the dream. We want to buy our furniture with no money down, and we want the pill for weight loss. Yet real long-term change rarely occurs that way. While not all of us have been given the same opportunities and privileges in life, we all have the same access to happiness. It is in our hands. When you build yourself up steadily with habits that strengthen your inner core, mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally, you are met with success. This is a fundamental principle since the beginning of time.
Here are some tips to get you started:
Forget the 21-day rule – take 90-days:
The experts say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Basically, if you consciously practice something for 21 days, it will become something you do unconsciously. I’d rather you take 90 days. You have been living with your habits for a long time, and it will take some time to alter the course you are on. However, if you just practice one positive and healthy habit and apply it consistently to your life for 90 days, it will become something you do automatically. Remember: Habits require no energy. Once you have your first habit down, you may move on and add another. If all you did was add a new habit every 90 days, in five years you would have accumulated 20 new positive, life- inspiring habits. I need to repeat that…20, count ‘em, 20 new positive habits, if you only add one every 90 days. How fabulous would it be to have your life running on autopilot in the direction of your goals and dreams?
MAKE the time:
The biggest excuse people make to me is that they don’t have the time. There are 8,700 hours in a year. I would like to assume that you can carve out some time for yourself. What I have learned is you don’t ever find the time. You make the time. You have to ask yourself why you can’t seem to find a few hours for yourself? In my opinion the quest to improve yourself is worth every ounce of effort. Nike knew what they were saying with the phrase, “Just do it.”
The reason most people fail is because they aim too high, start too big and try to change too much at once. Come on people. Let’s be real. If you start small and apply my 90-day rule you will be accumulating positive habits faster than you can imagine. Most people wake up on New Year’s Day and decide they are going to give up chocolate, workout, eat vegetables and stop drinking soda. I’m not sure what it is about New Year’s Eve that makes us all delusional, and makes us set our self up for failure before we even begin. Keep it simple are words to live by. Start with one habit, one thing at a time.
Don’t deprive yourself – start by adding:
Don’t take something away when you are starting to create a new positive habit. Instead add something that is good for you. If you’ve always wanted to quit smoking, that may be too big of a challenge to start with. Instead, start by adding apples to your diet. You know the saying: “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” There is something to that, and apples are great nutrition for you. Promise yourself to eat apples every day. Simple. Once that becomes a habit, work on adding a daily walk around the block. After 90-day of walking, you may find that you’d like to take up running. Before you know it, you will have accumulated so many healthy habits, that smoking will seem ludicrous to you, and you will find the strength to quit. The more good habits you add to your life, you will find the unhealthy habits miraculously fall away.
Improve yourself on the inside:
Most people are focused on creating habits that are health and appearance centered, and I am all for that, but don’t ignore your inner-self. Habits that help you build confidence, increase your emotional intelligence or that strengthen your relationships are just as important as exercise and eating a good diet. Maybe you want to read more books that educate, inspire and motivate you. Then the new habit you could cultivate is to commit to reading 10 pages a day. A good diet of words is the new habit you will form. Be open to the possibilities of what you will focus on. No matter where you start, everything overlaps and has a cumulative effect. Every positive habit you create, will lead you to creating another positive habit.
At the end of the day, when you focus on creating habits that build your emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual health what will result is what I call a strong core. The word core is defined as: the central part of something. When your core is strong, you have the confidence to pursue your passions, connect with your purpose, and you have the energy to perform whatever tasks are necessary to achieve your goals. Even when things do go wrong, you are able to hold things together and get back on track. Positive habits will strengthen your core and they will liberate you. I want only the best for you, because you deserve the best. Start small, and start now…your life is waiting.