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5 Things You Can Do Before Bed To Jump Start Tomorrow

5 Things You Can Do Before Bed To Jump Start Tomorrow

Ben Franklin told us years ago, “The early bird catches the worm.” But perhaps we can amend that now to say: The Worm that Gets a Jump Start Gets His Prize!”

It’s no great news flash to share that we all live in a very busy world. It slows down for no one and almost seems as if we’re in a constant state of playing catch up. Life, people and circumstances demand our time, energy and thoughts constantly – or so it seems. This state of always being in demand and constantly being at the beck and call of outside influences can be draining to say the least and overwhelming to put it mildly! How can we ever hope to get a jump on all of the things that we’re supposed to do and take part in? Is there a way?

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Well actually there is…and how you do it, can put you a step ahead of those who share your same burdens.

How you get that extra jump is very simple…you prepare the night before!

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Want to feel more in control of your time?

Take a look at your calendar. Whether you keep your calendar digitally or in paper form, spend a little time each evening actually consulting it. Take a look at what’s coming up. Is there a doctor’s appointment, you set a few months ago? A party coming up that you agreed to attend? A lunch date with a friend? When you look at your calendar on a regular basis, you are creating a mental stamp in your mind of time blocks that have been committed to a certain purpose. It helps keep you focused as to what’s coming up next that needs your attention. There are so many wonderful calendar tools that we have at our disposal to keep track of our time, use them and gain a sense of knowing what is going on in your own life and maybe you’ll feel a little less like you’re flying by the seat of your pants!

Want to feel more energetic?

Get the  gym bag ready! This is huge. I don’t know anyone these days who doesn’t complain at one time or another that they’d like to have more energy. We each have found some coping mechanism to get us through the day and especially the morning (if you’re naturally a night owl). Whether you gravitate to that morning “cuppa joe” or protein shake or energy supplement. We all are looking for that magic bullet to restore our energy and revitalize us. And while we may have moderate amounts of success with the above, the cold hard truth is, that we need to exercise. Our bodies, in addition to being fed, also demand being exercised. What better way to get a jump on the excuse, “I don’t have time to prepare” than to pack a gym bag the night before! Get your shirt, shorts, yoga pants, tennis shoes, water bottle, etc. and stick them in a bag and have it by the door ready. When you leave to start your day, the bag gets scooped up too!

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Want to sleep better?

Turn off your phone for better sleep – This really should be a no brainer, but sadly, there are those who are so completely addicted to technology that they have a sense of needing to be “plugged into” the world at all times. You’ve seen them. Those people who constantly have a cell phone in their hands. Texting, talking or downloading the next hottest app is a ever constant state of being. So, is it hard to understand that they actually sleep with the phone by their bed? This ultimately leads to being awakened with every subtle little blip or beep of the phone. Your body simply can’t shut down operations for the night and restore itself if it is constantly being alerted with every little message. TURN OFF YOUR PHONE! Or better yet, don’t even have it in the same room with you. Leave it in another location and come to it in the morning. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have legs…it’ll still be there!

Want to gain a sense of self?

Write in a journal. Journaling is one of the best ways of reconnecting to self. Since we are so distracted with the needs of others and demanding circumstances that we find ourselves involved in, it becomes very easy to lose one’s sense of identity. When a person journals, they are taking the time to mentally clean their slates. Self examination of feelings, motives and plans for the future allows for mental preparation for what lies ahead.

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Want to relax?

Read a real book – Immerse yourself in a story. Go back in time or allow yourself to be propelled into the future. Perhaps, become an investigator or a world explorer! Anything is possible inside the covers of a good book. When we allow ourselves to be transported to another time or place or simply to be engrossed in a story, we are freeing our minds of the stresses of today and mentally preparing (whether we know it or not) for what is waiting for us when we wake up tomorrow. 

In summary,  we have more of a say so in what takes up our time and thoughts than what we realize. It’s truly as simple as making a decision as to what you actually consider to be a priority. Life doesn’t happen to you, you make it happen with how you choose to respond to circumstances and how you choose to prepare for those things you know are on the horizon. You can choose to put your head in the sand like an ostrich and hope they’ll go away or you’ll miss the hard stuff or you can be like that worm that Ben Franklin told us about years ago and jump start on “it” (whatever it is) …EARLY!

Featured photo credit: A Leaf in Morning Dew via picjumbo.picjumbocom.netdna-cdn.com

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Cathy Robinson

Cathy blogs about mental strength, motivation and happiness at Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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