Bad Habits are like…

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Focus on Healthy Habits and Projects in Your Daily Routine by Alex Sal

This is a guest post from Alex Sal from New York.  

habitsHealthy habits and projects have life-changing potential. Both help to accelerate the process of achieving virtually all your goals because they require self-discipline, which is a quality that can be applied in all facets of life. In addition to this (as if that were not enough) healthy habits and projects also help reduce stress. And, who does not need to reduce stress?

After all, we all live in a fast-paced, highly demanding, stressful age. It’s an epoch where a multitude of demands are being made on our time, and we have a plethora of choices. Sadly, time is finite. You can’t increase it. But, you can manage yourself better by inserting healthy habits and projects into your daily rituals. The truth is that many people struggle with this – they’re easily distracted.

It’s your lucky day, if you sit a spell with me, we’ll explore how to focus on ritualizing healthy habits and projects?

So, let’s focus on the task at hand. Let’s take a step back and ask ourselves what it means to focus. It’s quite simple, really, to focus on something means “to pay particular attention” to it.

The following are a few proven strategies:

  1. Leverage visualization and planning
  2. Use the power of frequency
  3. Destroy distractions
  4. Track your progress

 

1) Leverage visualization and planning

Visualization and planning are superpowers if you’d like to easily ritualize healthy habits and projects. You’d need to start by consciously creating new patterns. At first blush, visualization feels a tad like daydreaming, and some people may dismiss it. The truth is that there’s scientific evidence to show that it’s effective.

Consider that everything that manifests in our lives starts in our minds as pictures. When we visualize, we’re steering our attention in a particular direction. The images we generate can be so powerful they feel like virtual reality. When this is done regularly, and coupled with planning, inserting healthy rituals become easier because we’re engaging both parts of our brains to harness and direct where our energies flow. Planning makes it easier because we are providing clear instructions to ourselves.

Visualize your path and don’t let the concept of failure get in the way.

2) Use the Power of Frequency

Have you ever wondered how you could easily recall your favorite songs? It’s due to the power of repetition. It’s very easy for what we repeat to stick. The more we try to do those things the more we’re building neural pathways that make it easy to reproduce them with ease in the future. When you repeat your goals, you’re telling your brain your priorities. As you know, prioritization is a fundamental ingredient for being able to focus.

So, consciously block out time on your calendar for healthy habits and projects. Set reminders on your computer, tablet and mobile phone. Create posters with reminders and put them in different parts of your office and home. Create musical triggers – you could select 3 of your favorite classical recordings and mentally associate them with three major habits and projects you’re trying to insert into your life. Ideally, you want music that’d galvanize you. Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” is a great example. So, each time you hear this song, for example, you’d know it’s time to go jogging or time to start writing that manuscript that you’ve been putting off since the 80s.

3) Eliminate Distractions

If we are honest, a lot of people know what to do, to ritualize healthy habits and projects. Distractions are what many struggle with. In fact, most of us struggle with it. Just as we can consciously create new patterns, we must consciously avoid, reduce, or destroy those things that lure us away from a more evolved version of ourselves.

It could be television, it could be social media, it could be binge-watching movies…It’s actually relative. A scriptwriter, for example, may need to be watching a lot of movies. We need to realize how vital the concept of opportunity cost is. The time we spend on X, is the same time that could have been spent on Y. Let’s suppose Mr. M wants to be a software developer or work in organization design consulting but spends most of his time on activities that do not move him towards his goal. What’s likely going to happen to his dream of being a software developer? It’s the same for us. We must consciously and regularly ask ourselves if our activities are fuel for our main goals or if they’re subtly and slowly killing them.

4) Track Your Progress

It’s important to regularly compare our realities to what we visualized. If at the beginning of the year, you envisioned a fitter and healthier you, and every month you use an app to check some of your activities and stats – if you’re on the right track – this will serve as a stimulus for you to continue on the path. It would serve as positive reinforcement for you to accentuate your focus on ritualizing healthy habits and projects. You would find it easier to be fixated on the healthy habits – the record of your progress will be highly motivating – because at the end of the day, leaders take their time but leaders light a fire.

Conclusion

We’ve explored some of the strategies to help you focus on ritualizing healthy habits and projects. Interestingly, it’s not difficult. It all starts with making a firm choice. It starts with envisioning a better you.

What are the main challenges you experience when trying to focus?

Alex Salcioglu

Alex Sal is a business journalist, startup entrepreneur, and frequent contributing writer for Markitors.com. He is also a recent graduate of economics from Queens College.

What You Don’t Say Matters by Jim Johnson

If you yelled for 8 years, 7 months, and 6 days, you would have produced enough sound energy to heat one cup of coffee.  (from The Book of Useless Information)

I believe in coaching.  I read about it.  I talk about it.  I spend intentional time observing my leadership team as they coach.  Effective coaching works.

Here is one thing I have learned about coaching:  what you don’t say matters.

Many of us can easily fall into the trap of doing most if not all of the talking during a coaching session with one of our team members.  We are passionate about what is going on.  We want the best performance from our team member.  And in our exuberance, we talk too much. We truly believe we are doing the right thing but all we are accomplishing is taking one slow step towards heating up a cup o’ Joe. As a leader, you need to generate a lot more energy towards performance and results than this.

How do you combat this tendency of many coaches?  Ask more questions. 

In your prep time, create intentional questions you need to ask your team member to get a bottom-line issues.  Here are some samples I’ve used in teaching coaching with coaches:

1.     What is happening now (what, who, when, and how often)? What is the affect or result of this?
2.     How have you already taken any steps towards your goal?
3.     How would you describe what you did?
4.     Where are you now in relation to your goal?
5.     On a scale of one to ten where are you?
6.     What has contributed to your success so far?
7.     What progress have you made so far?
8.     What is working well right now?
9.     What is required of you?
10.  Why haven’t you reached that goal already?
11.  What do you think is stopping you?
12.  What do you think was really happening?
13.  Do you know other people who have achieved that goal?
14.  What did you learn from _____?

Let’s commit to halt the “brewing” of future coffee.  Listen more.  Think more.  Ask more. Talk less.

old coffee brewer

I Read to Grow

I have set reading goals for 3 years now. The past two years, my goal was to read 12 books in a year. I did that two years ago. Last year I read 18 books. This year my goal is 24. I’m on my 8th currently.

I read about leadership, marketing, habits, biographies, and self-development. This is the book I just started last evening. I’ve read Dr. Helmstetter’s book What Do You Say When You Talk to Yourself. In fact, I’ve read and re-read it.

This new book is proving to be great as well.

“Your brain is changed by the thoughts you think. You can rewire your brain.”

I’m 59 years old. This thought brings me great hope! I can learn more. I can become more. You can, too!

I encourage you to live a life of learning. It’s not too late to start. For me, I learn most through reading. But there are seminars, continuing education, blogs, podcasts, mastermind groups…the list goes on. We have more resources available to us than ever before. Pick one and dig in.

You and I can become better. Go for it!