When you want to change your life it usually takes several (hundred) attempts. That’s because about 99 percent of what we do every day is automated by our subconscious. Unless you stick to a new habit long enough and transfer it from your conscious mind to your subconscious… well, let’s just say the outcome isn’t pretty. You won’t end up living in a van down by the river, but you’ll feel like just as big a failure.
I could tell you that in order to change your life you need to get up earlier. I could tell you to exercise more. I could even pull a Captain Obvious and tell you to eat healthier – but I won’t. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my epic fails in these departments, it’s that you need to change your smaller bad habits before you tackle the larger ones. Otherwise, they’ll sabotage your progress and your confidence will plummet… and you might seriously end up living in a van down by the river.
Automate the 11 habits below (don’t worry, they’re super easy), and you’ll have cleared enough debris to tackle larger changes with more energy and efficiency:
1. Check your email… standing up
Email is one of the biggest time sucks we have to contend with. Change your email habits, change your life. If you check your email while standing, you’ll be less likely to get sidetracked – you know, because you’ll really really want to sit down. You’ll focus on your priorities and briskly move on with your day.
2. Stop saying you’re tired
While this is a tiny habit, it’s amazing the impact it has on your well-being. When you focus on how tired you are, and talk about it, and then nod along to stories about how tired your friend is – well, it’s exhausting isn’t it? Yawn.
3. Stop answering calls/texts/emails right away
Answer the phone only when you’re expecting a call or if you legitimately have time to answer; the same goes for your texts and emails. When your concentration’s constantly broken, not only will your productivity suffer but so will your poor, tired brain (which will lead to more of #2).
4. Master saying “no”
If that doesn’t work, say you already have plans. If that doesn’t work, fake an illness. If that doesn’t work, completely ignore the 10,000 phone calls they’re making and the 53,000 texts they’re sending to try and change your mind. When it comes to taking control of how you spend your time, ignoring can be very good for the soul.
5. Consume less, execute more
It’s important to stop talking about how you want to change your life, and, you know, start changing it. Make yourself a deal: For however many minutes you spend on learning about your goal, spend the same number practicing it.
6. Utilize the power of one
One email address, one bank account, one credit card, one step at at time… you’ll be surprised how much simpler your day will become and how much energy you’ll have to spare.
7. Ditch what you dread
Seriously, why do we always have time for what we don’t like, but never time for what we do? My only theory is that we’re taught to see work as dreadful drudgery, so any time we’re enjoying ourselves we feel as if we haven’t “earned” it. This is a load of crap. Take a page from every player you’ve ever dated and do a slow fade.
8. Tidy your home before bed
How are you supposed to make yourself a healthy breakfast when all that’s clean is one fork? There are very few things worse than waking up to clutter – it’s not how to start your day. If you want to change your life you have to dispose of yesterday’s leftovers (both figuratively and literally).
9. Use cash instead of debit/credit
If your money disappears so fast you haven’t even deposited your check yet, use cash to run your errands. You’ll stop going over budget, which means you’ll stop pulling your hair out when it’s time to do your bookkeeping.
10. Stop impatience in its tracks
What’s the rush exactly? Perpetual restlessness might seem normal, but in the long-term can trigger a smorgasbord of serious health problems. When you’re trying to focus and your mind wanders, cut it off: Remind yourself to be mindful. Tell yourself you’re working on this one task and nothing else exists until it’s done. Period.
11. Use the five-minute rule
When you really, really, really don’t want to do something, tell yourself you’re only going to do it for five minutes. No big deal, right? This will get you started, and I guarantee you’ll keep going long past five minutes. This is a skill that will see you through every aspect of how you want to change your life.
Ready to get started?
Experts say it takes anywhere from 21 to 66 days to solidify a new habit. If thinking that far ahead gives you chest pains… well, then don’t. In the short-term, use the “instead of” technique: When you feel compelled to indulge in one of your bad habits, indulge in a good one instead.
Instead of watching television, crack open a book. Instead of going through the drive-thru, pick up a ready-made meal from the grocery store. Instead of putting off cleaning the bathroom, dive in – you know, before it becomes a bio hazard.
Before you know it, your conscious mind and subconscious will be getting along like the Goofy Gophers: “Indubitably!”
What daily habits are helping change your life?
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