“Cultivating a Habit of Success”
December 29, 2017
“I just don’t feel like it.”
All of us have said it one time or another. Most the time, we probably make up excuses or argue within ourselves about how much we should be doing something (going to the gym, getting things done around the house, keeping a commitment, etc.) and then shortly argue back with excuses as to why we can’t follow through. One of the most frustrating things about excuses is that many times they are valid! Going to the gym isn’t easy. Doing our “chores” isn’t fun. Following through on something that we promised someone when we have a million other things to be doing, is hard. However valid they may be, it is excuses that keep us from becoming the person that we want to be.
We are what we consistently do.
Ever since I was a kid, my father had us memorize a saying at an early age that says it perfectly, “I am a result of the decisions that I made today. Therefore, tomorrow, I will be a result of the decisions I make today”. Who we are is based upon what we consistently do. We refer to these repeated actions as habits. So that means if we consistently don’t follow through, we are cultivating a habit of giving up and thereby becoming someone that cannot complete tasks. In contrast, if we consistently do what we say we are going to do we cultivate a habit of discipline, and thereby become one whose life will be full of achievement. One of life’s laws is that whatever we become in one area of our life, will inevitably flow into other areas of our lives. A habit of self-discipline in the gym, will flow into your career in the form of time management, follow through, and yield increased opportunity.
As we move into the new year, most of us will set New Year’s resolutions to help accomplish exciting things. My challenge is to, instead of making a list of things to do, strive to form habits and thereby become. There are three things that I want to share which if applied properly, will help in forming these habits.
1. Don’t delay.
Our brain is programmed to prevent us from doing anything that would cause us harm or difficulty. Generally, it takes our brain about 5 seconds to process information to be able to kick in and tell us not to do something that will be uncomfortable. So I would challenge you that when you set a goal to do something, that you do it without delay. To illustrate, someone who wants to become more productive and sets a goal to wake up early each day. To do this they should get out of bed, right when the alarm goes off. As tempting as it might be to stay in bed just 5 more minutes, we all know that 5 minutes easily turns into 1 hour and before we know it we have 10 minutes before we are supposed to be at work. Getting out of bed right when the alarm goes off will prevent your brain from even getting the chance to tempt you to stay in bed.
2. The best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.
Discipline is in many ways no different than a muscle. For someone who has never been in a gym before, and lacks physical stamina, it would be outrageous for them to one day wake up and say to themselves “I am going to go run a marathon” and then be disappointed when they fail to finish. Yet, so many people who are not well acquainted with setting goals and lacking in self-discipline, decide that if they set an enormous goal, they will somehow find motivation and self-discipline to be able to achieve it. My advice would be to start small and set achievable goals that you know are possible and to FOLLOW THROUGH. For many people, this is difficult because they are more concerned about getting the prize at the finish line, than the habits they can potentially develop. You are your most valuable investment. You are your habits.
3. Optimism is key.
Most people drop their New Years resolutions before March, if not sooner. I think this is because they are so caught up in how difficult it is and that things are progressing so slowly. This is when our brain starts to kick in and tell us that this can’t possibly be good for us so it makes more sense to give up. Then we find ourselves next new year setting the same goal that we should’ve followed through last year, and as a result, we have not become any better. I would challenge you when things get tough to look at things that have improved. Look at the positive, don’t get fixated on the bad things that haven’t changed yet. If you can focus on the positive, and the things that have changed, then it will motivate you to keep pushing and eventually obtain your goal.
This year, instead of changing what you are doing, I challenge you to change who you are. By doing so, you will find far more happiness in achievement, and you will more easily become the person that you envision yourself becoming.