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Day 14: Developing the right habits and rituals

"Chains of habit are too light to be felt, until they are too heavy to be broken" Warren Buffet


I have never read the book "The 5 Am Club", but I have been following Robin Sharma's blog since reading his book - The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari - years ago. The 5am Club is a concept that I read on his blog and have adopted over the years, even though not consistently. The concept is about waking up at 5am and following a ritual of 20 minutes exercise, 20 minutes planning your day and 20 minutes of meditation and study. The idea behind this concept is that developing habits that help us to be on top of our day, instead of starting our day late and spending our energy being reactive to what the day brings to us instead of planning ahead of time how we would be spending our day. Adopting the 5am Club concept is one example of developing habits and rituals that set us up for success and positioning us to better reach our goals.


The 5am club and other similar concepts are usually developed out of the study of successful people and the types of habits they develop, and rituals they practise that seem to differentiate them from being average people to extraordinary people. And while these habits and rituals may differ, it is evident that we do need to develop some sort of systems and processes in order to better achieve our goals. Therefore, the intention is that today we may interrogate our current habits and rituals, and whether they can indeed support the various goals that we have in different aspects of our lives.


One of the habits that is really detrimental to our progress is the amount of time we spend on social media just browsing and not doing anything productive, or even just looking at our phones - going through pictures or chatting on Whatsapp. One of the things I do to manage my relationship with social media is disabling all notifications on my social media apps so that I only go online when I intend to, and not because there is a notification or prompt for me to go on social media. I believe that if a lot of us can really do an audit of how we spend our time on a daily basis, we will realise that we actually have so much time that we could channel to the things that will lead us to fulfilling our dreams - and that we really owe our dreams the courtesy of our time.


As someone who wishes to be a published writer one day, one of the habits I need to make part of my life is reading books. As a writer, you're vocabulary, writing style, and general knowledge can only be developed through reading books. Likewise, if you want to be a successful podcaster, you have to spend time listening to brilliant podcasts, studying them and identifying a niche for yourself. Doing this increases your odds of being successful. Will Smith shares in his book Will, that when he decided that he wanted to be the best actor of all time, his friend and manager - JL, went on a quest to study the top 10 movies of all time and to identify the things they had in common. This was to help Will Smith develop a criteria for the type of movies he had to make to meet his goal. The three elements were the use of special effects, creatures and a love story. This became the criteria which Smith used to accept or reject movie offers and in the book he claims that it worked. Chances are if Smith didn't devote time to study movies, he wouldn't have been able to achieve his audacious ambition. So the question is, are you spending time on the right things? Are you willing to develop habits and rituals that can support the vision and goals you want to develop? Simply doing the same things you have been doing as before and expecting to achieve different results isn't going to cut it.







The 21/90 rule


I have attempted to use this 21-Day Goal Setting challenge to help all us develop the habit of spending time daily - whether 30 minutes or an hour - working on ourselves and on setting intentions for our lives. The 21 Days was very intentional, and is based on the research that it takes 21 days to settle into a habit and then a bit more time - two months - to develop it into a sustainable habit (a total of 90 days based on the 21/90 rule). This means that we have to give ourselves time to grow into people with the right habits and rituals.


Habit Stacking


One of the most effective ways of building habits is to pair a new habit with a current habit. This is called habit stacking. This is effective because we can take advantage of what we are already practising as habits and use them as triggers to help us remember to practise a new habit. An example would be "Before I get out of bed (current habit), I will meditate of five things that I am grateful for (a new gratitude habit you want to develop)." This will mean that whenever you're about to get out of bed, you will remember that you have promised yourself to do meditate of what you are grateful for, and once you do this over and over, you will eventually master your new habit.


Develop the right mindset to adopt new habits and rituals


One of my favorite habits is waking up at 5am to spend an hour in prayer. When I am practising this habit consistently, I feel balanced, filled with wisdom, confident about my day and I am less reactive when things happen during the day but handle them calmly. I also feel like I have the right responses to conflict, discomfort or to any emotional triggers. When I am not spending time in morning prayer I am more stressed out and agitated during the day. There are many writings and sermons preached about why it is advised that we wake up early in the morning to meditate and pray - even Cindy Trimm wrote a book called Commanding Your Morning, which is based on the idea that you have to wake up early in the morning to set the direction of your day. Other people spend time in silent meditation.


However, one of the barriers in adopting good habits and rituals is when our mindset tells us that "these things simply won't work for us", or "adopting the right habits only work for certain people", etc. If our mindset is not right, then we won't know what changes to make in our habits and rituals that can set us up for success. My intention today is actually not to prescribe what each person should do, but to encourage us to do the work of determining what it is we have to do to set ourselves up for success.


I personally make it a point to read books, listen to podcasts and follow blogs in areas where I think I need to develop the right habits, so that I can adopt the right mindset for those habits. Books such as, Deep Work: Rules of Focused Success in a Distracted World, Cal Newport shares even more insights on how knowledge workers can approach work and productivity in order to set themselves apart from their peers and to be successful. When working on growing as a runner, I read Eat and Run by ultra-marathon runner Scott Jurek, which painted a picture of how he practised, ate and challenged himself to be the best in his field. Books such as these helped me understand the way of living of people who had achieved the goals that I hoped to achieve, and inspired me to make lifestyle changes and to develop the right habits and rituals to help me become the person that I want to be.


In conclusion, you can either choose to spend time scrolling the internet, watching useless TV shows, eating anything you want on any given day, or you can choose the much harder path of being intentional with your time, your attention and focus and your energy and direct them all to activities that enable your ambitions. Whatever you choose, your life will bear the fruit of your choices. Choose well.

"Even so, a good tree brings forth good fruit" Matthew 7:17
 

Journal Reflections

  1. Take stock of your daily habits and rituals and reflect on those that are positive (serve your vision and your goal), and those that are negative (do not serve your vision and your goal), track the amount of time in a day that you spend on each habit.

  2. Reflect and write down strategies of how you are going to replace the negative habits with the positive habits?

  3. What material can you read or listen to that can help you develop the right mindset to support the formation of new habits and rituals in your life?

  4. Use this Habit Tracker to write down the habits you are looking to develop, and to track them over 21 days and 90 days.

  5. Who will support you on your journey? Write a list of people you will reach out to hold you accountable.

 

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Hi, thanks for stopping by!

I am a passionate leader, accomplished professional and a mentor. I believe that nation-building depends on how well we build people. Therefore, my mission is to contribute to the personal, professional and leadership development of people to empower them to reach their highest potential.

I do this through a mentorship program that I founded and through this blog where I share principles I've applied and insights I've gained in the past twelve years of my career and leadership journey.

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