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4 Habits You Need to Know That Will Change Your Life Forever

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4 Habits You Need to Know That Will Change Your Life Forever

Ever heard of the phrase “live a life of intention?”  One of the most important times of my life was a few years ago when I realized the success I desired, personally and professionally, would only come once I instituted the habits necessary to reach my goals.

Up until that time I had motivation, but lacked the long-term focus to achieve my goals.  Once I understood keystone habits, I was able to pinpoint the exact skill set needed to reach my goals which allowed me to direct my life in the direction of goal achievement.  According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, understanding keystone habits is essential to making changes that last.  Here is what Duhigg has to say concerning keystone habits:

Keystone habits say that success doesn’t depend on getting every single thing right, but instead relies on identifying a few priorities and fashioning them into powerful levers. This book’s (The Power of Habit) first section explained how habits work, how they can be created and changed.  However, where should a would-be habit master start? Understanding keystone habits holds the answer to that question: The habits that matter most are the ones that, when they start to shift, dislodge and remake other patterns.

I call these habits the Pillars of Successful Living and from my experience here are the 4 habits you need to know that will change your life forever:

Live a Healthy Lifestyle

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    I do not know of a habit change that will have more of a positive impact on your life than exercise and healthy eating!  Two years ago my waistline had expanded greatly and I realized I had to get my eating under control.  I made the decision to begin eating healthier meals and walking 2-3 times each day for exercise.  I cleared out my cupboards, began logging everything I ate and closely watched my calories.

    Once I had made the decision to live a healthy lifestyle many other parts of my life began to change.  My mind was more focused.  My confidence grew.  I began to dress and carry myself better.  And most importantly, my body began to feel better. During this transition I learned that I was capable of more which catapulted me toward greater heights.  There is mental power in seeing your pants fitting differently. The confidence one gains from losing weight exceeds any other that I have experienced!

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    Live a Goal-Oriented Life

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      I don’t know any successful people that live their life void of goals.  I do, however, know tons of people that are floundering that have no goals or no life purpose.  Dave Ramsey produced a list several years ago highlighting the key differences between successful and unsuccessful people.  At the top of that list was having written goals and focusing on one single life goal; 67% of the wealthy have written goals and 80% focus on one single goal.  What I learned from this list was invaluable.  I had never been a fan of written goals and I had also always felt like an underachiever.

      I determined that I would choose one life goal, write down my goals and then work diligently until I reached my goal of becoming a full-time writer. I developed the habit of using a 4-item daily To Do list which supported my long-term goals.  Once I wrote down my 6 month and long-term goals, I posted them on my refrigerator so that I would be forced to face them every day. It was a constant reminder to remain focused.  Having a singular life focus and written goals to gauge my success have been one of the most important habit changes of my entire life!

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      Live Debt-Free

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        I do not know of a bigger dream killer than debt.  I was on a camping trip several years ago and a friend of mine was complaining about his job and life in general.  Basically, he felt trapped in a job he hated and believed his dreams were only dreams and not intended for “grown ups.”  It was sad to hear him express how defeated he had become.  I asked him why he didn’t quit his job and find something that contributed to his happiness instead of demoralizing his spirit.  That conversation revealed that he had managed his money irresponsibly, accruing nearly $25,000 in credit card debt, a mortgage he and his wife could barely afford, multiple car payments, a boat payment and many other bills that stretched their bank account to the max.

        The problem wasn’t that he couldn’t find a job that made him happier, the truth was he couldn’t take a job making less money due to his irresponsible spending.  And of the thousands of people that I speak with each year, this topic comes up the most.  What many don’t realize is that paying off debt can be easier than we think, but it will take great sacrifice in lifestyle; sacrifices that most are unwilling to make. But, think of the things you pay for that eat up your money: pay television, coffee shops, multiple car payments, eating out, huge mortgage payments, etc.  If you want to live your dreams then maybe it is time to sacrifice for a few years, pay off the credit card debt and free yourself up to experience work that also brings you joy.

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        Live a Life of Charity

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          When I speak to groups about this topic the most common response relates to donating money, but when I refer to living a life of charity I mean giving of one’s time.  There is no greater perspective changer than to volunteer one’s time working at a local food bank, men’s or women’s shelter, nursing home or orphanage.  In our world, people are becoming more and more suspicious of strangers, fearing that criminals await around every corner.  This is resulting in a society that is becoming more and more selfish and self-focused.  If you want to begin opening up your world and change your life forever, apply to work at a local charity.  It is my belief that until you put the self-focused You in its place and begin focusing part of your life on adding value to the world around you, you will not experience any type of true joy, happiness or fulfillment.

          Living the life you dream of does not happen by chance.  You must determine what it is that you want, develop a plan and then live a life of intention.  It took me many years to understand this concept, but once I bought in to this fact my life began to turn around.

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          I believe it is time for you to stop allowing life to happen to you and begin to design your life in order to aim you in the direction of more personal and professional success. Once you adopt this mindset and focus on these keystone habits you will notice your life slowly begin to change.  And before you know it you will find yourself dreaming while wide awake.

          Featured photo credit: Yoga/TakeBackYourHealthConference via flickr.com

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          Last Updated on September 8, 2021

          10 Fitness Excuses You Need to Stop Making Now

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          10 Fitness Excuses You Need to Stop Making Now

          “You can have results or excuses. Not both.” – Anonymous

          Human beings tend to only ever do as much as they absolutely need to.

          Motivational speakers call this innate trait laziness, biologists call it efficiency. Either way, the fact remains: we are evolutionary wired to minimize time and energy wherever possible.

          And this is not necessarily a bad thing. If we weren’t wired this way, we probably wouldn’t have survived this long as a species.

          Back in our caveman days, before supermarkets, calories were worth their weight in gold. For cavemen, trying to actively burn off calories would have spelled certain death.

          In this light, our fitness excuses make total sense. Our reptilian brain comes up with believable sounding rationalizations to stop us from burning off our precious calories; to minimize time and energy.

          Unfortunately, due to our present access to highly calorific foods, the fitness excuses that once ensured our survival, now send us to an early grave.

          Below I’ve provided the 10 most common fitness excuses our reptilian minds trick us into believing and why, ultimately, they’re all nonsense.

          1. I don’t have enough time.

          This is probably the most common fitness excuse of them all.

          First off, when you say you don’t have enough time, what you’re really saying is “I don’t have enough time for that”. 

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          Do you really think that if you were to add up all the time you spend watching TV and surfing the web throughout the average week you couldn’t replace any of it with a workout?

          A 30 minute workout takes up 2% of your day.

          Don’t ask yourself how much time you’re going to waste by working out a few times a week. Ask yourself how much of your life you’re going to waste being unfit and overweight.

          2. I’m way too tired to workout.

          Your mind, when it comes to exercising, is like a spoiled child. If you give in to its demands without a fight, it will see weakness and prey on it often.

          If you miss one planned session, you’re much more likely to miss the next. The biggest journey always starts with one step and the biggest failings always start with one step backwards.

          You need to show your mind who’s boss. You won’t always have lots of energy when you go to the gym but that doesn’t matter. The only thing that counts is showing up and giving it a shot.

          If you’re too tired to workout, change your sleeping habits, not your workout habits.

          3. But exercise is so boring!

          You don’t want to exercise because it’s boring?

          So you find brushing your teeth, taking showers, styling your hair and getting dressed highly entertaining? No. We do these things because we have to. We accept them as part of life.

          The people who never miss a workout are the ones who view it just like brushing their teeth. Complaining about it is just pointless. To be successful sometimes you’ve got to do things that aren’t as fun as watching your favorite TV show. That’s just life.

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          If don’t enjoy your workouts, you don’t stop working out, you just workout differently. Try crossfit, martial arts, hiking, body building, powerlifting, running, or swimming. Try music. Try anything, but keep showing up.

          4. I have no motivation to workout.

          If you think you need motivation to train you’re already half beat.

          What you really need is meta motivation: the motivation to train even when you’re not motivated. If you rely on your feelings to decide whether to workout or not, you never will. As you know, your feelings are designed to keep you caged up in your comfort pit.  Your feelings want you to be safe, not successful.

          That said, there is a trick you can use to get yourself motivated to workout, and it’s  backed up with research. It’s called ‘the few minutes’ principle.

          The basic idea is that procrastinators often put off doing certain things because the size of the task in front of them seems too overwhelming. By deciding to just go to the gym for a ‘few minutes’ you’ll often see the workout through to completion.

          Are you motivated enough to train for two minutes? That’s all you need.

          5. I have kids to look after.

          One day your kids might have someone to look after too: you.

          Don’t burden them with an ill parent when they have their own kids to look after. And don’t be the kind of parent who tells their kids exercise is good for them but doesn’t follow their own advice. Kids are smarter than that.

          If you’re really struggling with managing your fitness and your kids, combine the two. Find a field and play frisbee for a few hours, go swimming, take a walk around the lake and feed some ducks. There are so many fun and cheap ways to exercise with your kids, the only limits are your imagination.

          You kids should be your biggest reason to exercise, not your biggest excuse.

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          6. I don’t have anyone to train with.

          What you’re really saying with this fitness excuse is that you don’t have anyone to talk with while you train. If you’re training properly, you won’t need to talk.

          Don’t get me wrong, having a training partner is great but here’s what you’ve got to understand: most people first meet their training partners at the gym. The reason you probably don’t have anyone to train with is because you don’t have many friends who train. Like attracts like.

          By becoming someone who regularly trains, you’ll start attracting people into your life who also value health and fitness. You have to earn your training partners, they don’t come free.

          7. I don’t feel very well.

          After you get into the habit of overriding your fitness excuses and working out regularly, the thought of missing a workout starts to drive you insane. When I broke my jaw in two places the doctors told me I couldn’t lift heavy weights for three months. What did I do? I lifted light weights instead. Train smart, not hard.

          At some point in our lives we’ve all pretended to be ill so we could skip a day of school. Some of the better actors among us probably blurred the lines in their mind between real symptoms and those imagined. It’s easy to exaggerate things when it fits our agenda.

          If you’re really sick, I don’t recommend you train. But feeling a bit tired or achy – that’s no reason to skip a workout.

          8. The gym is too expensive or far.

          If you think you need a gym to achieve your fitness goals, you’ve been seriously misled.

          The world is your fitness playground. Ever watched a training scene from a Rocky movie? He chases chickens, runs up steps, punches meat, and chops wood. Many people cite these scenes as their favorite.  Something about training dirty and raw resonates deep within us.

          There are whole fitness subcultures dedicated to working out outdoors, and without formal equipment. Ever heard of Calisthenics, Tai Chi, Yoga or Parkour? Look them up.

          If you want to put on muscle, try some typical strongman training like chopping wood, flipping tires, lifting barrels. Remember, if it’s important enough to you, you’ll find a way. Arnold Schwarzenegger made his own gym equipment out of chairs and sticks for the first year he trained. He claims he gained 25 pounds of muscle from doing this.

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          9. I don’t know how to train properly.

          If you’re reading this article, you’re obviously more than capable of figuring this out. The internet is brimming with routines and training tips. This site alone will give you more than you need. Read these 10 tips for better workouts, perfect for beginners.

          However, it’s important that you don’t get too engulfed in the theory of ‘training properly’. Like most things in life, you learn best on the job. Ask people in the gym to show you how to use proper technique, then practice through action.

          People love giving out tips. You might even get a training partner out of it.

          10. I feel intimidated by the fit people there.

          This is normal and everyone has this when they first start out. The environment is new, everyone there looks like they know what they’re doing. You feel like you’re in someone else’s home.

          The number one reason you feel intimidated when you go to the gym is because you don’t go enough! If you started going regularly you’d get used to the place, the people and your fitness would improve. Everyone knows training improves your confidence. Just stick with it. It’s something you’ll laugh at a few months down the line.

          Anyone can get in great shape. Anyone can become fit. But very few people ever do because they give in to their natural inclination to minimize time and effort.

          Stop making excuses and just stick with it for two months. After that you’ll be finding excuses to workout even when you do have important stuff to get on with.

          Featured photo credit: United Artists, Chartoff-Winkler Productions via Rocky (1976)

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