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How to form positive habits

How you can form positive habits for change

Limiting belief?

Limiting belief?

When someone explains that life is about choices and not just circumstances, it can take a while to understand this point of view.

Many people are been brought up in environments that reinforce limiting beliefs.

The environment then establishes a series of habits that reinforce these beliefs, through habit formation.

Who do you know that is capable of so much more than they are doing today? I guess you look at many of your friends and family and see they have the potential for so much more in life and yet some parts of their behavior holds them back. If this is the case, then I ask you to look also look in the mirror. Are you capable of much more than you are doing right now today?

Warning signals in habits

Do you recall seeing or meeting a high performer that is always sad and unhappy? The answer is No.

You see, a high performer may be critical, have a wide emotional range of mood swings but this is from the passion of their quest. Consistent high performers tend to be mote happy and optimistic than those around them.

Be aware of your range of emotional states

Be aware of your range of emotional states

A powerful to catch your own habits and emotions is hourly reviews.

This does not have to take more than a few seconds to reflect on.

Simply ask yourself

“How do I feel right now?

What can I do to make things better right now?”

Those two basic questions have huge power to help adjust your mindset and behaviors. They act as traffic warning lights on your emotions and actions.

Unhappiness can catch you by surprise. So much of your happiness is determined by your habits (in thought and deed) that you have to monitor them closely to make certain that they don’t drag you down into the abyss.

The means and the ends

If social media has taught us two things over the past 15 years it is this.

Firstly, people love to show the best of themselves and their experiences to everyone else.

Secondly short term satisfaction from seeing “likes” and “shares” soon need to be replaced with new ones.

Many people therefore end up in a cycle thinking they will feel most satisfied when a certain condition is met. This in part is reinforced with rewards systems in society and to some degree a dangerous side effect from constant goal setting.

The reason is that you may like an end destination and are forgetting about the enjoyment of the process, of the actual doing.

FInding fun and fresh air

FInding fun and fresh air

Personal Life Lesson Example: I had not done any road running for many years.

I decided to use running as part of a health improvement program.

My goals went from running 5k to 10k to a half marathon and then tried to improve my time on the half marathon.

Since I suffered an injury, I realized I enjoyed more the fresh air, physical development and joy of seeing improvements in my health as much as the goals.

Indeed, lifestyle, process had become more important than the actual goal.

Life is about experiences

Even for people that are money motivated, deeper questioning finds and confirms what research confirms study after study. Positive experiences generate positive happiness.

So, a new wearable gadget or smartphone will feel less rewarding in 2 years than using the same money on a memorable holiday or event or series of experiences.

Being social and actually socializing

Smiles and engagement is a positive society

Smiles and engagement is a positive society

I find it amusing to see some people surrounded by others at a network event or party and they are scanning their phone and posting updates.

They are being social media social but unsocial socially. A great habit to develop is turning off your phone, leaving them in a pocket with notifications turned off or setting conditions on their use.

For example, you can state you will only check and update your social media whilst in the bathroom area after you have spoken with at least 12 people. Quickly the desire to check your phone is lost and replaced with engaged contact with the people you meet.

This may take some time at first but like all muscles, they need to be trained so start slow and build up.

Be the action taker

The old phrase of “The best way to get out of feeling down is to get back up” certainly holds true. I see this point as being the largest hurdle in many people. The difference is to understand you will probably fall down again, but after, get back up.

Consider how many New Year’s resolutions you have started. By February very might have given up, by September most have given up. However the people who are still in pursuit of their resolution may have experienced times of difficulty, failure and anxiety or lack of will power.

Their motivations to get back up and continue place them as action takers and therefore by default have a higher chance of success.

Keep the glass topped up full

Is the glass half full or half empty?

Is the glass half full or half empty?

One of the positive habits to form is to ensure a strategy and approach is made to develop positive continual steps.

If you are too critical on yourself or others, then you will affect your mood in the wrong way.

Instead of problems, see challenges. Instead of obstacles, seek new opportunities.

It is good to be realistic but ensure you base these views on pure facts and relative progression.

Keep taking action to keep your positive momentum.

Critical observation

Progress and improvement comes from measurement and critical observation. There is great benefit in continual improvement for personal, business and society growth.

A risk is to turn the results from critical observation into complaining. This should be avoided as much as possible.

Always seek a positive solution and clear action based on your observations, otherwise you run a high risk of being “Charlie Complainer”.

The bumpy road

Life is a roller coaster

Life is a roller coaster

Plans and ideas are simply that.

They often need to be fine-tuned adjusted and changed as implementation occurs.

Understanding that methods may change and uncontrolled circumstances are natural is an important lesson in life.

The creation of habits to respond to events in a positive manner will bring positive change. SARAH is a crisis management model that can help systemize steps needed. Retain a vision and a clear desire to pursue positive outcomes.

Responding is reality

When I was in a pure sales role, I used to tell my potential clients to measure me not on our company service success but in how we respond when things go wrong. This may sound counter intuitive yet it was an honest point to put on the table for discussion.

The same applies to your daily behaviors. If challenges occur and issues arise, how do you respond? Do you ignore it? Do you react to every small issue? Or do you respond proportionally to the problem?

Learning everyday

The great habit to develop is to learn every day. At first this can be daunting but it can be embraced in many different areas in life from the words of a new song to coding.

The approach is simple, be very curious with your surroundings and develop a pattern of asking open questions. The answers to your questions lead to natural enquiry and learning as a product outcome.

This habit is great a reinforcing positive growth, experiences, skills and change.

Get to the WHY

Create reasons with reasoning

Create reasons with reasoning

An important point for positive habit forming is to understand the real motivation and reasons why you seek change.

If your motivation is too weak then failure has the highest chance of success. .

Having a long term vision and purpose linked to short term actions are very powerful factors to encourage lifelong sustained performance and positive habits.

Time is a relative measure

Einstein taught us that time bends in space. The same can be said for people’s success with positive habit formation. The basis of some habit formation claims state average time cycles.

A challenge for you is to define where you are in comparison to the average. Even if things take longer for you to form positive habits, this is fine. Just retain the grit and determination until your habits are established. 

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Further Reading and Reference

Youtube video on accountability

How to reduce time spent on tech and social media

Habit formation

  • Written by James Doyle, founder of JAMSO, success consultant and trainer. We have over 100 free articles, tools and resources for your success, including a great newsletter, subscribe now.
James Doyle

James Doyle

JAMSO supports people and business in goal setting success, metrics and key performance indicators, analytics and strategy projects.

Our work is case to case designed to bring you as an individual or a whole business improved results.