Over the last few weeks, we’ve been focusing on a lot of good stuff. We’ve covered topics like mindset, setting better financial goals and how to conduct a yearly financial review. This week, we’re going to be diving into your habits.
But first, if you haven’t gone through the previous week’s challenge, I highly suggest starting from week 1 (money mindset) and conducting it all the way through. Some of the challenges build on each other, and there is definitely an intentional flow to help you stay on track.
With our final week, we’re going to be taking everything we know to be true and flipping it on it’s head. This is the week to get a bit drastic and go all in on your life.
Because here’s what I know for sure- too many of us are settling for less and playing way too small, because we have conditioned ourselves to do this.
Everyday we are making small choices that compound and turn into our results.
Remember, during week 1 when we discussed money mindset?
Just to recap, your thoughts create your feelings, your feeling create your actions, your actions create your results. That’s why we focused on mindset so thoroughly. If you don’t think like you can do something, you certainly won’t be able to feel like you should even try.
So once you have more positive thoughts you can start to tackle your goals (week 2), and then have the courage to dive into your actual financial results you current are getting and asses whether or not you’re okay with those results.
If you’re not okay with those results you can change them. The way we change results if through our habits.
Habits are not goals
If you have ever confused habits with goals, you’re certainly not alone. I used to set a running goal list that was more of an oncoming to-do list than a strategically thought out action plan for my life.
So here’s how you know the difference between goals and habits.
Goals have a very clear end mark. It’s 100% objective- we know if we achieved our goal or missed the mark.
Habits are different. Habits are those routine things we do that support our dream life, but don’t quite have an end date.
What I’ve learned from the pros is that…
Habits aren’t a finish line to be crossed; it’s a lifestyle to be lived.
Do you see the difference? If you have goals set that say something like, “go to the gym 5x a week, meal prep every Sunday, only spend $100 per month on eating out, etc” those are all habits to aim for, not goals.
I’ve also learned that habits that are immediately satisfying are more likely to be repeated. It’s easier to stick with a habit when you get an immediately reward from it. That’s why it’s so much easier to eat a donut today instead of going to the gym. We feel the reward of the donut immediately. We don’t see the results of the gym from a few months.
It’s our job to learn to associate positive rewards with the not-so-fun routines.
So let’s dive into how we can create positive habits that support who we want to be.
Step 1: Think like the person you want to become
I love asking myself everyday, what does the person I want to become do on a daily basis. What problems do they focus on? How do they respond to stress? How do they set their day up?
The more granular you can become with what a day in the life of the person you aspire to become looks like, they more you can use habits to support you on your way to that new person.
I’m currently reading a book called, “Can’t Hurt Me” by David Goggins. David is a total badass and he mentions an exercise that will be wildly unpopular for a lot of people, but I freakin’ loved it!
David was 100+ pounds overweight and needed to lose some pounds to join the Navy. He was sick of people telling him what he wanted to hear and just give the normal nods of approval that further enforce we are fine the way we are. Maybe you are fine the way you are, maybe you know you can do better. David thought the latter.
He went through a period of time where he realized he cannot be the best version of himself if he consistently lied to himself. He had to get uncomfortably honest with himself.
So he started by looking in the mirror and instead of telling himself, you’re perfect the way you are, he said “you’re overweight and fat. And you need to fix this.”
Sounds a bit harsh, right? But what he found if that when we could stop lying to himself, he could actually get out of his own way and develop a tough skin. He channeled that into changing his life.
Now, I know this sound a bit extreme, but I’ve been trying it myself and frankly LOVE the idea of being incredibly honest with myself. Because at the end of the day, if I’m not happy with my results, then I am the only person who can fix it.
Tread lightly on this one, but if the idea of brutal honesty could help you, then maybe give this a go. Don’t lie to yourself, but tell it like it is.
If you are in debt, don’t look in the mirror and say it’s okay. If you aren’t happy with carrying debt, then it’s not okay. But you have to be the own toughest critic and biggest supporter at the same time.
Don’t misconstrue this to think that it’s shaming yourself or furthering negative self-talk. Like David mentioned, he wasn’t beating himself up saying he is a P.O.S that can’t do anything right and will never lose enough weight to join the Navy. He simply stated the facts- he was overweight and needed to fix it.
As someone who is sick and tired of everything being sugar-coated, I appreciated his candor.
- Write down what the person you want to become thinks about, stresses about, and does on a a daily basis.
- Are there any areas of your life you are lying to yourself in? What can you do to be more honest with yourself WITHOUT telling yourself untrue things?
Which leads us to step 2.
Step 2: Set up your environment for success
It’s crucial that we optimize for starting not for the finish line. Habits are ongoing, which means, they don’t end. You don’t get to a place where you have to stop thinking about your habits. They are ongoing. You will always need to actively work towards them. It does get easier once you make the habits part of your routine, but you are still at danger for falling off the bandwagon and having to start over.
I find this mostly happens because we assume once a habit is created, we don’t have to think about it anymore. It’s engrained, right? Well, not quite. We still need to actively work towards our positive habits every single day.
You know that cheesy quote that says “motivation is like bathing, you have to do it daily”, well it’s true for our habits.
Luckily there are ways to set yourself up for success by focusing on your environment.
Environment comes in 2 parts: people and places.
The people we hang around have a huge influence over our results. Likewise, the our home, car, and offices also influence our productivity, and results.
Two real examples that I personally experienced with this.
I was trying to write in my daily journal every single day.
The journal sat on my coffee table in my living room. Part of my morning routine was going downstairs making some coffee, breakfast, and listening to podcasts. I would sit at the kitchen table and then go upstairs to start my workday. I always kept forgetting to journal. But, then I had an idea of keeping the journal on my kitchen table. I changed my environment. Get this- the coffee table was legitimately maybe 15 feet away from the coffee table, but I never got my ass up to get it. When I moved it to the kitchen table, I wrote on it everyday for 2 years straight. It was in plain sight, with a pen right next to it and all I had to do was reach and grab it. The simple act of changing the physical environment helped me stick to my daily habit of writing in my journal.
I was trying to stop buying coffee everyday.
When I was at my 9-5 job, I would often find myself going for a quick coffee run in the mornings or late afternoons. I’ve talked about this a lot on my podcast, but I was basically looking for a reason to delay starting my workday and fill a boredom gap. I noticed, that I would grab my wallet, and walk straight to the coffee shop to get my fix. So what I would do is purposely leave my debit card at home or hidden in my car. This was enough of an environment change that I stopped buying coffee every day. I would instead drink the office coffee and take a quick walk around the block. I didn’t need coffee, I needed a break from the office. That small change of physical environment stopped me from buying coffee and I was able to put more money into savings for my next vacation.
Maybe your habits aren’t as simple as the two examples I gave. Sometimes it’s removing ourself from spending so much time with people who trigger bad habits. A lot of my coaching clients have to get really clear on what’s important to them, hanging out with their friends and doing $30 happy hours every week, or temporarily saying no and putting that money towards debt instead. People play a HUGE role in your results. If you are surrounded by people who are constantly eating crap and you’re trying to have healthy eating habits… you can sustain for a while, but eventually you will give in.
So be very intentional about who you spend time with when you are in the early days of habit formation. Those people might be hurting you.
- What can you do to set up your environment (physical or people) to help you maintain positive habits? Journal this out.
Step 3: Create your frustration list
Our next step of this week’s challenge is to create a frustration list. This is equal parts fun and annoying. There are so many things in our normal, day-to-day lives that we tolerate and aren’t happy with.
We have a habit of settling for less than we deserve.
That’s where the frustration list comes into play.
Look around your house.
What are the things that you need to fix that you’ve just settled with. Maybe it’s a burnt out lightbulb that you have been meaning to replace for 6 months now. Or a squeaky door that drives you nuts, but you haven’t fixed yet. Or a pile of clutter that you go so used to you barely notice it now.
We ALL have frustrations in our homes that we have gotten accustomed to. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay. We have just settled and accepted it as normal/okay.
When we accept the annoying things around our houses and in our lives, we are settling. When you don’t fix the small stuff that annoys you, we start to develop a habit of settling.
So that’s where the frustration list comes in.
Make a list of every thing that is a little bit annoying to you and you know you need to fix.
My list was lengthy- it included things like my shoes were always in the kitchen, my clothes were always on the bathroom counter, my pantry was always a nightmare, etc.
Then once you have your list written out, take a weekend and start to fix the small things, Then set a goal of fixing one of the bigger things every few months.
This gets you into the habit of taking action and ultimately proves to yourself that you don’t settle- especially with the little things.
- Write down your frustration list. Then block off 1 weekend to tackle as many items as you can on your frustration list. Hire a handyman if needed or bring a friend over to help you with this. But get it done!
- Block off a weekend in your Google Calendar for the larger projects on your frustration list. Be as specific as possible.
Step 4: Don’t rely on willpower
I know, I know, every personal development person on the planet talks about willpower and motivation. They say when we just make it happen and work our way through, we find action. But I actually don’t believe in willpower.
Willpower is incredibly short lived and if you are waiting for motivation to take action, we will NEVER get sustainable results. You might hit the gym for 6 weeks, but when your motivation runs low, you find yourself in the exact same place as you were before- waiting for the next surge of motivation.
When I get a surge of motivation I’m stoked! That allows me to accomplish so much more than is on my to-do list and feels amazing! But I know it’s short lived. So instead, I look for ways that automate my behaviors.
Automation is a huge factor in success.
Instead of having to log on and pay every single bill you have manually, you can simply automate it and never worry about remembering to pay the bill or late fees. The same thing goes for our savings and retirement.
I like to break automation into categories:
- Things I can automate in my financial life
- Things I can automate in my home life
- Things I can automate in my business life
Let’s break this down into some examples of things you can (and probably should) automate in your life.
- Savings (this is the app I personally use to help me save for vacations– I actually saved $1,500 this year for my dream trip to Machu Picchu)
- Retirement contributions (I use Betterment and have $300 per month automatically invested into my Roth IRA and never have to think about it)
- Bill pay (automate all your bills to be paid on time. If you haven’t done this because the due dates don’t line up with your paycheck dates, call each company and ask if they can change your due date to match your paychecks– then have them automatically paid)
- Credit card payoff (I use my credit card for 1 recurring bill per month to help me continually maintain a high credit score. The credit card balance is automatically paid off every month through my checking account)
- Doing the dishes every night before bed (this one is a new habit for new and it’s not fully automated meaning I don’t have to be involved, but it has become as automated as it can be)
- Making your bed every morning
- Online grocery shopping (I really dislike going to the grocery store because I find it to be a time suck and a budget killer- I rarely walk about spending within my budget. We use Instacart for our Costco trips and Wal-Mart’s online shopping for the smaller items not sold at Costco. Instacart delivers directly to our door and we just pull into the parking spot for our Wal-Mart pick up without having to get out of our car)
- Services like mowing the lawn or housecleaning (I haven’t officially paid for housecleaning yet, but I do try to automate my lawn care. I don’t enjoy it and would much rather find a way to decrease my spending in order to pay for that service)
- Blocking social media during business hours (here’s a great article where you can learn about different apps that can block website for you during certain times)
- Putting your phone and computer on Do Not Disturb mode during your productive hours (this makes sure I’m not getting distracted by phone calls, texts, or email notifications)
- Only checking email twice a day (if you can swing this, it’s great! We all know emails are just other people’ agendas and can get your completely sidetracked from your to-do list)
- Writing a list of to-do the night before or the morning of work (this helps you stay on track and know exactly what you need to be doing throughout the day)
- Outsourcing or delegating tasks that you hate or shouldn’t be doing (this is a tough one, but automating tasks is a key part of growing a business or being a leader in your job- we all need to learn to delegate)
- List out ways you can automate your life in the different categories.
- Then go through your list and make it happen! Start with your financial list and expand to your home life and then career/business life.
These steps all build on each other and help you become a highly productive, effective person, who doesn’t settle in their lives. It takes time to do this, but hopefully viewing your habits as an ongoing thing with no end-date helps you identify which ones you actually want to incorporate in your life and find ways to make them sustainable for life.
That officially concludes our Last 30 Days Challenge. I hope you have enjoyed this challenge as much as I have. It’s been a lot of work, but I am so glad I went down this journey and am grateful that you came along with me.
Happy New Year and cheers to making 2019 our best year yet!
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