How to Create Good Habits (and Eliminate Bad Ones) for Life
Originally published: 13/10/2017 14:53
Publication number: ELQ-77604-1
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How to Create Good Habits (and Eliminate Bad Ones) for Life

How To Create Good Habits (and Eliminate Bad Ones) for Life


All of us know too well that we should eat a healthy diet and to exercise, to check our smartphones and our email much less often, save more money and invest it better, take vacations and to rest more often, reduce stress, take walks and all the rest of the old “self-help canon.”

The trouble is, we’re slaves to habit and armed with excuses. Patience is rare and time is short. We’re too damned tired. The rent is too damned high. I need my TV time and beer and late-night pizza, discipline be damned.

And yet we know, successful people make success a habit. Bastards.

What does that mean, in practice, anyway, “success?”

Before I ever ventured into self-help territory, reading up on what makes those top performers so successful, I was lazy. Procrastination was an art form born out of escapism, lack of discipline and overarching sense of purpose except “living beautifully.” Attribute it to Artist’s License, if you will.

That’s why my first book took me seven years to write. Frankly, I drifted by in life on brains alone until I hit a wall. Becoming a New Yorker makes you quickly realize that all your brains are bested quickly by another’s hard work ethic.

Then came the Great Recession, a cool quarter million in high-interest student loans, plus a realization that The Law was not for me. After being unemployed for months and having to move back home with my Mom, I’d had enough of taking my own nonsense and decided to shape up. I’d reached a low and couldn’t stand myself, my crappy habits, lack of focus, purpose, and my general malaise.

That’s when I took upon myself to change, to see how all the true successes had arrived at where they were today. Since then, I’ve read at least ten thousand articles on habits, finding meaning, productivity and health, as well as how true wealth is made.

The more I read, the more I started to believe that discipline – a daily regimen created on a series of good habits over years – is really where success is built. It may be day by day and brick by brick, most boring, least exciting repetition, but it works!

This stood against the way I’d seen the world, the greatest works of art developed in great fits of inspiration. In practice, all the greatest artists had the same routines they built successfully for years. From then on, I decided that according to a Russian saying, “the slower you go, the farther you’ll get.” That’s been my guiding philosophy since then.

All of us like to mythologize successful athletes and entrepreneurs for their achievements. How do they do it? What’s their special sauce? What magic superpower does this one or that one have?

The answer, my friend, lies in the paradox of boring details. Whether it’s eating less or exercising more, taking walks or saving away money for retirement, good habits are not genetic and don’t attach themselves magically to successful people.

Neither are they forged from superhuman willpower or iron discipline only a few of us have. Building good habits lies in following a system consistently, day in and day out, in taking small steps and not expecting too much from yourself. It’s built on using reverse psychology on yourself, as well as turning around your own laziness and procrastination in your favor.

Here are the most common methods successful people use to create and sustain good habits and get rid of bad ones.

  • Step n°1 |

    Find a unifying purpose in life.

    Know that everything is connected and has meaning in life. Meditate on this each morning and remind yourself throughout the day.

    How to Create Good Habits (and Eliminate Bad Ones) for Life image
  • Step n°2 |

    Eliminate distractions.

    Take a digital or actual Sabbath each week when you remove devices from your life. Power down the phone at 7 PM and don’t check it until late next morning. NEVER check your phone first thing in the morning to enable focus and calm to think and plan for your day. Avoid becoming a slave to other people’s emails by checking email only at set times during the day (and never right when you sit down at your computer).

    How to Create Good Habits (and Eliminate Bad Ones) for Life image
  • Step n°3 |

    Value your time above all else.

    Get rid of things and people in your life that suck your time away without adding value. People will suddenly start to find your time valuable.

    How to Create Good Habits (and Eliminate Bad Ones) for Life image
  • Step n°4 |

    Learn to say no with confidence

     to eating and drinking things that are bad for you, to people that want to monopolize your time and to other “temptations” that arise out of your planned routine.

    How to Create Good Habits (and Eliminate Bad Ones) for Life image
  • Step n°5 |

    Take small steps every day

    Go for 1% improvement- rather than go for big wins – these don’t stick.
    NEVER expect overnight success with your goals – this never works.

    How to Create Good Habits (and Eliminate Bad Ones) for Life image
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