Updated: Aug 25, 2020
My mind is like a browser with 100 tabs open all the time. I have this feeling of not knowing what I’ve accomplished and not being able to unlock the fullest benefits of the things I do because I came to a realization that I’m not doing it as consistently as I would like. The secret of success is found in your daily habits. You can never upgrade your lifestyle until you change what you do daily. I stumbled upon this quote as I was researching effective habits for a change in lifestyle. This quote is from one of the greatest minds, Dr. Abdul Kalam, Former President of India “You cannot change your future, you can change your habits and surely your habits will change your future”
If you find yourself struggling with an inner need for developing personal effectiveness, you need to give yourself enough time and allow yourself to undergo paradigm shifts and change yourself fundamentally. There are no "shortcuts" to achieve the desired result because they don't address the underlying condition. You will reap the benefits of developing effective habits in the long term. Creating habits makes reaching your goals easier and they last for the long haul. Think about the cumulative effect it can have on your future. James Clear, the author of the book Atomic Habits said “Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. The same way that money multiplies through compound interest, the effects of your habits multiply as you repeat them. They seem to make little difference on any given day and yet the impact they deliver over the months and years can be enormous. It is only when looking back two, five, or perhaps ten years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent”
He further explains that the outcome of our future is the lagging measure of our habits. Your net worth is a lagging measure of your financial habits. Your weight is a lagging measure of your eating and exercising habits. Your knowledge is a lagging measure of your learning and reading habits. Your clutter is a lagging measure of your cleaning habits. You get what you repeat.
I’m going to share 10 healthy and effective habits that I’m working towards to train my mind and body.
Meditation: 10 minutes of meditation every morning goes a long way. I’ve done meditation every day for the past 4 months and I feel I've found more peace within myself. I also feel a lot more energetic and I can focus on my work for longer hours.
Self-reflection and mindful living: I do a self-reflection exercise at the end of every month on how I feel emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Writing this down in my journal has been a great exercise to help me reflect on my feelings, thoughts, and experiences.
Daily Journaling: This habit has been very fulfilling. I write one line every day before I go to bed on what I've accomplished that day or what am I proud of or grateful for, or what do I need to get better at.
Healthy eating habits: Consulting a Nutritionist has made me more disciplined when it comes to having a healthy lifestyle. I started following diet plans and worked closely with my Nutritionist to create long term sustainable and healthy eating habits. I’ve made it a habit to eat nuts and fruits every day for my evening snack and a glass of smoothie with chia and flax seeds. I eat a bowl of veggies and spinach every day for lunch. Preparing my favorite bowl of fruits and veggies and eating it at the same time every day has helped me cultivate this habit.
Hydrate: What water can do to your body is magical. Drinking 2-3 liters of water every day consciously has done wonders in my body that has prevented me from gaining weight. One trick that I've found helpful is keeping a bottle of water on my desk which has forced me to remember to drink water often. I also drink a glass of warm water with lemon and honey every day morning and it's been very refreshing to start my day with this warm drink. This drink helps in detoxification, improves digestion, and boosts the immune system.
Routine sleep hours: This habit is something that I struggled with in the beginning because I’m not a morning person. It is initially very difficult to change your sleep hours but having a good reason to wake up the next day early has helped me cultivating this habit of waking up early. I intentionally schedule meetings at 8 AM so I have a good reason to get up early. Some days I think of a nice morning workout routine I want to do and I wake up excited to get my workout done.
Stretching and Yoga: I feel so much better when I start my day with 15 mins of yoga and stretching. I end the workout with a cup of hot tea. It’s so refreshing and puts you in a good mood to kick start your day.
Empathy: When I think of empathy, I find myself reflecting on the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Letter from a Birmingham Jail. In his letter, he encouraged fellow clergymen to see the common humanity in all people and to recognize the interconnectedness between communities and the mutuality of our circumstances. It is the conscious effort to create a space for others. When we offer empathy to others, it can be a powerful catalyst for healing or change. Roman Krznaric is a public philosopher and author who wrote about 6 effective habits of highly empathetic people. 1) Cultivate curiosity about others. 2) Challenge prejudices and discover commonalities 3) Try another person's life. 4) Listen hard and open up. 5) Develop mass action and social change. 6) Develop an ambitious imagination. This means empathizing with adversaries, someone whose beliefs we don’t share, or who may be “enemies” in some way.
Communicate with nature: Being more observant of the nature around me has helped me recognize the beauty it has to offer. Whenever I go on hikes or strolls, I try to be more observant of the beautiful flowers, the trees, the sky, the birds, and the butterflies and it gives me this immense joy that is unexplainable.
Immerse yourself in music and books and seek knowledge: I love reading books and listening to music without multitasking. It lets me be attentive and engage deeply which triggers some deep thoughts, most often than not.
After compiling this list of habits, I started thinking about how I can make myself follow these habits regularly because that’s the most difficult part. There are 4 golden laws that James Clear has devised in his book Atomic Habits, which I found very useful.
The 1st Law: Make It Obvious
This means becoming aware of your current habits; designing your environment to make good habits obvious and visible.
"You can alter the spaces where you live and work to increase your exposure to positive cues and reduce your exposure to negative ones. Environment design allows you to take back control and become the architect of your life. The people with the best self-control are typically the ones who need to use it the least. It’s easier to practice self-restraint when you don’t have to use it very often. So, yes, perseverance, grit, and willpower are essential to success, but the way to improve these qualities is not by wishing you were a more disciplined person, but by creating a more disciplined environment.I find that the same is the case for things like sweets or unhealthy snacks. Having things out of sight is often the best way to break a bad habit. Likewise, making something very visible and attractive can help." For example, I’ve been wanting to read more every night. I found that the ideal place to keep my book is on my nightstand.
The 2nd Law: Make It Attractive
"Bundling habits so that you’re rewarded with a temptation whenever you do a good habit". On days when I feel lazy to start a new online course, I will push myself to do at least one chapter and reward myself after by watching a nice tv show.
The 3rd Law: Make It Easy
"Downscaling habits so they can be done in two minutes or less, increasing the likelihood they’ll be done again. Even when you know you should start small, it’s easy to start too big. When you dream about making a change, excitement inevitably takes over and you end up trying to do too much too soon".
The two-minute rule proposed by James Clear is very simple and easy to follow - ‘When you start a new habit, it should take less than two minutes to do.’I found this approach of breaking down habits into a two-minute activity very useful. I found myself having difficulty adhering to lengthier 30-minute exercises in the mornings, so I just promised myself to do Yoga for 5 mins every day. it’s short enough that I can easily commit to it on a daily basis without any excuses.
The 4th Law: Make It Satisfying
"Create a habit tracker that you won’t want to break"
I downloaded the Habit bull app to keep track of all the good habits I’m working on. It motivates me to be consistent and makes me feel good about myself that I almost don’t want to break the cycle. There is also a Clear bullet journal tracker recommended by James Clear that I've laid out in my journal to keep track of my daily habits.