Positive Habits of Successful People
Over time, almost everyone develops negative habits…making excuses, hitting the snooze button three times, checking Facebook one more time before finishing a task. A key to building positive habits is to replace the negative ones. Negative habits always break you down, never build you up.
1. Start New Self Talk
If the self-talk sounds like "I didn't have enough time" or "It's cold out. I'll skip today," new self-talk needs to be a priority. Since thoughts are on automatic pilot, they pop up without any effort. You must put effort into changing them. Each time such a negative thought comes up, change it: "Yes, I decided not to do that then, but I have time now." If a feeling of guilt or shame accompanies the thought, spend a moment being aware of the feeling, and then say "Stop it. I make my own choices. I am responsible."
The automatic thoughts are there to create those feelings so that you take no action. It's a distraction from the goal, so you spend energy beating yourself up or wallowing in self-pity. The feelings are false emotions, based only on irrelevant material—a replay of an old experience, certainly not relevant now.
2. Make Amends
If you really did do something that causes you guilt, go to the person and apologize. Ask what you can do to make amends. Take action. The person will accept your apology, reject it, get angry, forgive you or do whatever seems best from his or her perspective, but you have done your part, especially if the person says there are no amends to be made.
3. Get More Sleep
Another positive habit is to get enough sleep, and to be realistic about how much sleep you need. Try going to be 30 minutes earlier, and stop watching TV and get off the phone and the computer for 30 minutes before that. The world will manage without you for an hour.
Use that time to read something inspirational, perhaps your long-term targets; write down what you are grateful for or what you have already accomplished towards your targets. Spend a few minutes talking to a significant other or your kids, someone face to face, even your dog. You could even talk to yourself in the mirror: "You are kind. You are smart. You can do it. You are enough." Smile at yourself, and imagine your successful future mentoring you now.
4. Get Up On Time
The other side of getting enough sleep is to put the alarm far enough away from the bed that you have to get up to turn it off. It takes effort to put your feet on the floor, so keep your slippers handy, put down a furry rug, or take some other action to make getting out of the warm nest less unpleasant. You are worth it.
Do not go back to bed. Stretch. Scratch. Listen to some inspirational or motivational material while you are getting ready for the day. It will take at least three weeks to get used to this new habit, so don't let yourself slip into excuses about staying up just a little longer, playing just one more round of Candy Crush, or listening to the news so you can hear the weather report. Be an adult.
5. Breakfast Before Social Media
If you are a coffee drinker, now that coffee is again good for you, set up the coffeemaker to have your coffee waiting when you get up. The smell of coffee is more effective than an irritating buzzer. Wait until after breakfast for the news and the social madness. Limit your exposure to manufactured media, whatever current addiction you have. It won't matter that you listen to the news at 10 am instead of 6. Facebook is not going to send you a spiritual revelation that you will never see again if you don't see it now. Wait until lunchtime for personal email. Give yourself a bit of headspace to allow you to enter the day with a clear, uncluttered mind. You do not need to concern yourself with the events that you can't control or do anything about. You have enough to do that you can do effectively.
That clear mind will let you prioritize your work, or at least decide which fire to put out first. You might even give yourself another 20 minutes to think about what are the three most important things to do today.
6. Be Present in Your Own Life
If you have realized by now that you are mostly hiding from your life, you have discovered the most negative habit of all. Now is all you have. What can you do now to bring you a step closer to the life you want to live?
What task have you been avoiding? Do it. Write down that idea you had on the way to work. Call your mom (wife, child, husband, grandmother) and tell her you love her. Call that unhappy customer/vendor/client to find out what it will take to make things right. Then do it.
If you begin to build yourself up with these simple changes (not easy, but simple), you will find hard changes (running, changing diet, starting some new class) will be much less intimidating because you will have learned how to be good to yourself.
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