If we don’t learn good habits, life becomes more difficult. We have a choice: Get hard on ourselves so life becomes easier, or get easy on ourselves resulting in life getting harder.
Successful people choose good habits over a stagnant life. At first it might not seem like you are accomplishing much, but don’t be fooled. “Small hinges open big doors.”
Not all good habits are created equal. Some are more powerful than others. Here are four powerful habits that will strengthen your confidence, help you get what you want and result in a satisfying journey.
1. Embrace life, don’t resist it.
When things aren’t working, our first action is often resistance. Instead of resisting, take a moment to consider what isn’t working and why. This kind of information is valuable.
Tough times can be used to disrupt stagnant patterns in thinking. If we embrace the disruption, it can have a purifying effect that knocks off the rust and barnacles we naturally collect on our daily voyage. Embracing life is resisting stagnation.
Life might wreck your plans when your plans are about to wreck you. So pay close attention.
2. Affirm yourself, don’t degrade yourself.
One of the most common ways to degrade ourselves is to ask the wrong questions. Wrong questions are disempowering. They immediately change our subconscious thought patterns from positive to negative, or vice versa. They are powerful.
- Question: Why can’t I lose weight? Answer: Because you’re a pig!
- Question: Why can’t I do things right? Answer: Because you’re not smart!
- Question: Why am I so broke? Answer: Because you’re a loser!
Ask a bad question and you’ll get a bad answer. This is how our subconscious mind works. Because the conscious mind programs the subconscious, take charge. Good questions lead to productive answers.
- What are the top two things I can do to lose weight?
- What is a better way to do this?
- What are three things I can do to increase my cash flow?
Asking the right question is empowering.
3. Brainstorm, don’t blame-storm.
Blame-storming is using our creative abilities to come up with reasons why something is not our fault. This creates an emotional roadblock to healthy living called resentment. It comes from the Latin words “re” and “sentire,” which means “to feel over and over again.” It’s almost exclusively internalized, which makes it different from anger even though it can accompany the emotion.
It’s tempting to wallow in resentment because it provides a feeling of control. But that is an illusion. The past is no more. There is no control. How can we disempower the past from stealing the present? Through brainstorming, you come to the realization that your past deepens you but does not define you, deter you or defeat you.
It is a part of your maturity but not your identity. Your past has made you stronger for today. You are not a prisoner of your past. You are a pioneer of your future. And you have power in the present.
4. Do something, not everything.
It’s good to be resilient—to a point. Sometimes quitting is the smartest thing to do. There are times when I look at my to-do list and complete one or two of the items quickly, just by eliminating them. For example, if I have 10 things on my list, Pareto’s Principle reminds me that 80 percent of my results comes from 20 percent of my effort. Let me get those top two done first and I’ll go from there. To not do this is to spread myself too thin. Time to prune the list.
The secret of concentration is elimination. This leads to productive living and has health benefits as well—a needed message for a society of high achievers.
In Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain, people who quit unattainable goals saw physical and psychological benefits, including:
- Less depressive symptoms and negative affect
- Lower cortisol levels
- Lower systemic inflammation
- Better immune functioning
- Fewer physical health problems over time
This is not a polemic for a carefree life! The happiest people are busy but in control. They are not rushed.
“Be quick, but not in a hurry.” —Coach John Wooden
It’s a matter of control. You can do anything when you quit trying to do everything.
This post originally appeared on LeadershipTraQ.com
Mick Ukleja, Ph.D., is the founder and president of LeadershipTraQ. He empowers leaders to optimize their talent and equips them to excel in their professional and personal life. Mick is an author, speaker and generational strategist. He writes and speaks on engaging millennials at work. He is the co-author of Managing the Millennials: Discover the Core Competencies for Managing Today’s Workforce, 2nd Edition, which is used in corporate training and business schools. He co-founded the Ukleja Center for Ethical Leadership at California State University, Long Beach, which promotes ethics across the curriculum. Mick is an adjunct professor in the MBA program at Concordia University. His book Who Are You? What Do You Want? has been praised by legendary coach John Wooden: “I have always taught that success can be achieved by each one of us. These principles provide an excellent life-planning guide for bringing out your best.” Mick has been featured on Fox News, CNN, Fox Business Network, NBC and in numerous publications. Keep up with Mick at Leadershiptraq.com.