Inspired by the motivation-packed book on habits called Atomic Habits, I couldn’t resist coming up with my own suggestions after seeing the changes it brought in my personal experience.
This array of habits is targeted at your mind, body and soul. How many of these do you already do? And what are some more habits that aren’t on the list, you think really make a difference in your life?
#1 – Start your morning on YOUR terms.
Our time is divided between career, family and friends. While talking about self-love, I think the best piece of advice I’ve heard and would like to share on the topic is to start your day on your terms. This simple practice helps you fill your cup up first, as Iyanla Vanzant says, and then you overflow with love for the world.
In other words, you become more capable of taking care of others, when you’ve first taken care of yourself. And unwinding the day with ‘me-time’ just isn’t enough, you need to also wake-up to be with yourself.
This may mean different things for everyone, but the idea is to ENJOY your start to the day by doing what you like. It might be an early morning jog, meditation or an extra 5-minutes enjoying your breakfast. Whatever it is for you, give yourself enough time in the morning to start on the right note, usually possible if we’re not snoozing the alarm.
#2 – Intermittent Internet
We’ve all heard of intermittent fasting from food, but it’s essential that we start detoxing our mind too – from the internet! Why? Because the information overload is leading to many things, not limited to bad sleeping habits, anxiety, inferiority complex, peer pressure. And this needs to stop, for your own sanity’s sake.
A few tricks that work, from which you may want to try some too, are:
- One hour before bed, keep your phone away from you, preferably with the internet turned off. The next time you should use your phone, is in the morning to shut the alarm off. This simple practice will slow your mind down and get your mind prepared for bed-time.
- Use the DND feature on your device at night, to ensure you are not being disturbed by notifications and tempted to check your phone.
- Don’t turn on the internet until AFTER you’ve done your morning rituals of self-love (read point #1).
- Have dedicated periods of use, such as lunch break or while you’re chilling. This prevents mindless fiddling.
- In general, turn off all the notifications that cause distraction and keep your phone out of sight so that you’re not eager to keep checking it every time it lights up and you spot it from the corner of your eye!
#3 – PRACTISING A Self-Care routine
Self-care is like rolling out the red carpet for yourself, as you walk into your own glory.
It’s like having your own cake.
It is perhaps the most gratifying of all, in this list, because when you feel good, you are motivated to keep doing things to make yourself feel even better. This is different from self-love, in the sense that this is more towards what you NEED to do versus what you LOVE to do.
- I believe the first challenge lies in not remembering to do something. Whether this involves brushing your teeth before bed, working out more often, following a skin-care routine or remembering to stay hydrated, make a list of the actions you need to do in but have been neglecting, and stick notes in the respective place – bedroom/bathroom/kitchen so that you remember to do it. You are more likely to do something if you are directly or indirectly given a ‘cue’ for it.
- And second, is not feeling motivated to carry the task through. A simple piece of advice can help you do this, without fail. Make the first two minutes of your habit EASY by having a ritual that preceeds your habit. For example, if you need to workout, just change into your workout clothes. If you need to read, keep the book next to your bed. If you need to stay more hydrated, have more water bottles lying around your space.
#4 – Get Your Beauty Sleep. Twice a day.
Did you know, that a sleep-deprived person driving is more likely to have a fatal accident, versus a drunk driver? This fact, and countless other convincing studies were shared in the best book I’ve read this year – Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker. And ever since I’ve read this book, I’ve been walking around like an old granny, asking everybody if they’re getting enough sleep, whenever they tell me about their hectic lives.
And the crux of the matter is –
- Yes, 8 hours a night is mandatory, and no we have NOT evolved from this necessity yet. Also, NO, sleep is NOT for the weak. The consequences of less than 8 hours a night is not limited to long-term memory loss and heart attacks. Don’t take this idea casually.
- ATLEAST give your body 8 hours to be in bed. Please note – this doesn’t mean you are still able to sleep the required 8, so be generous with yourself here!
- Taking a nap in the day significantly reduces heart problems, improves brain function and makes you feel better.
You can ridicule this all you want, but if you want to change your mind (and your life), I’d say give Matthew’s work a read. You will go back to bed right away, for good reasons.
#5 – Give your Mind Time to wander
Essential so that you can regather your thoughts, think through what has happened over the last couple of hours, and gain some clarity. When your mind is constantly running, it can become ‘saturated’ and clouded. Wandering is the quickest way to hit the refresh button.
Meditation may not be the only way to achieve a clear mind. Here are some other suggestions:
- Take a casual stroll around the block. Alone. Without using your phone. Though listening to music is absolutely fine!
- Write it down. It doesn’t have to be a 3-page mindless rant, though Julia Cameron’s advice from the Artist’s Way is definitely worth exploring (personal recommendation – it works!). Just writing down the person/event’s name, and a few emotions that were triggered can be enough to get your mind off of things, and onto the paper, literally.
- If however, you WANT to meditate but are unable to, I’d recommend exploring some new techniques. As Osho says, and I paraphrase, there’s a method [of meditation] for everyone, most of us are just yet to find it.
#6 – Educate Yourself
Let’s face it, what we learn at school is not enough. It’s about time we start taking our education in our hands, and making our highly-stimulated, highly-potent but underused, minds count. You can pick your weapon of choice.
- Work on a DIY project that floats your boat. Whether its something techie like an IoT device, a science project, or craft-oriented for the home – anything that gets your mind to learn and do something unusual, so that you channel your creative energy in the process is crucial EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Now doing DIY’s everyday isn’t possible, so here are the next set of suggestions, you can do everyday.
- READ. And I don’t mean fiction. I mean read something non-fiction that gives you more direct and real insight about the world. Don’t take me wrong for saying that fiction is for leisure reading, and educating yourself is incomplete until you haven’t started diving into the world of NF’s.
- If your excuse is that you don’t “like” to read, unfortunately, it’s outdated. There are Audio Books for people that learn best by hearing, and TED Talks for the visual learners. There IS a means of learning suitable for you – find it. And use it.
- Also, if your excuse happens to be, “I like books but I don’t have time”, there’s a solution for you. Read blogs! Most of the non-fiction book authors have their blogs – if you hear of a good book, just head to the website and see what smaller doses you can benefit from.
#7 – INVEST IN YOUR PARALLEL UNIVERSE
I am neither for, nor against the notion of making your passion a full-time career. But I am of the belief that your passion and career can co-exist.
Most of us are are doing what helps pay our bills, but seldom are we doing it with the zeal we had when we first had that ‘Corporate Orientation’. Just because our passion may never pay us its worth, we deem it worthless in today’s world. Yet – does it stop being something your soul feels called towards?
The simplest way to overcome this mind-block is to start investing in the things you “wish” you could have been doing, had you been in a “parallel reality”. Why not make it into this reality?
Whether you are passionate about painting, writing, dancing or something else – you have to do it. Even if it’s 5 minutes a day. Start somewhere, do something that ignites the fire within again. Because somewhere, its linked with your purpose of being. How? Check this out.
This is outside the frame of self-love. Because what I’ve come to learn is that our passion is bigger than us, the person experiencing it. The world is in a growing need for people doing the things they love, that’s the only way we’re going to bring the major course-correction we are in dire need of!
Yes, it is not easy forming new habits, and motivation can run out really quick. But the one thing that FINALLY helped me start changing my habits was this guy’s works in Atomic Habits, which I cannot stop talking about. What are you waiting for – go change your life!