Moving Towards Good
Self-Discipline Through Good Habits
Developing good habits take time but since these are the main foundations for mastering self-discipline, I can assure you doing these is time well spent.
Habits are actions or behavior patterns that you do out of rote, out of repetition. It’s become so ingrained in your daily life and you’ve become so used to it that you start doing it involuntarily. You don’t even need to think about doing your habit before you do it, you just do.
Good v/s Bad Habits
There are two types of habits.
Good habits and bad habits.
If you want to master self-discipline, you have to let go of your bad habits and replace them with new, positive ones.
Bad habits are negative behavior patterns that are a hindrance or a roadblock to your mental and physical health, including any goals you’ve set for yourself. Laziness, unhealthy eating habits, rude behavior, bullying, swearing and procrastination are examples of bad habits that really does nothing for you and does not contribute to your growth.
Of course, saying goodbye to a bad habit is easier said than done and is practically impossible to do overnight. It’s called a habit because you do it involuntarily so it’s going to take a lot of self-conscious effort on your part to stop doing your bad habits.
Some experts say it will take a minimum of 3 weeks to a month for a person to totally forego his bad habits. It will take plenty of mental and physical effort to do this but in the end, you’ll be better off without your bad habits weighing you down.
So how do you replace a bad habit with a good habit?
Good habits come in many different forms. There are simple habits and there are physically demanding habits which might be difficult to master at first.
Assuming you’re also working on breaking your bad habits, it would be best to start with a simple and easy-to-implement habit. After all, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself and get stressed with the thought of doing too much at once. When overwhelmed, some people tend to procrastinate so working on too many habits at once may just backfire on you.
To narrow down some good habits you should pick up on, write down a list of habits you would like to acquire. If you really, really want to pick up an interesting but complicated habit, you can break it down into smaller bite-sized habits. Remember, it’s easier to implement simple habits than highly complicated ones. Once you’ve written your proposed habits, write a score beside each habit and choose the one that came out easiest based on your scoring system.
Work on this habit every day for at least a month. Remember how in Chapter 2 we talked about journals and how you should be writing down everything you do in a day? Well, make sure this habit-forming activity of yours gets written down too. And don’t forget to review your journal every week or so just to see how you’re getting along with your progress.
When your new habit has finally become a real habit, it’s time to work on the next positive habit you should acquire. Just rinse and repeat this process and try to retain as many positive habits as you can – habits that will help you fulfill your tasks at home, at work, or anywhere else.
Here’s why building one good habit at a time is important for self-discipline success:
- You’re taking action. Even just the act of trying to get a new habit will require self-discipline. The more you take action, the more your new habit gets ingrained.
- Your chances of failure are greatly reduced. Your good habits will be so ingrained in your brain that you do it by rote, without conscious thinking. If you committed the right action to memory, failing would be minimized.
- It helps you build confidence and momentum. You’re training yourself to be confident with one good habit. If you succeed, you’ll feel pretty confident and you’d be encouraged to take on another positive habit.
- It requires you to be responsible and accountable. Forming a good new habit will help you to become responsible since you’ve tasked yourself to do it repeatedly.
Here are a few examples of good habits:
- Get up early in the morning (don’t stay in bed until noon).
- Exercise daily (even if you’re busy, find a way to fit it into your schedule).
- Eat a full breakfast (this is the first meal of the day so don’t skip it).
- Drink plenty of water every day (stop drinking too many soft drinks)
The Morning Ritual Habit
Many experts claim the morning ritual habit is one of the most important habits everyone should practice. This is because research has shown that a shocking 90% of successful individuals actually have a morning ritual habit.
CEOs of big companies such as Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and high powered politicians like Margaret Thatcher wake up very early in the morning to do their rituals before heading off to work.
Waking up early in the morning when everything’s quiet is great for meditating, praying or reading inspiring books and quotes. During this special time, turn off your gadgets and focus on renewing your mind.
This is your personal time so feel free to update your journal, write down your thoughts, and plan your entire day. Doing this helps you get your mind and body ready for the day ahead.
You can even identify your two most important tasks for the day and try to get it done first thing in the morning so that by afternoon you’re free to do less important tasks.
Another important activity you can squeeze in during your morning ritual is exercising. It clears your head and running on a treadmill for even just 5-10 minutes will reduce stress and help boost your metabolism.
Lastly, another habit successful people do in their morning rituals is they prepare their food for the whole day, right up to dinner.
Sure you can eat out from time to time but it’s so much better and healthier to prepare your food at home especially if you’re counting calories.
Eating out is like a calorie-fest where you get twice, thrice or even 5 times the normal calories you get from cooking your own food!
For night owls, adapting to this lifestyle and changing habits would probably be tremendously difficult at first. Try adapting slowly.
Sleep 15 minutes earlier each night to wake up 15 minutes earlier as well. Do this cycle until you get used to sleeping in early and waking up early too.
Implementing the morning ritual habit is very highly recommended by time management and behavior experts. Yes, it will be difficult but this is why you work on developing one habit at a time.
Do this process slowly over a period of weeks. In a month or so you should be seeing some progress and you’d then be more productive and you’ll have a clearer path to reaching your goals.
Developing positive habits is very important for your success. Over the coming weeks, we will discuss more healthy habits you can pick up on so scroll down to that chapter for more ideas!