Creating Better Habits: How One Small Change Has Given Me More Focus
I feel as if I found a huge secret to making my days count, and I wanted to share it with you. I’d love to hear your thoughts so be sure to comment at the bottom!
First let me start by saying that I’ve been addicted to reading since I got a Kindle paperwhite for Christmas (which I would highly recommend). Everyday on the subway I’ve been reading books to help open my mind and reassess my training and life. Books like Mind Gym, The War of Art and Modern Bushido: Living a Life Of Excellence, have been great reads and have definitely influenced my thinking, but the book I’m currently reading, The Power of Habit, has really made me take a step back to reflect on what my daily habits consisted of. And truthfully, they were kind of shit.
I’m not gonna lie, everyday I would wake up and immediately go on my computer to check Facebook and other social media. My mind would shut off as I scroll through statuses of people I don’t even know. I knew there was no intention or purpose behind what I was doing, but I kept doing it anyway. I could spend the whole morning reading memes, checking tweets and watching funny cat gigs without even thinking about it. My mind was almost completely shut off.
Fortunately on my way to training, I’ve been reading The Power Of Habit, and I realized that this whole morning routine was distracting me from my goals and making me a lazy piece of shit… I had to change it.
One of the main things I’ve learned from this book that has had a major effect on my life so far is the power of “keystone habits” and “easy wins“.
Keystone habits are small changes or habits that you introduce into your routines that unintentionally carry over into other aspects of your life. Finding the keystone habit that changes the way you go about everyday life can help you create even more healthy, productive habits that will ultimately make you happier and give you a sense of purpose.
Easy wins are small tasks you accomplish that can give you a boost in motivation. Having one easy win can lead to another, and to another, and to another until you string together a handful of easy wins and realize that you just accomplished everything you wanted to do for the day.
Needless to say, checking my Facebook first thing every morning wasn’t a keystone habit that would lead to having a productive day, and it definitely wasn’t an easy win because it wasn’t something that makes me a better person or helped me reach my goals. I had to find a keystone habit that would lead to achieving easy wins throughout and help build a productive momentum for the day… and I think I found it.
For the past week or so I’ve started each day with a 10 minute session of meditation, and it’s had a HUGE effect on the productivity of my days. I set a timer for 10 minutes, sit with my legs crossed and focus on my breathing until the timer goes off.
It might seem like a relatively simple task (because it is), but making sure I meditate every morning gives me time to organize my thoughts and prioritize my goals for the day. Not only does it help get my mind focus, but making sure I accomplish this small task first thing in the morning gives me a jump-start for the day knowing that I started the day off doing what I planned to do.
Since meditating gives me that easy win in the beginning of the day, it leads to me wanting to be more productive and make the day count.
After I meditate I have a sense of purpose for the day and want to make it count. I eat a banana, drink a cup of coffee and head to the gym to do my roadwork for the day. Most of the time I absolutely hate running, but recently I’ve learned to love the 2-4 mile stretch by listening to motivational podcasts and music. Not only do I get my blood pumping from the run, but listening to inspirational stuff gets my mind moving in a positive direction too. After the run I take my time to stretch out tight muscles and foam roll any knots or tension in my body… and holy shit do I feel amazing after starting my day like that!
After meditating and a light exercise I feel unstoppable. I get a lot more work done than I would if I were to just bullshit on social media. Not to mention I have a much more clear, focused mind when I avoid distractions like the computer, TV and phone too. This clear mindset that comes from starting the day off with silence helps remind me of the goals I want to achieve in this life. It reminds me to keep working hard and train my ass off that night during Muay Thai. And sure enough, my Muay Thai training has been more consistent, intense and focused than it has before I started meditating to start the day.
The point I’m trying to drive home is this;
If you want to make the most out of your day, make a decision to start the day off right with some kind of productive activity that helps clear your mind. Take a nice long shower, do some yoga, meditate, go for a run or read a book. I guarantee if you start the day away from the noise and distractions that come from your TV, internet and phone, you will get a lot more done that day and feel great about it.
I’m interested to hear your thoughts. How do you start off your morning and how does it affect the rest of your day? What habits do you think you have to ditch in order to be more productive? What habits do you think will help you stay focused on your goals?