If you cultivate a few good habits based on a solid foundations, no one can stop you from having the best year of your life.
If you want 2023 to be your best year so far, you need to create solid foundations.
Every good life is based on a set of solid foundational habits that can propel you toward success.
That’s why I plan on setting up systems at the beginning of the year that will help me develop better habits throughout the year.
Aristotle once said:
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
With that in mind, let me walk you through five practical ways I plan on developing better habits in 2023.
My biggest takeaway from James Clear’s book Atomic Habits was the concept of “habit stacking”.
I have developed great habits in the past 2 years using this approach, and I plan on doing the same in 2023.
The idea is very simple. I will let you hear it from James Clear directly:
Rather than pairing your new habit with a particular time and location, you pair it with a current habit.
I will walk you through the first habit that I am trying to develop in 2023.
I want to start drinking my morning smoothie more regularly. Right now, I come back from the gym, and then depending on how the rest of my day looks, I either make the smoothie or don’t.
Instead, I will tie the “smoothie-making” action with my morning reading. I know that no matter what, I read for 30 minutes every morning. I will make a smoothie a requirement of my morning reading. That means, I only read once I make the smoothie. Then, I drink the smoothie and read my book.
Now, I am incorporating a new habit (drinking a smoothie) I want to develop, into an existing habit (morning reading). I am more likely to develop the new habit successfully in this way.
Taking another page from James Clear’s Atomic Habits, temptation bundling is a great way to develop habits that you don’t enjoy doing, but you know are really good for you.
Once again, I will walk you through a real-life example that I plan on adopting early this year.
In the first half of 2022, I was really enjoying my morning walks outside. It was great cardio and really pumped me up for the day ahead. However, since moving to Toronto this Summer, I haven’t been very consistent.
My cardio levels have visibly deteriorated, and I have lost motivation. The cold Toronto winter has not been much of a help either. I still drag myself to the gym, but I just end up doing weights, not cardio. Even when I do cardio, I don’t enjoy it too much.
On the other hand, I love listening to podcasts! One of my favorite morning activities is listening to a podcast when driving to the gym. I will “bundle” that activity now, with cardio before doing weights.
I will be doing cardio (something I don’t like) with listening to podcasts (something I like). This is temptation bundling in action for you.
Of course, the first person we hold accountable when it comes to executing good habits is ourselves. For obvious reasons though, that doesn’t work all the time.
That’s when you can outsource your accountability.
I plan on committing to my 2023 goals publicly so that y’all can hold me accountable. I also plan on sharing my progress towards each of the goals to be very transparent.
Outside Medium, I plan on asking my loved ones to keep me honest and make sure I live up to my commitments.
If you don’t want to do either of these, you can take a much more drastic measure. You can literally put money on the line using apps like Beeminder.
If you don’t accomplish your goals, the app will charge your credit card. It’s a little extreme, but depending on your situation, you can consider using it.
Find a new habit-tracking app
Now, let’s look at a less extreme one.
If you are familiar with my philosophy and writing, you know I like using a habit-tracking app almost religiously.
Over the years, I have tried many out, and the one that stuck with me has been Streaks. The problem with this app, however, is the emphasis on streaks, over just habit tracking.
If you plan on doing something every single day, hands down this are the best app. A lot of the new habits I plan on developing are more periodic. Maybe, I want to call my parents every Friday. Or, declutter twice a week. For activities like this, Streaks does not have the best UI and analytics.
That’s why I plan on finding a habit-tracking app that works for me. Not one that is the best in the market. Most likely I have already used all of them. I want to dig deeper and find one that suits my workflow better.
Break habits down into bite-sized chunks
In the past, I have made mistakes of making my habits “too large” and “difficult to measure”.
One example — last year one of my habits in the habit tracking app was “Eat Healthy”. At the end of every day, I used to check it off based on what I ate during the day.
If you really think about it though, what does “Eat Healthy” really mean? Eating vegetables? Eating at home? Eating out, but healthy? It was a vague habit.
Vague habits are always difficult to track and make progress on.
Instead, this year, if I have any habits that are large, I am breaking them down into bite-sized measurable chunks.
So, instead of having an “Eat Healthy” habit, I am breaking it down into:
• Home Cooked Meal
• Eat Vegetable
• Take Vitamins / Minerals
Now, each of the habits has one goal only and it’s really simple to decide whether I can check each of them off or not.
I hope you found this a valuable read and have some takeaways that you can go ahead and implement in your wonderful lives.
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