In the last year I came across a vast ensemble of articles, blogs, and publications about habit formation, and how to be successful at it. This blog is a synopsis of these findings. It’s important for me to present this article because as a Mastery and High Performance Coach, I am deeply aware how habits rule every aspect behind the psychology of personal development.
With the start of the new year, millions upon millions of us have increased our hope in the future by setting new goals and resolutions. From weight loss to becoming a better person, resolutions are as varied as the clouds in the sky. Many resolutions and plans have effectively been put into motion. Most of these unfortunately will not be realized.
For those of you who have not set any goals, deciding that you want to change or achieve something this year is the best place to start. So, you’ve got a goal in mind. What can you do to ensure you manifest your goals successfully? Simple really: integrating the right habits into your routine!
The following six step blueprint will help you navigate towards the achievement of your goals.
Forming a habit is not incidental, therefore, forming successful habits is not an accidental process. A mentor, a teacher, a coach, a positive influence in your life will often lead you on this path. Habits are part and parcel of your daily routine and are created by your focused engagement and loyal repetition. Developing a plan of action is the first strategic step of any successful endeavor including new habit formation.
Success is driven by a solid framework of steps you take in order to arrive at your envisioned goal. First, define your goal. Second, what does your goal look like once you achieve it. Lastly, define any roadblocks you imagine along your path of success. Foreseeing this will better prepare you to tackle each challenge as they arrive. When you do this effectively, you will begin to form new psychological strongholds that support the external efforts and habits you are trying to create (very powerful).
As part of the planning stage include a road map, vision board, or battle board to reinforce your inner vision. I call this process Picturization, which at the same time reinforces the external manifestation of your goals. Be patient as you start, and continuously remember what, why, and when you desire to manifest your goal. Planning should be an active part of your daily routine.
2. To Thine Own Self Be True
This is probably the most relevant quote in my life: “To thine own self be true.” I believe that life is an accumulation of experiences, which in turn strengthens one’s intuition. Self-knowledge and understanding of who you are; what you stand for; and why you’ve become your current self, makes personal transformation that much more clear and attainable.
To thine own self be true (not to be confused with selfishness) is about achieving clarity of thought, emotions, and action. Honoring the ‘Self’ is a much more common practice among cultures that value individuals for who they are; not for what they have or have achieved. To successfully create a new habit and flush-out old ones, being true to yourself is a key part of an optimized transformation blueprint.
Asking questions is a fundamental part of this transformative process. Also, including meditation and daily reflexion (mirroring) of ones’s experiences effectively teaches us the unique strengths and weaknesses we’ve developed. Incorporating these activities with your new habit creation plan, can effectively help you picture and achieve the change you intend in your life.
3. Focused Engagement
As I mentioned earlier, new habits are created by focused engagement and loyal repetition of a routine. Your commitment to achieving a goal is crucial because it minimizes the psychological resistance to external change. In addition, this makes the idea of creating a new habit more tolerable, which ultimately integrates it into your world.
Do you believe you can achieve your goals? This is a question I often ask myself. I do this because without the right system in place (which should be designed during the Planning stage), we may fall-off track with our intentions. Staying motivated is an art in itself and it requires lots of your daily mental and emotional energy to stay above the doldrums of hopelessness. I mention this because being focused is a choice you will need to make every day, so turning this choice into a habit is a win-win situation for you every time. Consider making choices one of the strongest habits you can have.
Think of what inspires you, what uplifts you, and more importantly, what makes you feel deeply alive. These elements are all part of the blueprint you’ll create when you commit to success within and without.
Energy management is highly important. For example, planning my day the night before has done wonders for me. Know why? Because it minimizes the resistance one feels the following day to push through and achieve your set goals. The key is not to leave all your decision-making for the time and day you are set to take action. Focused attention and engagement will require formidable amounts of your energy; so clear your path by making as many decisions well in advance.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice
Research supports the notion that integrating a new habit into your daily routine will take an average 21 days.
Q. What is really going on during this 21 day process?
A. You’re reprograming your subconscious thought-process.
Habits form and crystallize in the course of our daily routine. For example, which is the route you take to work every day? How often do you change or deviate from this daily routine? Never? Sometimes? This is how a daily task becomes a habit. Your choices and decisions will strengthen the habits that have been with you, even since childhood. This makes long-engaged limiting habits much more difficult to reprogram and transform.
In order to reset your routine and add a new positive habit you will need to continuously practice, practice, practice. The real difficulties start when we associate habits with self-identity. In other words, when a person associates a habit with who they are, this often leads individuals to become inflexible to change. The key is to recognize habits as a learned behavior, which is easily reinforced by loyal repetition and focused practice.
5. Give Yourself Rewards
Now that you have planned, focused, explored yourself, and practiced your habit creation blueprint…it’s time for your reward. Yes, a reward! You should incorporate into the process a meaningful prize you wish to receive for having accomplished milestones along your path to success.
The symbolic and powerful effect of setting a reward system into your transformative blueprint is an important part to keep you motivated and committed. I have set small, but meaningful rewards for accomplishing milestone in my life and career. Something as unique as a new pair of soccer cleats (I love playing soccer). The act of giving yourself a reward for the strategic accomplishment of your desired habit, will fire you up in ways that truly need to be experienced.
6. Attitude of Gratitude
There is not one element in this blueprint that will propel your efforts faster into manifestation than practicing gratitude. I decided to include this notion because it has had an indelible effect upon my life, work, and relationships. Similar to the concept of ‘Paying it forward’, gratitude is a habit, a loyal practice one devotes to no matter the outcome or challenges in one’s life.
A positive and strong mindset is nurtured by a loving, persistent and grateful heart. Such is the heart of all who dare to start manifesting their dreams. However, at the end, more often than not, gratitude does not remain in the heart of many when faced with failure and rejection. Gratitude is the antidote to hopelessness, fear, and despair, the true enemies of success. Learn quickly what uplifts and nurtures your heart and you will know success.
Get the ball rolling and put this 6 step blueprint to the test. Failure is an opportunity to formulate new plans which is what success is all about: “Trying it once more until you get it right.” So let’s go for it by taking the first step today.
Start a gratitude journal and draft yourself a letter on the first page. Imagine you will read this letter one year from now. What will you promise to yourself? What will you do to keep your word behind this promise? How will you feel when you read this letter a year from now? Just imagine.
Once this page(s) is written in your journal, follow the steps and decide which is the first habit you must incorporate into your routine to push forward and manifest your desired results. Do one new habit at a time until you are mirroring the person you want to be a year from now. Here’s to your success!