How To Establish a New Habit
In the back of your mind, every day, there is a goal that you want to accomplish.
Whether it’s a new strategy, a new business process or a personal change in your life; it sits back there, day after day, scratching at the door, wanting to be let out.
We keep that goal locked away because if we let it out, we may need to care for it and help it grow. We may need to find a way to accomplish it.
Let’s let it out. Let’s allow it to play. Let’s help it grow.
What is it that you want to accomplish?
A New Habit for a Healthier Lifestyle
For me, I want and need to establish a new habit for a healthier lifestyle. As a small firm entrepreneur architect working from home, it’s easy for me to roll down the stairs to my studio each day, sit down in my soft office chair and get to work, tapping the keyboard from morning to night.
Bad habits are easily formed when we are not intentional about establishing good ones.
For years I have been intentional about walking for my health. Each week, I have gotten out and walked for at least 40 minutes, three times each week. While walking a few times per week is better than not moving at all, the inconsistency doesn’t allow for a true habit to ever be formed. It’s always a struggle. It always feels like I am fitting my health in around the other important parts of my life.
Not until a habit is formed and the routine becomes engrained as part of my identity, will it ever become truly effective in my life.
My 10X Project
I’ve been intentional and established great habits in the past. This blog is one example which has lead to improvement in my life and my influence upon thousands of others. I know how to establish a new habit and its time to focus on my health (again).
So, this week I started a project to form a new habit for my health. It’s called my 10X Project.
Here are the 10 simple steps that I am taking to develop a new lasting habit for my health.
Step 1: Understand Your Why
Why do I want to establish a new habit for my health? I’ve tried to accomplish similar goals in the past and have had less than effective results.
I am 47 years old and I am not getting any younger. The work I do causes stress in my life, which results in aches and pains throughout my mind and body. The bottom line is that I am sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.
Yes. I want to live a long time and be there for my wife, my family and friends, but the true motivation; the “why” behind this new habit is purely selfish. I just want to feel better.
Step 2: Keep It Simple
So what makes this time any different than all the other times I have set out to live a healthier life?
This time I am following my mantra for the year, “Keep It Simple!” I am going to make this process so easy that it will be hard to fail.
Every week day, I will complete these 6 simple routines:
- 10 minutes of stretching,
- 10 push ups,
- 10 crunches,
- 10 minutes of walking,
- 10 minutes of running,
- 10 minutes of meditation,
- for 10 weeks.
My 10X Project is easy to remember and simple to accomplish. I’m committing to 10 push ups, not 50. Ten minutes of meditation, not 30. And the 10 minutes of running can be broken down into 5 two-minute segments.
My goal is not to be heathy. My goal is to establish a lasting habit of health, which will then lead to more progress and a stronger, healthier lifestyle. That’s what makes this time different than all the rest.
Step 3: Give your Project a Name
When your project has a name, it gives it life. It gives you something to reference and share with others. A name will brand your new project in your own mind and you will start to tell yourself a new story.
The 10X in the name 10X Project is not only a reference to the quantities of 10 used through the exercises, but is also a reference to the improvement I may experience when I accomplish my goal. Can I improve my health by 10X with a lasting new habit? Will this new habit lead to other habits that may improve other parts of my life?
The word Project is also intentional. Projects have a start and a finish. They have a specific objective with specific results. Projects often lead to other projects. My 10X Project keeps me focused on how and why I want to complete this project in my life.
Step 4: Set a Goal
In order to accomplish anything in life, we need to set a goal. Goals are specific and they are constrained with a deadline.
My goal is to establish a habit, not to be heathy. That’s what makes this time different than all the rest. Complete six simple exercises each weekday for 10 weeks. That’s it. This will lead to a new habit, with a desire and motivation to continue beyond my goal and a establish healthier lifestyle, which I will embrace for the rest of my life.
Step 5: Develop a Plan
Dr. Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, said, “Start with the end in mind.”
What does success look like 10 weeks from now? How do I feel? How has my mind and body changed? What other changes have resulted from this new habit?
In order to succeed, we need a plan. We need to give our project a simple structure with rules. What are we going to do? When are we going to do it? When will you have accomplished your goal?
What will happen if you miss a day? Life and work may get in the way. Don’t allow that to be an excuse to fail. Set parameters and allow for flexibility.
For me, I am committing to never miss two days in a row and as long as each of the 6 exercises are completed, it doesn’t matter where or how I execute them. Flexibility will give me the freedom to succeed.
Step 6: Track Your Progress
I am keeping a simple journal of my progress in Evernote. Again, I am keeping it simple. As I complete each exercise, I simply note the date and time. As I proceed, I will have a complete record of my accomplishment.
I am also tracking each day with a physical paper calendar on my wall. After I complete each day’s exercises, I will log the accomplishment with a big red X. Over time, I will see a chain develop of successful days and provide additional incentive to not miss a day. The visual cue will remind me… “Don’t break the chain!”
Step 7: Find Some Accountability
I am not one for volunteering my accountability, but I know that when we share our plan, we are more likely to achieve our goals.
This post as an exercise in that accountability. In hopes that I may inspire to you to establish your own new habit, I am sharing my plans here in the blog.
I’m not looking for anyone to hold my feet to the fire. Just by sharing my plans, it makes it more real and I am more likely to continue through times of pain or procrastination.
Step 8: Take Advantage of Life’s Cycles
Each season in our life brings a new cycle. For me, with the kids’ schools closed and summer activities starting up for the kids, it’s a perfect time for me to start a new routine.
My schedule is full, so adding more to my daily calendar just makes consistency and commitment more difficult.
A new summer schedule for the kids, with early morning drop offs for sports camps and swim teams, allows me to easily add my new routine to my new schedule. I need to be out of bed earlier anyway in my role as Dad and driver to camp, so using this time to complete my routine will make it easier than trying to fit this new item into my current daily routine.
Step 9: Reward Yourself
Having a reward at the end, will give me more incentive and motivation to push past the pain. Even during the exercises, I use simple rewards to get the job done. When running (something I have never been good at), I break the one big 10 minute segment into smaller two minute segments. In addition to making the exercise easier to complete, it also provides for 5 simple rewards. Each time the 2 minutes is up, I get to walk and enjoy the sounds and sites of the trail on which I’m running.
When I am finished with all six tasks, I reward myself with a ice cold smoothie filled with fruits and vegetables. As I sit back on my patio to watch the birds, frogs and chipmunks, my smoothie provides for a positive physical and psychological end point to each session.
Step 10: Celebrate
My biggest reward will be in 10 weeks when I have accomplished my goal and a new habit is well established in my life. That will be when we really celebrate.
By setting a deadline and planning a celebration, I will have something to look forward to and something to mark the significant accomplishment of establishing a new healthy habit in my life.
I am not expecting to become a triathlete or have the ripped abs of my dreams. I just want to feel better and live a healthier life for as long as God plans for me to be on this earth.
Just doing it; just completing the exercises each day will lead to a habit and the habit itself is the goal. Healthy habits are “cornerstone habits.” With this new habit formed, it will lead to great improvements in my health and elsewhere in my life.
Question: Do you want to establish a new habit?
Visit the The EntreArchitect Community Facebook Group and share your plan? Let’s do this together.
See you in 10 weeks.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock / FOTOKITA