“We first make our Habits, and then our habits make us” – I came across this quote the other day and it resonated very well with me. If you exercise daily and eat right, it is reflected in your appearance as well as outlook to life. Daily meditation helps you maintain your calm and composure even in adverse situations. Reading daily, adds to your knowledge and you automatically gain respect for the value you bring in. So, one hundred percent agree with the quote that Habits make you. In fact, going one step further, habits can make or break you.
Good habits will help you grow and thrive as an individual, however if you pick up a bad one it can be your undoing. For a brief while, I decided to binge watch Netflix and catchup on some shows I missed. The net result was for a few weeks, I slacked on my exercise and gave up my writing time. The extra weight that I gained and lack of activity on my blog site, made me realise my folly and I limited the time spent on entertainment.
Good habits on the other hand, help you in all aspects of your life. For example, spending the first hour of the day on meditation and things that are important for you makes your entire day productive and gives you a sense of achievement.
Bad habits are often formed due to stress or boredom. Try to find the root cause of your stress and boredom and fix the issue. It could be that you are overloaded with your commitments or have signed up for something that you particularly don’t like and want an out or your health is not keeping up.
A bad habit can be eliminated by replacing it with a good one and avoiding environments that trigger the habit. If you are an excessive coffee consumer, you can replace a few cups of coffee with a healthy drink or just plain simple water. If you like to indulge in sweets, avoid visiting the bakeries and super markets that stock your favourite treats and definitely do not stock them at home.
Habits and goals are not synonymous. A goal is something that you wish to achieve e.g. reading 50 books a year, topping your class, starting your own enterprise. A goal is like a concept, which has to be made tangible and then broken down into tiny habits to help you achieve the goal. Good habits will help you reach your goal successfully, while a bad habit can significantly lower the chance of your success.
Tiny habits help you achieve lofty goals. Break your goal into subgoals and create a habit around it. If your goal is to read 50 books a year, translate it into a daily goal and work on it. 50 books a year is roughly 1 book per week. Each book on an average has 250 pages, so you could set a goal of reading 40 pages per day and Voila, your goal is very achievable.
Atomic habits by James Clear is very good guide to inculcating good habits and breaking bad habits and highly recommend read.
How does one make something new a habit? I am a big fan of Zig Ziglar and for most of my life, I have followed his mantra for successfully forming new habits. Ziglar says that it takes 21 days to form a new habit.
21 days is a long time, so you need to ensure you are motivated to start and have a reward to celebrate once the habit is achieved.
Now forming new habits, breaking new habits and sustaining habits, all this was easy pre-pandemic. Those days, we stepped out of our homes for work, to travel and to socialise. We met so many different people and had so many different experiences that it was very easy to learn new things, seek inspiration and motivation from outside and form new habits and sustain them. With the pandemic making everyone home bound, people interactions limited largely to virtual interactions and your home becoming the primary source of inspiration and motivation, sustaining a habit is tough, forget forming a new habit or losing a bad one.
Boredom and stress have increased during the pandemic, and the two easily can easily make you pick a bad habit. While it is okay to be not okay all the time during these different times, one should ensure to snap out of it – this is where mindfulness plays an important role. Mediate daily first thing in the morning. Apart from this it is important to set aside time periodically, maybe once a month or every fortnight to introspect on your habits and work on strengthening your good habits and replacing your bad habits. During these times you must rely on motivation more from inwards, rather than the external world.
Schedule sufficient down time in your lives to recover from fatigue i.e. factor in Me time. Watch a movie, read a book, sip a coffee in your garden or balcony, play with your family, relax. Stay connected with friends and family via audio and video calls – seek inspiration from them and inspire them. Reach out to family, friends, and acquaintances and any one in need. There is no greater joy that can helping some one in need. A coach, counsellor or buddy can help you stay on track – find someone who can be your sounding board and keep you on track. Be someone’s sounding board too.
Adopting these tips as tiny habits in your life, will ensure that you are living your life fully and happily, and work towards becoming a better version of yourself, everyday.