Around five years ago I started on an exciting journey of self-development, it’s been challenging but also seriously rewarding. Since I started, some ‘side-effects’ have been - improved self-confidence, new friends, increased stamina, shinier healthier hair, clearer skin, improved sleep and more.
Last month I decided to quit alcohol (second attempt). A busy schedule, children, modern day living and a home to keep all kept me in stress mode - alcohol was my way of unwinding in the evening. But I definitely felt the negative effects; drinking made it difficult for me to wake up each morning, I felt really below par – and before you judge...this was the effect from one glass, not ½ a bottle!
This one habit change has gained me an extra 42 hours per month. I recon that’s amazing - it’s almost an extra week of full-time work. My before looked like this: waking with the alarm clock at 8.30am still feeling tired and heavy. My after looks like: I wake naturally at 6.45am feeling refreshed - this is just so exciting for me . . . I have my mornings back.
Disclaimer alert . . . . just to let you know, I do occasionally revert to some of my bad habits, and sometimes I even plan for them. For example, I’ve bought myself a bottle of organic vino for my birthday next month. These days I aim for the golden mean, not perfection - as with anything, it’s the things you do consistently that get results.
Logic says, it’s obvious why you’d want to improve on your habits - bad habits interrupt your life, hinder you from reaching your highest potential, put your health at risk and waste both your time and your energy. But applying yourself and making a change can be tricky, which is why I’m sharing with you some of my tips on how I improved my daily habits. They may not work for everyone, and if you’ve a serious addiction you may need to speak to a qualified doctor or naturopath before making any changes.
In order not to fall back into old habits, it’s also really important to look at the underlying reasons why you developed your habit in the first place. Scientific research indicates that it’s usually a result of stress or boredom, so you may need to work on why you’re getting stressed, bored or whatever if you want long term success...
Another scientific finding is that we only have a certain amount of will power so, if you think you can rely on willpower alone to change, think again. Steve Jobs, one of the most successful businessmen in the world, only dresses in black; every – single – day. This is to reduce the amount of decisions he has to make each day. Entrepreneur and best-selling author, Timothy Ferris, eats the same breakfast every day for the same reason.
Create a strategy, like a daily routine, to avoid the insignificant choices you need to make and you’ll have more willpower for the more important decisions that come along.
If you can replace an old habit with a new one that provides a similar benefit, the new habit will occupy the space left by the old. Often the habits will be incompatible, which also helps, like quitting smoking and replacing it with running.
A great example of this is a story of a friend of mine. Years ago, he was dared to enter a marathon. If you knew him at the time you’d think there was no way he’d have a chance; he was a real party person and loved to drink a LOT of alcohol. Despite this, he decided to take on the dare but, after trying, soon realised he was going to have to quit some of his bad habits. I’m glad to say he succeeded in the challenge and has gone on to train and run in many more marathons. In fact, he now raises money for orphanages in Africa through his marathon running, he is an incredible inspiration to all who know him.
Years ago I had such a sweet tooth that if there were biscuits in the cupboard I’d eat them. To make things easier for myself I decided not to have any sweets anywhere in the house. These days, with a more balanced blood sugar, I can have biscuits sitting in the cupboard for months - I don’t even think about them.
Make it easier for your-self to break a habit by avoiding the things that cause them.
Why do you want to change your habit(s)? If it’s to be healthier, then think of yourself as a healthy person (even if you’re not at the moment), eating unhealthily is not going to align with your new set of beliefs about yourself.
If I think about how much I gain by not drinking alcohol and who I want to be as a person, that’s enough to stop me. I remind myself of the positive rewards I gain by not drinking - I wake up earlier, feel brighter, feel better overall, and am able to be my best each day.
An anchor is something you do every day, like brushing your teeth, putting your shoes on, going to bed, etc. You can use anchors to remind yourself of the new habit you want to introduce. Let’s say you want to start flossing your teeth - you could use applying toothpaste to your toothbrush as an anchor.
Using an example from a previous journal – ‘Can Mindfulness Help Deal with Procrastination and Increase Your Mental Clarity’. Anna Zubrzycki drinks lemon water each morning; she uses this routine to remind her to practice mindfulness.
I truly believe the power of small daily actions can be can life changing. A great example is an aeroplane’s flight path - an aeroplane has a destination, but most of the time it’s actually flying off-course; it’s only because of many small adjustments along the way that it gets to its destination.
As always, this article was written with gratitude for all the wise friends, family and mentors who have helped guide me this far ~ I couldn't have done it without you.
~ Now it’s your time!
With love and gratitude,
P.S. If you found this months’ journal useful or have any tips, I’d love to hear from you – just leave your feedback in the comments below.
Great article, thank you for sharing x
May 19, 2018
Great info and nicely said – thanks for sharing! :-)
May 16, 2018