4 Life-Changing Habits to Cultivate
Right now motivation levels are high for many people. Resolutions have been made; gym memberships have been renewed; and “new year, new me” affirmations are plastered all over the walls. It’s that time of year when the months ahead hold the promise of targets met and dreams fulfilled.
If you have big dreams for yourself for this year, you cannot depend on feeling “psyched” to keep you moving forward. Sooner or later motivation wanes, and the best way to ensure that your dreams don’t fade with it is by having powerful habits.
Here are 4 life-changing habits to cultivate this year:
Many people live life on auto-pilot. Things “happen to” them and they “fall into” situations. Circumstances dictate the course of their lives, and they feel powerless to make the changes they desire.
Cultivating the habit of intention is about taking responsibility for your life and the direction you would like it to take. And it starts with knowing what you want.
- Make time every day to focus within and ask yourself: What do I really want? And then listen for the tiny whispers or intuitive nudges that come in response.
- Start each day intentionally. Before checking emails, reading newspapers or updating your social media status, set your intention for the day. What do you want to accomplish? By starting your day in this way you will determine the actions you must take which will move you in the right direction. Otherwise you will find yourself simply reacting to whatever shows up.
- Before going into a meeting, starting a new project or undertaking any task, set a clear intention for what you want to achieve. That way you are far more likely to achieve it.
We live in a world where demands are constantly made on our attention. Buy this! Like that! Forward to a friend! Our emails follow us wherever we go, and instant responses have become the norm. We are also internally distracted – by the chattering voice in our heads that’s constantly worrying, questioning and criticising.
Here’s the thing – great work demands focused attention. Attention enables you to dive deep into the substance of a problem or challenge to find the treasures buried within. Without it you are simply skimming the surface and will likely only produce superficial results.
I’ll admit, it’s not easy. Part of the reason we struggle with attention is that we are often focused on the past (“shoulda, coulda, woulda”) or the future (what if?).
You cultivate the habit of attention by learning to be present. After all, right here and now is the only place where you have the capacity to act and influence the world around you.
- Practise being present. A useful method of doing this is by bringing awareness to your breath and tracing its movement through your nostrils, down your throat, into your lungs and back out again. Do this several times each day to bring your attention back to the present moment.
- Reduce distractions so that you have fewer things in your environment vying for your attention.
- Ditch multi-tasking. It doesn’t work.
- Immerse yourself in your work. Devote adequate time to tackling a particular problem, and engage fully with it. This kind of focused attention is what leads to aha-moments and powerful insights. To find these treasures you must do your bit and drill deep.
Wouldn’t it be great if our intentions and our attention guaranteed positive results? In reality, however, nothing is guaranteed. You can’t make people buy or decide a result in your favour. You aren’t in control of everything that happens in your life, no matter how much you would like to be. The habit of surrender helps us to come to terms with this reality.
- Do your best. That’s all you can do.
- Let go of anything that is outside of your sphere of control. You will spare yourself a great deal of frustration.
- Trust. We live in a benevolent Universe where everything works out for our benefit, no matter how it works out.
- A sense of humour helps.
It’s human nature to focus on what’s not working and to want to change, fix and improve things. The habit of gratitude helps to shift our focus towards what is working. Making a habit of being grateful even helps to transform our perspective and the lens through which we view the experiences of our lives.
- Establish a gratitude practice. Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way to remind yourself of what is working in your life.
- Say “thank you” more. Write “thank you” letters.
- Create a gratitude ritual with your loved ones. In our family we have a daily ritual at supper time where we each share the highlight of our day and we say what we appreciate about each other.
- Approach life from the perspective that everything happens for you instead of to you. Be grateful for it all, even the tough times.
Success doesn’t happen by chance; it’s a deliberate choice to do things in a certain way. Cultivating these habits through daily practice will stand you in good stead to achieve what you intend to this year.