The habits that we have today create the person we will be tomorrow. They are a form of delayed gratification. A pay off in the long term. Over the past few years there have been some great books published about habit change, such as James Clear’s ‘Atomic Habits‘. Many of us would like our future to be better. For us to be a better version of ourselves, and that involves changing our daily habits.
Before we do that though we need to look at what habits we are currently practising. What effect they are having on our daily lives? What future are they creating for us? Are they helping us move towards the person that we want to be?
If you want to change your habits I’ve got some great advice about where to start. It’s by Tom Corley from his book Rich Habits Poor Habits.
As I said above, before you begin to develop good habits you need to assess the habits that you already have, good or bad.
Tom Corley recommends that for three days you carry around a notepad or make notes on your phone, of every activity, thought or decision, that is a daily habit. You will know that something is a habit as you will find yourself repeating it every day. Over the years many habits will have become ingrained into your personality and you might not even think of them as habits – how many cups of coffee you drink in a day, how much time you spend on social media, what you eat for breakfast.
If you don’t want to carry around a notepad all day, take the time at the end of the day to journal. Think through everything you did from when you got up. If you do that for several days patterns will begin to emerge. You will be able to see the activities that come up repeatedly and those will be your habits.
Turn negative habits into positive ones
Once you have created your list of habits then you need to decide whether each one is a positive or a negative habit. It may also not be as clear cut as positive or negative. If you’re struggling to decide which ones you want to keep and which you want to change then think about your future self. Which habits are helping you to move towards the person you want to be and which ones are preventing that?
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Once you’ve got your list of negative habits the next task is to invert them i.e. turn them into good habits that you can foster.
Here are some examples:
‘I watch too much TV’ becomes ‘I limit myself to one hour of TV per day’.
‘I don’t do any exercise’ becomes ‘I walk for 15 minutes every day’.
Track your new habits
Now comes the hard part. For 30 days try to follow your new good daily habits. Review them in the morning, at lunch time and at bedtime in order to remind yourself of them and assess how you are doing.
I would suggest setting up a habit tracker, i.e. a calendar with the habits listed and then each day you can tick off the ones that you have achieved. It’s good to look back over the tracker at the end of the month to review your progress. If you manage to do something every day for a month you’ll have made a good start to it becoming a habit.
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