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“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” ~ Aristotle

Many of us look for the ‘secret sauce’ to success but the secret sauce is really what we do every day.  The little, seemingly unimportant activities that soon add up over time.

The Bloom philosophy is all about the Long Game!  Flourishing doesn’t happen overnight, it’s very much a journey. But I love to find ways of making that journey as easy and painless as possible and I believe that cultivating positive daily habits is a sure-fire way to make your journey to success a lot easier!

What exactly are habits?

They’re the things we do on autopilot every day, without really having to think about them.  Waking up and checking your phone first thing in the morning? That’s a habit.  Getting up and making your bed (or not!)?  Habit.  Brushing your teeth?  Another habit.  Probably even the way you brush your teeth is a habit – starting on one particular side of your mouth perhaps, the manner in which you actually brush your teeth, we do this without really consciously thinking.

And so it goes throughout the day, most of our actions are a series of habits.  The route you to take to work / school or wherever you go.  What you eat for lunch.  How you spend your time.  The things you do out of habit every day saves your brain from having to think hard about every little thing you do, it’s far easier to automate many of the routine things you do instead, like tying your shoelaces or starting your car.

Become aware of your daily habits

So what habits fill your typical day?  Chances are you’re not even fully aware of them yourself and that’s because you don’t give much thought to these things when you’re doing them!  To become consciously aware of what habits fill your day, it’s a great idea to make a note throughout your day of exactly what you’re doing from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep.  Because we do most of these things without thinking, consciously taking the time to track your habits can be a real eye opener!  You might find that you spend an hour or two aimlessly scrolling through social media Every Single Morning.  That’s 7-14 hours hours a week.  30-60 hours a month.  See how seemingly small habits soon stack up?  Or maybe you find that every mid-morning you make yourself a cup of tea and reach for the biscuit packet by default.  And devour half of the contents!  Or flop on the sofa every evening and spend five hours binge-watching Netflix.  Take notes of your daily habits for at least a week, ideally two and you’ll soon see interesting trends emerging!  And this is also where you realise that all the seemingly insignificant things you do every day, compounded over a long period of time, can end up harvesting BIG results.  Your aim, of course, is to harvest GOOD results which will stem from GOOD habits!

Once you become aware of your daily habits, it’s time to take control and decide what habits you want to develop going forward instead of being at the mercy of the habits you’ve already programmed into your brain.  Hopefully you do already have some good habits going and that’s great, you want to continue building on those!  Now it’s time think of other positive habits that will help you get to where you want to be.

 Use a habits tracker

I love a good old checklist to keep me laser focused on what I need to do and for this reason I created my very own Habits Tracker, which is now part of my Born to Flourish® planner-journal as a tool for my planner-journal users to make use of.  It’s a simple one pager, covering a one month period, where I can think about and then write down the habits I want to practice daily that month and then check them off each day that I actually practice the habit.

Using this habits tracker serves two main purposes – firstly, I print and stick the habits tracker up on my office (or bedroom) wall where I will see it every day; this reminds me what I need to be doing, what I need to be spending my time on and that I need to check this off by the end of each day as having been done!  Secondly, as I check off my habits each day, the patterns and trends that start to emerge make it crystal clear to me where I’m doing well and where I’m slacking and need to improve.  That way I know which areas to focus on more the following month.

You can download my Habits Tracker for FREE using the link below – it’s a huge help to keep you focused on the activities you should be spending your time on!  I print and use this every month and would be rather lost without it 😊

 

So how do you decide what habits to write down and track?

Your habits vs the bigger picture / your goals

I personally like to link my habits to the goals I am trying to achieve, so looking at your longer-term goals – the bigger picture – is a great place to start.

What are your goals, what are you trying to achieve?  Once you know what your bigger goals are, you can then decide what daily habits will help you take steps towards those goals. 

So, for example, if one of your goals is to get into the best shape of your life in the next 12 months, what daily habits would you need to practice to achieve that goal?  Maybe habits relating to your diet, sleep and exercise?  Under ‘diet’, you could decide to form a habit of drinking 2 litres of water every day.  Under ‘exercise’ you could decide to form a habit of doing at least 30 minutes of intense exercise every day – or go to the gym at least 3 times a week.  Under ‘sleep’ you could make it a habit to be in bed by 10pm every night.  That’s already 3 daily habits you have linked to your longer-term goal of getting into the best shape of your life.  You could, of course, add more habits that will support that goal!

Perhaps another goal of yours is to start a side hustle to make extra money.  What sort of habits could you develop and track every day linked to this side hustle goal?  Wake up an hour earlier to get in an extra hour of building up your side hustle?  Listening to at least 3 good podcasts a week to learn new skills?

I’m sure you get the idea now! 

By thinking of your key goals, writing down in your habits tracker the habits that will take you in the direction of those goals, and then tracking those habits each month, you will find yourself in a much better position to achieve your goals!  Or – perhaps you have a shorter-term goal that still needs your daily habits tracked.  Perhaps you’re training for a run that’s a month or two away and you want a rock-solid routine to help you get into the best possible shape for race day – you can use the habits tracker to write down all the daily habits you need to practice every day until race day.

Recommended reading to help you develop good habits

I absolutely believe that our daily habits are one of the key factors to achieving success, to reaching our goals and dreams.  I highly recommend that you read James Clear’s book Atomic Habits – this book is an absolute must-read if you want to learn how to develop positive habits AND stop the pesky negative habits!  As you work through your habits tracker and you find that you’re really struggling with some habits, this book will give you the tools you need to nail those habits.  And once you nail your habits, you will find it soo much easier to reach your goals and dreams. 

I plan to do a book review soon on ‘Atomic Habits’ so watch this space!

And … don’t forget to download your FREE Habits Tracker above!