Our beliefs form our identity. Habits, decisions, and mental models determine what we become. The tighter we cling to this personal identity, the harder it is to grow beyond it. But if we instead constantly refine our expectations of ourselves, we keep climbing the growth ladder to a higher quality of life.
Continual improvement is a habit, one that compounds over time and changes our identity. This habit layers small changes on top of each other, which may be unnoticeable individually but are extremely impactful over time. Small changes are like grains of sand piling up on the positive side of the scale, slowly tilting things in our favor. If we consistently add sand to the scale every day, the outcome is significant over time.
Here are 7 ways to adopt and create the right habits to tip the scales in our favor.
1. Make mental, physical and spiritual health a daily habit.
There is one thing for certain–without health we have nothing. Often health is taken for granted until it is too late. Most diseases are not contracted by catching them but come from years of bad habits. These habits are a choice. By not prioritizing our consumption, our mindfulness, and our physical fitness, we are closing off so much opportunity down the road. Choosing healthy habits not only impacts the long term, but it’s also an accomplishment in the short term. Eat healthy, take time to reflect, and stay physically active. Everyday, no exceptions.
2. Be authentically you.
We should not constantly change ourselves to make people like us. By pretending to be something that we’re not, we eventually lose our identity as a person. The more we try to act differently, the more we lose ourselves. We must give ourselves permission to be us and know that not everyone needs to like us. The habit of being inauthentic is our reaction to the feeling of not being good enough. By changing that habit and acting authentically, we rewire our brains and disprove that feeling of inadequacy, embracing our beautiful differences and vulnerabilities.
3. Adopt the curious mind of a six year old.
Listen to learn before being understood. We must first block out what we think we know in order to learn what we don’t know. Thinking we have to have all the answers is a bad habit. To ask all the best questions is a good one. Life can be unfair as things are given to us and/or taken away. We can’t control this, and most people have a habit of dwelling on it. However, the one thing that can never be taken from us is our knowledge. To not read and learn daily is a very bad habit. The knowledge gained from reading is a natural motivation. It helps us develop confidence outside of our comfort zone. New knowledge helps us to do life better. Adopt the curious mind of a six year old, and learn like you have something to prove. Ask questions like you have no answers, and embrace the feedback with a beginner’s mind. Each new piece of information adds another grain of sand to the scale daily.
4. Don’t be a victim of your environment, but make embracing challenges a habit.
It’s easy in life to see stress and obstacles as negatives. It’s often said that life is about happiness, and happiness is about smiling and laughter. When I got married to my incredible wife, I recall advice given by dozens of people that marriage isn’t easy, that it’s not a fairytale. They said you have to work at it and embrace the challenges that come with its growth. This advice is the same for life, yet so many see themselves as a victim of the challenges of life. The way we handle these challenges today will literally shape who we become. This makes every challenge an opportunity, one that high achievers seek out while many others fall into a victim mentality. Ask any successful person what got them to where they are, and their answer is always adversity. They don’t just cope with adversity, they embrace it and master it. Seek out the challenges, and make enjoying the ride a habit.
5. Make consistency a habit.
Amateurs practice until they get it right, professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong. While an amateur will do something once and think they have arrived, a professional will not stop until their consistency is flawless. As we add a grain of sand each day to our future, it feels like it has no impact. But the best gift we can give our future selves is to stay consistent to our present habits by adding a grain of sand to our scale each day. With each action that scale tips more and will soon become a mountain.
6. Begin each day full of gratitude.
Happiness is a choice that comes from a heart full of gratitude. By filling our hearts with gratefulness each morning, we open our minds to creativity, opportunity, and dopamine (a natural chemical). The habit of gratitude compounds as others feel the energy too. Life’s purpose is generally influenced by helping others, and this is an easy habit to adopt that makes a huge impact on those around us, which in turn helps us grow as well.
7. Make our first response about opportunity instead of negativity.
It is a habit to respond with negativity. The drama behind negativity is exciting, especially when it makes us feel better about ourselves. It’s also a natural anxiety-driven response to look for danger or negative things when we feel challenged. By adopting the habit of searching for an opportunity to grow, we are constantly looking for more value in life, both for us and others around us. Because most opportunity is found within adversity, this gives us a new lens through which to see value that others are unable to see in challenging situations.
Meaning has no finish line. Improvement has no end. It should not be a goal to live well but instead a lifestyle to live well. Our success is a result of our habits. The right habits take a mindful approach and discipline to adopt.
It’s remarkable what we can build if you don’t stop improving. Small habits don’t add up–they compound to exponential results.
Have a powerful week.