We always strive to be better. One of the many things that we can do to be a better version of ourselves is to create and develop a new habit. The dictionary defines habit as an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary. Putting the word ‘involuntary’ as an emphasis means that we do things we naturally and no pressure. If we want to change our self to be better, we need to forge a new and better habits. We need accustom to that new habit by doing it over and over again until we end up doing it subconsciously and that new habit becomes our default state.
I want two things to change. I want to be in physically good shape and read 25 books in a year. In order to get it done, I need to make ‘working out’ and ‘reading’ a habit for myself. I was inspired and motivated by a friend of mine who is so busy and successful yet still has the time for a regiment exercise to maintain his body in a good shape and he still can read a lot of books. Who doesn’t want to be like that?
Want doesn’t get. Do does get.
Instead of just ‘wanting’ to be like my friend, I try ‘doing’ what my friend does.
Define the What.
When I asked my friend how he is able to be so productive, I admitted there was a sense of self-pity going on in my mind. I thought I was so stagnant and stuck. I feel that because I was comparing myself to my friend, not trying to do what my friend did. We often come towards a moment of feeling worthless, stagnant, no progress, and stuck.
Often we feel that because it is the result of comparing our selves, habits, and lives to others. In this modern age, where everything is ‘exposed’ and how easy we see everybody’s personal life and daily activities, those feelings come out often. It’s normal. It’s a part of being a human being. But we need to do something about it. Instead of letting those feeling ruin our day or even worse halting our progress to be better, why don’t we try to turn that into positive energy. So, what I did after I talked to my friend was I look myself in the mirror then I told myself, I want to get in shape and read as many books as I can this year.
What do you want to change about yourself?
Small things count.
The goals that I set was big, too big for someone who is so lazy to work out and doesn’t really like reading. Yet, those two things are what I currently am and I want to change them. Say you’re like me a person who doesn’t like to work out let alone to get up from the bed. But, you want to change that. No, we want to change that. When we want to change ourselves, we always think straight to the result. Yet we realise that we are doing nothing. If the goal is to get in better shape, doing in excessively in the beginning, doesn’t gonna change you.
Set the goals and break it down to the smallest thing you can do.
You have to break down the goal into the smallest thing that you can do. It has to be on a small amount yet you can do it consistently until you can do it by default.
Get it started.
We are busy with our jobs, social hangouts, and other stuff that is going on with life. Try to switch your daily routines to new things you want to change. For example, I am a morning person and I feel I am more productive in the morning. Since I want to spend time reading on the weekend instead of working out I think that the best schedule is in the morning. After I wake up I usually spent 10 -15 minutes on my phone or worse get back to sleep. But instead of doing that, when I wake up I do a set of exercises like sit-ups, push-ups, and burpees for 10 minutes. I also put that ‘small thing’ in my schedule and set a reminder to help me. I admit, it was very hard on the first a couple of weeks. But again, I think that if I want to be healthy the least that I can do is to switch my habit — from scrolling my phone — to committing a work out session, first thing in the morning.
A day is 24 hours long, why can’t we make time?
Now about 4 months since I started, every morning I would felt that something that is missing if I skipped working out. It has become a habit for me.
Get used to doing it.
The way of thinking and way of doing that I made for myself has enabled me to change my habit from tapping my phone to working out every morning. So I applied those ways of thinking and doing on the next thing that I want to change about myself, which is I want to read. No, I want to form a reading habit. On the weekends, I spent free time on media consumptions, either binged Netflix’s Narcos 1st Season (Dude, Escobar is so legit!) or watching on Youtube until I saw a video of a man explaining about different type sh*t (literally). Yes, it was so random. Again I applied the same system — Put it on my schedule and reminder. It works for me.I converted my media consumption time to reading books.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If it broke, fix it.
Again it’s not easy. It’s very, very hard. To be fair, I didn’t spend the whole day reading books, instead, I split the time, which during the day I spent on reading and on the night I get my media consumption. If that’s what I do on the weekends, on the weekdays instead of scrolling too many posts, stories, or tweets I go here to Medium or other reading platforms to read. 4 months later, I’ve read 8 of the 25 books and managed to make ‘reading’ a habit for me.
Getting started is easy, getting used to is the challenge.
Feeling not doing it? Good.
When you have done things to change yourself, it is normal when you feel like not doing it. The thoughts that came would be, I deserve to have a break or I think I have done enough. If you feel that, good. It doesn’t mean that you’re bored. It means that the change you made is working. Our mind and body are used to the things we usually do and when we want to change it, there is always an urge to resist those changes.
If it makes you uncomfortable, good. It is working.
About 2 weeks in since I started working out in the morning, there are a couple of days in a week where I feel of not working out, I feel like I would rather go back to bed. But I resist. I forced myself to do it anyway. I say to myself that this is stupid. But again I thought if I want to change I need to fight myself. Also, there’s a moment on the weekends, I feel like I want to binged Black Mirror the whole day instead of reading Dale Carnegie. Again I forced myself to read by getting out of my room and only carry my wallet and book. I created a situation where there’s nothing else to do instead of reading. Even though it’s really really hard for me to stay focused and read, I did it anyway.
Do until it becomes your habit.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much time you spent on thinking, it matters when you actually do something about what you want to change about yourself. Even if it is just a small change or amount yet we can do it consistently. We also need to remind ourselves that the process of changing ourselves is a marathon, not a sprint. Take it as your reaching on one checkpoint that can lead you to other checkpoints. If the situation doesn’t allow you to do it, you have to make the situation and situation comfortable enough for you to do it. We always heard that if we want to change we have to overcome our self. This quote echoes across generations for a reason. Yes, because it is true.
If you want to change your self, do a small number of things, when and where you are comfortable with, and do them consistently and constantly until they becomes your habit.
So, when are you going to start?