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

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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          Published on November 29, 2018

          When is the Best Time to Workout to Get Incredible Results

          When is the Best Time to Workout to Get Incredible Results

          “I don’t have time”

          is the number one excuse people give when they’re asked how come they don’t exercise.

          In the book The Power of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz, it says that it’s management of our energy levels and not time that is the key to higher performance. If we kept our energy levels in check and made sure that every part of our lives contributed to positive energy levels, we would be able to get more done.

          One of those aspects that give us energy is exercise.

          Exercise is the fuel that gives us energy and an activity that keeps on giving even if we are sitting around day in the office and in meetings.

          Reaping the benefits of a good workout is immediate. We have better focus and concentration; we are more alert and awake; we manage our mood better and have more creativity after a good workout than if we skipped the gym.

          If you’d like to get started working out I’m going cover the pros and cons to exercising at different times of the day so that you can find a time that fits for your lifestyle and schedule.

          So, when is the best time to work out? Let’s get started!

          Working out in the Morning

          Most people aspire to exercise first thing in the morning and get it out of the way. If this is you, read on to find out the additional benefits of getting your workout done in the morning.

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          Benefits of Morning Workouts

          1. The rest of the day is yours

          Exercise and lifting weights is a staple and a habit in my life but it’s also the biggest to-do on my list. When I exercise first thing in the morning, then I’m free to do whatever I want the rest of the day. This is why I have a very strong preference of exercising in the morning as oppose to afternoons or evenings.

          I schedule my day with my biggest to-dos first while I have the energy and focus at the beginning of the day. But the more I procrastinate about my workout and putting it on my list for later, the bigger that reminder to exercise sits on my shoulder.

          My mind feels free when I finish my workout and this is the main reason I get my exercise in as soon as the day allows; and if I have to get up before the sun rises, then so be it.

          2. Gyms are less crowded and there is more equipment available

          Here’s the best part about working out early in the morning – there is not competition for equipment.

          Most people typically struggle with getting up early in the morning except for the elderly. And in the morning, the gym floors are pretty sparse, this means there is no wait for equipment or competing for floor space.

          I live in the crowded city of San Francisco where the gyms are packed once it gets to 9 AM, so the best times to get in if I want a squat rack is before 8 AM. Plus, the gym equipment is organized so I can find the free weights I want without much effort and there is usually a bench available.

          3. You have more energy and more clarity to fire up the day

          After you drag yourself to the gym at the crack of dawn, you will walk out of there with more energy and clarity then when you stepped in. Not only will you wide awake but you have extra energy on top of your cup of coffee.

          The extra burst of creativity and focus keeps you productive so that you’re able to make more progress on your projects at work and finish earlier.

          4. You become more consistent

          The ones who see results are the ones who are consistent and morning people are definitely more consistent than people who postpone their workouts later in the day.[1]

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          This is because as the day starts to unfold, unexpected meetings and events come up that can cut into or even eliminate gym time. If you want to workout more consistently, get your workout in first thing in the morning before life happens.

          Downsides of Morning Workouts

          1. You’re a zombie on the floor

          Of course dragging yourself out of bed before the sun rises is why most people struggle with morning workouts. Some of us, like me, don’t want to talk to anyone before a certain time and get really short on a lack of sleep.

          To combat morning zombie, make sure to get at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep.

          2. Your preparation starts the night before

          Your workout may happen in the morning but your preparation starts the night before. If you’re a last minute person and not a planner, you will struggle in the mornings to get out the door in time.

          Packing everything you need for the gym in the morning is the key to getting to your workout in that day. Support successful mornings by modifying your night time routine in order to prepare for the next day.

          How to Make It Easier to Wake Up

          The first step is to make a commitment and stick with it. Don’t go back and forth the night before on whether you should go to the gym in the morning.

          Make the decision to go in the morning and focus your energy on making it happen.

          When you create that habit, you do it even if your workout is less than optimal and you’re not completely ‘all there’ or you’re a zombie in the morning. Just keep going because repetition makes it easier and the more often you go, the easier it gets.

          Eventually your brain will catch up and start to automatically be awake at those times.

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          A question you can ask yourself is what can you do to make it easier for you?

          Can you set your workout clothes out the night before? Or have your breakfast prepared the night before? Or if you’re an alarm snoozer, put your alarm across the room and set back up alarms to make sure you get out of bed to shut them off.

          Again, what can you do to make it 20 seconds easier to help you get up and out of the door in the morning?

          Working out in the Afternoon/Evening

          So what about working out in the evening? Is it a good time to help achieve your fitness goals?

          Benefits of Evening Workouts

          1. Your body performance is at its peak

          When you’re training in the afternoon, your warm ups can be shorter because your body temperature increases throughout the day.

          A higher body temperature leads to increased flexibility,[2] overall muscle strength,[3] and increased endurance.

          Not only does the combination of low blood pressure and heart rate in the afternoon lead to faster reaction times and better performance, but also less likelihood injury.

          At the same time the muscle growth hormone testosterone also peaks in the afternoon which is great for maximizing resistance training.

          2. An accountability partner is easier to come by

          If you’re someone who needs accountability partner to make it to the gym consistently, it could be easier to find a workout buddy in the afternoon than it is in the early morning. There is more flexibility in scheduling during lunch or after work as oppose to early mornings because it could cut into your sleep.

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          3. You have more class options

          If you’re a class person or like to attend group classes, I found that there are more class options in the afternoon/evening times versus mornings. So your favorite instructor may teach a couple more classes in the afternoon during the week giving you more flexibility in your schedule.

          4. It’s a great way to destress after a long day

          One of my favorite reasons to workout in the afternoon is the relief it provides after a long day at work. This is especially true for those who work long stressful hours. That hour you spend at the gym is dedicated you time to zone out is completely relaxing for the mind.[4]

          Downsides of Evening Workouts

          1. Consistency could take a back seat

          Postponing your workouts till later in the day means you are more likely to skip your workouts because of an unexpected event. You’re also more likely to be low on energy after a long stressful day or you have to stay late at work and cancel your workout.

          I find afternoon and evening workouts challenging because I’m ready to wind down after a long day and instead have to find the energy to wind up and be mentally prepared for my workout.

          2. Crowded gyms and classes

          For the most part, gyms are packed in the afternoon because of the after work crowd and in some cases gyms require you to RSVP to classes ahead of time due to limited spots. Majority of the people prefer working out after work and you’ll see an influx in crowds at the gym.

          3. Additional preparation required

          Working out after work means you need to be more mindful of your meals and make sure that you have prepared additional snacks to help you get through your workout.

          It also means lugging around an extra bag with your gym clothes and other essentials.

          Conclusion

          At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what time of day you workout because your body will adjust to your schedule when you go the same times every time. What’s important is that you find a time that you can go to the gym consistently that works with your schedule.

          It’s important to be consistent because consistency is what’s going to get you results. The road to results is simple but not easy. Mastering consistency year round is what is going to make you leaner and stronger one year from now.

          Featured photo credit: Autumn Goodman via unsplash.com

          Reference

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