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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 February 14, 2019

          15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

          15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

          Starting such a journey is never easy and you must remember this is not a crash diet, it is a lifestyle. Don’t panic and think you have to do it all at once as this will most likely overwhelm you. You may also find yourself giving up because crash diet are not sustainable.

          The best approach is to make simple changes to your daily habits and over time, you will notice all your bad habits have turned into good habits.

          Accordingly to a study by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behaviour becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.[1] And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.

          Here are 15 fitness goals to help you on your journey:

          1. Drink More Water

          W.H.Auden said it best when he said ‘Thousands Have Lived Without Love, Not One Without Water’. With any diet, the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drinking water will support your body with digestion, transporting nutrition to your body and even help improve cognitive function.

          Ideally, you want to drink about half your body weight in ounces per day i.e. if you weight 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day.

          Hopefully, by following this rule, you will be able to maintain a consistent consumption of water per day.

          2. Add Some Lemon & Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Water

          It is recommended we sleep for about 8 hours a day, this means we spend about 8 hours per day dehydrated. Therefore, hydrating your body first thing in the morning is absolutely necessary.

          The best way to achieve hydration is by starting your day with a glass or even two of water. For that extra boost, add lemon juice and ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. The lemon and apple cider vinegar will help your body with detoxifying, cleansing and digestion

          3. Stop Drinking Your Calories

          Yes, keeping hydrated is important but try to avoid high calorie drinks such as soft drinks, speciality coffee and juices as they are full of fast acting sugar.

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          Really push yourself to stop drinking such drinks and before you know it, you will notice the benefits.

          4. Start Stretching More Often

          Always remember to stretch! The benefits are vast and the repercussions of failing to stretch can be dramatic.

          Do yourself a favour and always stretch before and after a workout. This will promote a healthy cool down, improve flexibility and reduce next day aches. Failure to stretch can lead to injures and muscle damage.

          So, the next time you work out, don’t forget you dedicate a few minutes to stretching before and after your workout. You will thank me for it later!

          Here’re some simple stretching exercises you can start trying:

          15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

          5. Add in Some High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

          You may have heard about HIIT training because it is the big thing right now and believe me when I say ‘It works!’.

          The benefits include lower body fat, increased stamina, leaner muscles and fantastic hormonal benefits.

          HIIT is where you perform an intense exercise, for a very short time frame (about 30 seconds) followed by a slower exercise for about 90 seconds.

          Performing a HIIT routine for 1-3 times a week will lead to great results.

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          6. Focus on Your Breathing When You Work Out

          For the most part, breathing is second nature to most of us. But when exercising, you may find yourself holding your breath and this is not good.

          It is important to consciously take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, this will fill your lungs with oxygen.

          7. Build More Lean Muscle

          We all want to have lean muscles because not only does it look good, it has great health benefits:

          • Improved posture
          • Reduced body fat
          • Improved metabolism
          • Strong bones
          • Protects and improves joint health
          • Improves stamina

          Learn more about building muscle in this guide:

          How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

          8. Decrease Body Fat

          This may seem like an obvious one but it is one of the most important steps to a healthier you. Reducing your body fat has a lot of benefits such as:

          • Improved joints and tendons
          • Lowered risk of diabetes
          • Reduced risk of heart disease
          • Reduced inflammation
          • Better performance and endurance
          • Improved appearance and confidence
          • Better hormonal profiles in your body

          Remember, it is not a race to see how quickly you can decrease your body fat, a healthy weight loss is around 1-2 pounds a week.[2]

          Crash dieting or pushing yourself too much in the gym can lead to you achieving an unrealistic target, and you may find yourself gaining all the weight you have lost.

          Think of it as a lifestyle and take it slow and steady.

          9. Eat More Greens

          What you eat is the most important factor in a healthier living plan. It is important to ensure you are getting as many nutrients and vitamins from the food you are eating as possible.

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          Focus on dark, leafy greens as they will provide you with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants – all of which you body needs!

          Don’t forget to avoid processed and manufactured food. They are usually high in fat and have minimal vitamins.

          10. Start Eliminating Sugar

          Another top goal you can start immediately is reducing the amount of sugar you consume. It also won’t cost you anything, save you money and improve your health in the long run.

          There’s no surprise we eat too much sugar and this should be one of your top goals moving forward (eliminating or drastically reducing sugar).

          Cutting out liquid calories is a great way to start. If you’re looking for something sweet, turn to fruits or even dark chocolate.

          11. Allow Yourself to Rest and Recovery

          The workout is where you go to breakdown the muscle tissue and it builds back through proper nutrition, rest and recovery. It might be tempting to go to the gym for two hours every day as hard as you can to achieve your goals but that’s not the most effective approach.

          If you don’t allow for proper rest and recovery, it can set you back a few steps. Your body is more prone to injury and even illness as you can weaken your immune system from all the progressive intensity the body is facing.

          12. Get More Sleep

          When you are deprived of sleep, you make it next to impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals. Lack of sleep can increase stress hormones in your body and over time these can lead to a lot of inflammation and chronic diseases.[3]

          Make sleep a priority to let your body heal and rejuvenate. A good approach is 7 to 8 hours. Also, allow yourself some wind-down time and a pre-bed routine to help get more consistent sleep every night.

          13. Focus on the Habit and Not the Result

          It’s easy to get caught up in trying to achieve a certain look or shed time off of your mile, but the more important focus is on the habit that will bring you those goals.

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          Don’t look at the scale, the tape measure, or the body fat percentage. Focus on the habits that will lead to those achievements.

          Don’t compare yourself to where others are, you’re right where you need to be.

          14. Take Your Fitness Outside

          This may be hard depending on the weather you experience, but the more you can be outside exposed to fresh air and sunlight, the better.

          Being stuck in the gym doing cardio while staring at a wall won’t do much for your mental stimulation.

          Try to challenge your body more by getting outside. Hiking is great and also just running and walking. Give yourself more mental stimulation and a constantly changing environment. It also beats breathing in that recycled gym air.

          15. Do at Least One Pull Up

          This is a great last goal to focus on because it’s a great test of strength and to see how you are progressing with your fitness.

          If you haven’t been able to do one, you know what a challenge it can be. Having the goal of doing at least one pull up will not only show you how far you’ve progressed but is a great way to become dedicated and motivated.

          The Bottom Line

          It will become more attainable through the year if you’re consistent with your fitness. Set yourself a concrete timeline as when you want to accomplish some or all of these goals. In fact, start making one of these goals happen this month!

          This guide on achieving goals will be helpful for you:

          How to Set Goals and Achieve Them Successfully

          Featured photo credit: ivan Torres via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Phillippa Lally: How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world
          [2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
          [3] Unity Point: The Scary Truth About Sleep Deprivation and Chronic Diseases

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