We’ve all been there. We vow to change our lives for the better. We set ourselves targets and list priorities and we’re super-motivated. It seems easy at first when our outlook is positive and we can see the results. Then things get more difficult, we have some setbacks and the initial burst of energy and motivation runs out leaving us a little disappointed and frustrated. It’s during this process that we need to hone our methods and distill them into five simple daily habits; a sustainable program that we can achieve even when tired or lacking in energy. These daily habits are for the long term and, once entrenched in your routine, will actually change your life for the better. Allowing you to achieve way more than before and feel good doing it.
1/ Focus on the process, not the outcome
The trick here is to keep your mind in the ‘now’, really concentrating on the task you’re working on. If you’re washing up then you could concentrate on the glass in your hand, on the hot water and the bubbles. Try and stop your mind from flashing forward to the next task. If you’re reading or writing, absorb yourself in the words and phrases, in the meaning of each sentence and how they hang together in paragraphs.Then concentrate and appreciate the overall meaning. Don’t allow yourself to daydream about anything further into the future. The process is the most important thing at this point; other concerns will come later.
This can be applied to everything whether working out at the gym, cooking a meal or knitting a sweater. It helps in maintaining a calm mind and a relaxed demeanor. The habit to cultivate is remembering that there is absolutely no pressure for any specific outcome in the future, just a ‘flow’ experience in the now.
2/ Remind yourself of your motives
Always remind yourself of your most important reason for doing what you’re doing. You want to change your life, going as far as writing it on a post-it and sticking it on the wall in front of you to reinforce the motive. Whether it’s to pay the bills, to provide for your family, for self-improvement or simply to relax, it really helps to regularly remind yourself of why you’re spending time on that particular action. You’ll focus better and you’ll fulfill the task according to that remit, without letting other goals get in the way.
3/ Always try to be your best self
Whenever you feel conflicted about how to deal with a problem, remind yourself of who you really are, or at least who you truly would like to think you are: a kind, honest, moral person. If you must make a choice in dealing with a difficult situation then remind yourself of the qualities that you admire and apply them to the dilemma. Do your utmost to act in a way that is consistent with those standards.
In doing this, you will seldom disappoint yourself or feel guilty about your actions at a later date. You can feel good in the fact that you did your best and tried to uphold your own high standards. This is particularly important when facing a personal or professional difficulty that stimulates a strong emotional response. This might be criticism from a loved one or the feeling of being let down or betrayed by a close friend.
4/ Be kind to yourself
Acknowledge that you’re human and cut yourself some slack. For example, if you’re tired, don’t push yourself but instead allow yourself to break big tasks into smaller ones and just do a smaller amount. In doing so, you’re still moving forward and making progress, just a little slower and a little easier. Sometimes just taking the pressure off yourself is enough to kick-start your energy and motivation. If you still feel tired then it’s time to be kind to yourself. Program some downtime where you can read, take a long bath, walk in the countryside or get some extra sleep. Listening to your body is key and will actually increase productivity and satisfaction in the long run.
5/ Celebrate every achievement
At the end of each and every day, look at what you’ve achieved, however much or little, and give yourself a pat on the back. If you’ve been particularly productive throughout the week then you might celebrate with a meal at a restaurant or a posh coffee and cake at a nice tea shop. The thing is to focus on what you’ve done, not what you’ve failed to do. Quite often we set unachievable goals for ourselves, so recognize that and know that, even if you didn’t achieve everything you set out to do, you did your very best within your own personal limits. That in itself is an achievement worth celebrating. The action of self-congratulations is a healthy habit to cultivate. The most important person’s opinion is your own and you should be the first person to be proud of all of your achievements.
Each of these five steps will help you every day to be productive and happy. The goal is never to be perfect, never to compete with anyone, but simply to cultivate motivation and fulfillment. These five simple daily habits will prove to be powerful and motivating and you’ll soon be changing your life for the better.