We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Will Durant
All the little things you do every day make up your habits.
And did you know that habits are the little daily routine actions that can be the difference between failure and success (yes, it’s that serious!)?
Habits don’t require a lot of motivation. Instead, the right habits put discipline in your life.
When I’m in the habit of going to the gym, I go because I’m used to going every day. However, when I fall out of that habit, it takes so many motivational pep-talks to get me there.
Another example is how I get up at 5am every day. This is actually easy for me now. I don’t even think about it because it’s a habit. I’m used to doing it, and I don’t need the motivation anymore (fun fact, I get up at 5am to blog before work!).
The right habits make accomplishing your goals easier and more likely. Habits take the decision-making out of the equation. Instead, habits create repetition and lessen the need for willpower.
Here are three of my fav quotes about habits that get at exactly what I’m talking about:
- “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Will Durant
- “How you do anything is how you do everything.” – T. Harv Eker, author of Secrets of the Millionaire Mind
- “Simple daily disciplines – little productive actions, repeated consistently over time – add up to the difference between failure and success.” – Jeff Olsen, The Slight Edge
These quotes hit right on the significance of habits. It’s your daily actions that will determine where you end up.
And depending on where you want to end up, you need to create the right habits in order to get there.
Here are more blog posts to get you started with habits:
- 11 Habits You Need To Stop
- Do This, Not That: 10 Habits You Should Adopt
- How To Plan Your Best Year Ever
How To Implement Habits
Habits are the small actions you do to make the big things happen.
What I mean is that your habits are the daily activities you do to achieve your goals and live your vision.
Here’s how you can implement habits…
- First, decide what your vision is (more on that here).
- Second, set goals that align with your vision (learn how to set goals here).
- Third, create a plan to achieve your goals.
- Finally, implement habits.
So, this post is the final step in the planning process – implementing habits.
Your habits will support your goals and your vision. They are the actions that will help you get from where you are now to where you want to be.
I get up at 5am to blog (my habit) because I set a goal to make money from my blog to repay my student loan debt because I want to achieve financial freedom (vision).
The right habits will enable you to achieve your goals and live in alignment with your vision.
Which Habits To Implement
To create the right habits that will enable you to succeed, you need to decide what habits you want to implement. You can’t wander into the right habits.
Assuming you’ve already 1) created a vision, 2) set goals, and 3) created a plan to achieve your goals, now it’s time for step 4 from above – implementing the right habits.
Implement habits that support your vision and goals by doing the following…
- Make a list of new, supportive habits that will help you achieve your goals (roughly 1-3 new habits for each goal). Ask yourself, “what daily actions will help me achieve my goal?”
- Make a list of the bad habits you currently do that do not help you. Ask yourself, “what daily actions are stalling me from reaching my goal?”
- Brainstorm how often and for how long each of your new habits will take (e.g.: 20 minutes every morning, 1 hour at night, etc.).
- Put your new habits on your calendar, with the time slots that you’ll do them (I use gCalendar for this – I’m obsessed!).
- Schedule a time to review your progress and reevaluate your habits in 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year.
Here’s a look at two examples to help show you what I’m talking about…
Vision: To live a fit and healthy lifestyle.
Goals: To lose15lbs and eat less processed food.
Plan: Meal plan, exercise, and learn about processed food.
- Read about food for 30 minutes Sunday–Thursday night before bed.
- Go straight to the gym after work Monday–Friday for 30 minutes of cardio.
- Spend 1 hour every Sunday morning planning meals for the week
- Cook for 3 hours Sunday evenings to prepare food for the week
- Pack lunches for work every evening after getting back from the gym
Vision: To achieve financial freedom
Goal: To pay off student loan debt, max out retirement accounts, and invest enough to retire by age 55.
Plan: Pay an additional $1,000 / month toward student loans, automate retirement savings, make extra money to fund an investment account.
- Have budget meetings with my spouse to review income and expenses every Saturday morning from 10am-11am.
- Stop spending money on drinks of any kind.
- Spend 30 minutes every night Monday–Friday reading articles about ways to make extra money.
- Spend 30 minutes every morning reading money management books.
- Schedule recurring automatic deposits into retirement accounts, investment account, and special savings account for making student loan payments.
- Limit entertainment spending to one night per month, which is scheduled ahead of time.
- Spend 30 minutes after work Monday–Friday applying for higher paying jobs.
These are two examples you can use to help you understand what the difference is between a vision, goal, plan, and habit. However, there is no one right way. Your habits will look different from everyone else’s because your life is unique.
A few tips to go along with the advice above…
1. Don’t try to implement extreme habits right away. Take baby steps. For example, if you don’t work out at all, set a habit of going to the gym and running 1 mile every day. Don’t set a habit of running 5 miles every day. Take baby steps with your habits, so you’re more likely to follow through.
2. Use your calendar as much as possible. Put your habits on your calendar until they’re second nature to you. For example, if one of your habits is to go to the gym right after work, put “Gym 5:30-6:30” on your calendar as a recurring event M-F. Treat this as an appointment that you wouldn’t break.
3. Use The Productivity Planner. The Productivity Planner is an insanely amazing task manager that I’m obsessed with. The Productivity Planner helps you prioritize and accomplish the most important tasks that make your day satisfying. The Productivity Planner assists you to get better work done in less time. It’s not free, but you can get started with a free PDF: Productivity Planner Quick Start PDF.
4. Write down your habits. Write down your habits (use Evernote from above). Don’t just think about them. The more concrete they are, the more clarity you will have, and the more likely you are to do them.
5. Change your habits if they’re not working for you. You have a specific vision and goals, so if you find that the habits you’re doing aren’t actually moving you toward those things, then change them. Don’t hesitate to adjust what you’re doing – just be intentional about it.
6. Use a habit tracker app, like HabitMinder. This is an app that tracks your habits, which I highly recommend!
A Final Note!
The right habits will enable you to achieve your biggest goals. The wrong habits will destroy your dreams.
Take the advice above and 1) create a vision, 2) set goals, 3) create a plan to implement your goals, and 4) implement supportive habits.
If you do this process, you won’t need constant motivation. Instead, you’ll be disciplined in the right habits and you will succeed.
If it’s working for me, and it can work for you, too!