Consider the postage stamp. It has one singular goal. It remains focused. This focus was a habit it developed in the face of fear. The fear of living its home and other family of stamps, but it knows that in order to get what you want out of life, you must push through in order to create the life you want, not settle for life that is given to you.
Let’s face it, trying to replace bad habits with good ones is not easy, but it is surely worth it.
It can be tempting to try to change everything in your life immediately. You tell yourself, ‘This week I’m going to stop smoking, stop swearing, stop staying up too late at night, start exercising, start eating better, and start calling my parents.’ But trying to reach all your goals at the same time is a sure way to reach none of them!
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Work on your habits in realistic increments. The following steps may help:
1. Create two lists—a list of good habits that you would like to build and a list of any bad habits that you need to get rid of. Do not limit yourself; on each list, write down as many as you can think of.
2. Prioritize the items on your lists, numbering them in the order of importance to you.
3. Choose a few habits—even just one or two—from each list, and focus on those. Then move on to the next one or two habits on each of your lists.
Speed up the process by replacing a bad habit with a good one. In his book, Rich Habits - The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals, Tom Corley outlines several habits that distinguish successful individuals. Some of those habits as outlined in his book are:
1. Successful people form daily good habits and follow these good habits every single day.
2. Successful people set goals and create a plan to reach those goals.
3. Successful people devote time each day to self-improvement.
4. Successful people manage their consumption of food and engage in regular exercise.
5. Successful people foster, grow and improve their relationships with others every day.
6. Successful people do everything in moderation. No extreme behaviors.
7. Successful people do not procrastinate and have “Do It Now” mindset.
8. Successful people engage in rich thinking every day. They are positive and enthusiastic.
9. Successful people pay themselves first by putting ten percent of their salary into savings and retirement plans.
10. Successful people are the masters of their thoughts and emotions.
In his book, Corley invites you to take out a sheet of paper and list your bad habits in one column and then invert each one to place under a new column for good habits. It should look like this:
Bad Habit/Good Habit
I watch too much TV. I limit myself to one hour of TV per day.
I don’t remember names. I write down names and remember them.
Then for 30 days, follow the guidance of your new good habits list. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish.
Next, make it harder to do the wrong thing. For example, in sticking with our television scenario, if you want to watch less TV, keep the TV unplugged and put it far out of reach, that way when you are tempted to watch more of it than you should, you won’t feel like it because of all the extra effort that will be required.
The next step, is to make it easier to do the right thing. For instance if you plan to exercise first thing in the morning, set your exercise clothing next to your bed the night before. The easier it is to get started, the more likely you are to follow through.
Set up Triggers
According to my mentor, Brendon, when it comes to mastering and maintaining good habits, the best thing to do is to set up triggers. He calls it trigger moments.
He gives the following scenario on his website.
Let’s say you want to become a better person. You want to become more kind, more patient, more loving with people.
Now, you can just set that intention or write that down in your journal or set up on a vision board that you look at once in a while, but in day-to-day life, it’s not enough.
You need things to trigger you, to remind you to be that particular kind of person.
Brendon suggests that you use your alarm on your phone to help set up these triggers in your life. Simply set up on your phone three alarms during the day with a label that say whatever it is you want to change such as:
· Close your eyes, take ten deep breaths in, and remind myself to be calm
· Be compassionate, patient and kind
· Go for a 10-minute walk
As you go through your hectic day, you might forget to put these new habits into practice, but as soon as your alarm goes off, you’ll grab your phone to quiet it and you will see the labels prompting you to do the habits you want to do. Then it happens again and again all throughout the day. These triggers are helping you to actually become the person you to be.
These trigger moments will remind you throughout your day to enact that new behavior. Another trigger Brendon uses is called the doorframe trigger. This trigger happens whenever you walk into a new room that has a doorframe. A trigger goes off in your mind that you’ve associated with that doorframe.
You can use this doorframe trigger when you walk into your office or into any room you walk into. As soon as you do, those three words will be triggered in your mind.
If you do this enough times on a continual basis, you will stick to your habits even more.
“What are the trigger moments you could set up during the day to keep you on track?”
And there you have it. If you want to go deeper with me on this subject, sign up for my Free Academy Training when you check out my book, How a Postage Stamp Saved My Life.