Category

Habits

Category

Everyone knows exercise is good for health.

And you want to start a workout routine and wish it were a habit.

You start jogging, do it for two weeks, and you are back to normal life.

Don’t worry; it happens to everyone.

But it doesn’t mean that you are destined to live your life wishing away.

To make any change in your life and make it permanent, you have to want it bad enough.

Anyone can tell you how to do it, but to make real lasting change, you have to make a decision.

If you have read Napoleon Hill’s famous book Think and Grow Rich, he says, to achieve any desire, first and foremost you should have a BURNING DESIRE.

It is the knowledge that how you want your life to be, that changes your habits.

So here are  10 tips to create an exercise habit and stick with it.

1. Link your new exercise habit to any existing behaviour

When you want to create a new habit, it is helpful to link it with any existing habit of yours.

In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg, talks about how habits are formed.

There is a cue-routine-reward cycle to any habit. If you link your new work out habit to any existing habit, your old habit is your cue.

Find your own best time to do exercise, morning or evening. And link your new exercise habit to any of your morning/evening habits.

For example, you brush your teeth every morning. You can decide to do your workout straight after brushing teeth. Or if in the evening, may be after you come from work. Find out what time works best for you.

Linking your new exercise habit to an old habit works because the old habit is more established and therefore your brain has a strong neural connection for those habits.
This method is called habit stacking and has been mentioned by authors like BJ Fogg, SJ Scott etc.

Start a workout habit and stick with it

2. start small

When you are creating a new habit, always remember to start small. Your aim is to create a new workout habit and make sure to stick with it.

In the beginning, what you should focus on is, building consistency rather than reaping benefits. Starting small will help you in showing up everyday.

This is a way for you to tell your brain that you want to make this a routine and your brain will start building new neural pathways. As you perform the routine more often these neural pathways will get reinforced and rewire your brain, creating a new habit.

If you aim for a full hour workout in the beginning, it might feel overwhelming after a couple of days, and you might procrastinate or even stop trying. You can aim to start with,

  •  10 minutes walk.
  •  5 minute stretching
  • 5 pushups
  • A warm up

These are some examples, but of course you can change the duration or repetition according to your ability.

3. Set a time

You have more chances of doing exercise, or for that matter, any habit, if you have scheduled a time for it in your day.

If you are thinking to yourself, I will do yoga tomorrow morning, chances are you will postpone it. Because you know you want to do it, but don’t know when.

If you think, ‘I will do yoga tomorrow morning at 7 am’, I bet you will do it.

So grab your planner, (or whatever scheduler you are using) and block time for your workout.
I use my bullet journal for scheduling everything.

Read more: How to start a bullet journal in easy steps, even if you are no artist

4. Make a plan

You must be having an idea about what results you want from your daily exercise.
It could be weight loss, more energy, toning your abs etc.

Make a plan to achieve your goals. Decide what kind of workout will excite you and will give you the results. It could be yoga, gym, swimming etc. or a combination of different exercises.

Whatever it is, decide what your exercise routine is gonna be.
If you want to tone down your abs, find 5-10 exercises that will help you achieve that ( Youtube and Pinterest have lots of information on this ).

If you want to increase strength, find some strength training exercises. Same with cardio, pilates etc.

Deciding what to do, when to do and how to do them are important because you get a well thought out plan. Your brain knows what you exactly want and that makes you stick with your exercise habit.

You can’t reach your destination if you don’t now where you are going.

5. Have an accountability partner

Having an accountability partner does immense help in achieving your goals.
They help you stay on track and cheerlead you when you are feeling down.

Having an accountability partner works because human beings generally do not like disappointing others, especially the people they like.

We might postpone and act lazy when we are unmotivated. But the thought of answering to someone if you don’t do it is embarrassing for us. So we do them anyway.

I hope you get me.

When we embark on achieving something, there will be moments when you don’t feel like doing it, or life throws you something, or you feel you are not doing a good job (we are our worst critics), you will need someone to pull you up, and help you get back on track.

Yes, forming a new habit may not be that easy. But when you think about the end results, you are sure it is worthy.

You can make anyone you trust to be an accountability partner. It could be a close friend, spouse or someone you look upto.

6. Join a fitness class

Having talked about accountability partners, joining a fitness class or a gym can itself hold you accountable.

You are paying for it, and you know you are bound to show up no matter what.

If it is nearby your home or workplace, the better. Let not the long commute put you off.

create exercise habit fitness class

7. Inspire yourself

 To stay motivated, social media channels like Instagram and other search engines like Youtube and Pinterest help me a lot.
I follow a few fitness and healthy eating enthusiasts on these media.

So checking social media once in a while reminds me of my goals and aspirations. And it inspires me to achieve my fitness goals.

Well, now I know social media can be put to good use also.

You could do this too.

8. Stick with your exercise habit no matter what

Now don’t kill yourself when a slip up occurs. Nor should it be a reason to skip the habit altogether.

But what to do when life happens?

1. Get back on track as soon as possible

Even if you miss one or two days, get back into your routine the next day itself. If you miss more days deliberately, it means it’s gonna escape you. 

2. Reschedule it

If you have any emergency to tend to on your exercise hours, take care of it. See if you can schedule it for a later time during the day. If you were to go to the gym in the morning and couldn’t make it, may be you could go in the evening or go for a walk in the evening.

3. Do in small ways

James Clear often talks about sticking with habits each day in small ways. Missing one day’s workout is not gonna make you fat. But it is the cumulative effect that will make you skip the habit altogether.

You can’t let it happen. Just stick to the plan, even if it is in the smallest way.

If you are gonna miss a workout, at least do the warmup, or some stretches.

If you were planning to walk for an hour, walk around the block for 15 minutes.

Whatever you were intending to do, you can do the smaller version of it. This lets your brain know that it is important to you. And thus the process of rewiring occur.

After a while you will find that you don’t feel like yourself when you skip a workout.

9. Do 30 day workout challenges

All change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end. – Robin Sharma

Creating a new exercise habit can be hard, especially in the beginning your mind and body try to resist the change as much as possible.

30 day challenges are a good way to start an exercise habit. It starts small, you can track it and you stick with it for 30 days.
It motivates you to not miss a day because you have a deadline.

When we have a deadline, we tend to perform better. It creates a pressure and forces us to show up everyday.

Though you will be getting the benefits after 30 days, don’t stop there. It has given you a head start for your lifelong fitness journey (hopefully).

You can google and get numerous challenges that focus on each body part or even fully body workouts. Pinterest is also a great resource for this.

how to start an exercise habit and stick with it

10. Have variety of fitness activities

Try to incorporate different kinds of physical activities in your exercise regimen. Because it keeps exercise interesting and enjoyable.

You are not stuck with one form of exercise. Experiment with different types and find out what you enjoy most and gives you good results.

If Mondays are for yoga, Tuesdays can be for weight training, Wednesdays for jogging etc.

You get the benefits of different forms of exercises and kick out boredom.

Of course, trying everything at once is not advisable. Take it slow.

11. Journal your progress

Keeping a workout journal helps you track your progress. It inspires you to look back on how much you have achieved, and to keep going.

It keeps you on schedule. The thought of not able to cross off “workout” in my bullet journal makes me do my workout no matter how lazy I feel. You perform better when you have to answer to someone ( in this case, your journal).

It creates a sense of accomplishment and builds my self esteem when, at the end of the day, I can mark it in my bullet journal.

You can record your fitness goals in the journal and track them daily. It helps you to measure your progress.

Read more: 10 ways journal writing will change your life

12. Reward yourself

Your aim is to start an exercise habit. Thus, you might be starting small. You might not see the results on your body yet.

But remember, first we wanna make this habit stick. Reward yourself for the efforts you are taking to make this change in your life.

No matter how small, if you are making changes to create a better life, you deserve to appreciate yourself.

So often we quit soon because we fail to see how far we have come, even if they are baby steps.

Here is an article to read on how to reward yourself after a workout.

Like any habit, creating a workout habit requires time, patience and a lot of effort. Workouts are not always easy and fun, but they are always worth it.

Like I said, after a while you get used to the adrenaline rush, which will make you crave for the workout and then it becomes part of your daily life.

How to start an exercise habit that sticks

So what more tips would you add to the list? Please comment below.

 

journaling can change your life-10 benefits of journaling

Before you dismiss of journaling habit as something only the intelligent ones or the creative ones do, let me tell you something:

Journaling can be for everyone.

Great men like Benjamin Franklin, Theodore Roosevelt, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill and many more, had journals.

So what is the relation between writing journals and becoming great?

It’s not that simply writing in a journal can make you great. It is how you use it, makes the difference.

If you think you don’t know what to write in a journal or don’t know how to start, let me help.

Here are some of the things you can write in a journal (or 10 benefits of journal writing)

1.Record daily insights that touch you

Benefits of journal writing

As humans we have an average of 60-65k thoughts per day. Among them there might be some wonderful thoughts, ideas and life lessons that we learn from our experiences on a daily basis.

You can record them in your journal. We grow as a person when we learn from our lessons. Recording them on your journal helps you to remember them more.

Another benefit, journaling sometimes gives you interesting revelations about yourself which you wouldn’t have normally thought about.

2. Write about your goals and record progress

Instead of simply writing about your days, you can also use journaling to keep track of your life. It helps in planning your life as you want it to be.

You can have a goal tracker or a habit tracker drawn (or dedicate a separate section for it). And at the end of each day, evaluate how much you did accomplish.

As the saying goes,

What gets measured,  gets done.”

It helps in not losing your focus on your goals, and acts as a reminder why you want to achieve a certain goal. When you write down your goals, you are committing yourself to do it. It reminds your brain that this is important for you and thus your brain causes you to notice more opportunities which help in achieving them.

Having a written plan in your journal will help you kick procrastination habit and bring more order in your life by getting things done.

Related: How to overcome procrastination caused by fear?

3. Write about your desires

As humans, we all spend some time wishing about future; the list of things we want to do, or want to have.

It can be about ideas for expanding business, the kind of body you want to have, the places you want to go, the activities you want to check off your bucket list, the new dish you want to make etc.

A journal is a great place to jot down all these. Research has proved that what we write down we retain more. Thus, there are more chances of taking action. And you definitely want to have those wonderful experiences, right?

4. Lessons from your past experiences

Don’t let your past dictate who you are, but let it be part of who you will become.

Your journal is a little window to your past.

Looking back you have those memories to smile or cry or learn.

It also helps in analyzing your growth as a person. Like what made you upset years ago doesn’t even have a place in your life right now or you realize you cried over trivial things. Such things make you realize how important it is to spend your time more wisely. And manage your emotions in a new light.

You can also write about daily events, not necessarily daily, but the memorable events of your day. The ones you would like to revisit later in life.

5. A tool to release pent-up emotions

Journal writing habit benefits

Today we have all kinds of journals planners and apps to help us do our tasks, but we are distracted more than ever because of the temptation to give in to the social media notifications. This virtual escape does not help in dealing with our thoughts and problems.

When we get overwhelmed due to our circling thoughts, we try to numb our minds with social media. It has become a new medium for relaxation.

But time spent on social media doesn’t always relax our minds and give focus. It gives only distraction.

We should rely on a medium that helps us channel our thoughts onto a focused solution. You can dump your thoughts in a journal, or you can just use it for brainstorming. It helps us to clear our minds, relax and take better decisions.

When my mind is overwhelmed with difficult emotions, I do freewriting in my journal (more on this in a moment).  And I write about how to solve it, how I should approach this problem and how I should improve myself so that this doesn’t occur again (being proactive). Trust me, it is super comforting. I learn about myself more on these journaling sessions and I get actionable tips for self-improvement.

It’s like having a personal therapist.

6. Organize your thoughts

You can create separate sections in your journal for each area of your life. Because to evolve as a person and be a better version of yourself, you need to grow in all aspects of life. A journal is a tool where you can plan to improve.

In my journal, I write about making improvements in career, relationships, parenting, spirituality, health, exercise etc.

I have goals for each part of my life. And it will blow me away if I were to keep all those aspirations in my mind. If it is on my journal, I know I am going to do something about it (and I do!)

You can even have different journals for different subjects but I recommend using one(or two) for everything as you can take it everywhere.

 After all, after a while you will find that your journal turns out to be your constant companion who agrees to whatever you say, be with you in everything, gives you feedback and guards your secrets like a loyal friend.

7. Write about what  you are grateful for today

Benefits of journal writing-express gratitude

I cannot stress enough how important and powerful gratitude is. I first found out about it from Rhonda Byrne’s famous book “The Secret” two years ago. There are people who scorn Law of Attraction. Even I don’t believe in sitting at one place “wishing” for things to happen and hope that a magical genie would come fulfill my desires. No! You have to move your butt and work for it. And then expect the results.

But feeling gratitude daily has changed my life.  I used to be a pessimist and would spend my days thinking about ‘lack of things’. The downside of it is, I failed to notice the good things happening in life. But when I started practicing gratitude, I found out I have more things to be happy of, than things to worry about.

Gratitude makes me ponder about the blessings I have and I never let my mind to drown in disappointing thoughts which drain the positive energy out of my day. Gratitude makes me see the good side of life, even in the most difficult circumstances.

It has really changed my life. I am happier, became more optimistic and I find more blessings come around.

For all those who want to know more about the power of gratitude, I highly recommend the book  ‘The Secret’.

You can buy the audio version here from Audible.com. (You’ll get it free along with another book, if you sign up for a free 30 day trial.)

8. Increases self discipline

Self discipline is one quality you should develop if you want to succeed in life. Successful people have one quality: they do their tasks even if they want to or not.

We all have days on which we would like to stop the alarm, pull the covers and sleep more. But showing up daily, no matter what, is what going to help you create the life you want.

With journaling habit, you are creating a habit where you are expected to show up. And self discipline is a muscle which grows as you flex it more and more.

9. It helps in healing your emotional wounds

Writing is therapeutic. It also helps you to tap into your intuitions to get answers.

It is an outlet to let flow even the most difficult and painful experiences or feelings, that you might not want to tell anyone. (Though I recommend getting an expert help if there is something you can’t solve yourself). It helps in confronting the situation and finding a way out.

You get to listen to your thoughts and feelings and express them rather than creating a storm in your head going in circles.

It is powerful because when we let our feelings out, we get more emotional clarity.

10. It helps in problem solving

Too often, we struggle to take action because of our fears and self doubt.

In the primitive age, our body would produce fear to protect us from external danger ( like wild animals ). The truth is, still today, our brain triggers fear when we are about to step into the unknown. But we get engulfed in our fears without realizing there is no such potential danger.

Often we choose to stay in the safe zone, even if it doesn’t give us the happiness we deserve. We choose unhappiness over uncertainty.

But, a journal could help you in fighting your fears. And control the fear which is affecting the quality of your life.

How is it possible?

Tim ferris, a bestselling author and blogger, teaches an exercise called “fear-setting”, in his book Tools of Titans.  He says, fear setting helped him in overcoming difficult fears in life. Here is an article to learn more about fear-setting.

And also watch Tim’s TED talk(2017) on it, here.

You need not do this exercise in a journal. You can do it in a piece of paper too. But, a journal is going to be with you always and you can always refer back to it when needed.

Finally, there you are.

You have 10 reasons  to start journaling today. Grab a book and start writing. If you are still unsure about what to write, you can try freewriting in the beginning.

Freewriting means writing whatever comes to your mind for a set period of time, without regard to spelling or grammar.

Set a timer for 10-15 minutes. Write what you are thinking right now, even if it sounds stupid. Write even if you don’t get anything to write. It can go like this.

I don’t know what to write about. Nothing comes to my mind. Right now, I’m freewriting. I think this will help me in putting my thoughts onto paper. I bought a journal. In it I will write about …….

You see often it will give you ideas that you might have not got if you stayed in your mental chatter. Freewriting is usually used to warm up writing routine when you face writer’s block. You don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or any error here. Neither should you stop to read what you wrote. Do not lose contact of your pen with paper.

I’d like to hear about your journaling habit . How has it helped you in other areas of life?

Comment below.

 

Have you ever stopped to wonder why years pass so quickly?

I have.

Though I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, I think the start of a new year is the time for reflection for many. About the goals set last year and evaluating their success rate, and making new commitments.

What makes a new year special?

I think it’s the fresh start that motivates us to set goals. A fresh start gives us a new energy. Be it a relationship, a school, a business or even a habit.

In fact a study shows that people are more likely to tackle their goals immediately after temporal landmarks (start of new year, birthdays, holidays, new week/month, semester etc). It’s called ‘fresh start effect’.

And most of us like to imagine how we will make each area of our life better, beginning from the new year. Like changing our diets, exercising more frequently or even taking up a new form of exercise, changing our thinking patterns, control anger etc.

Here I have compiled a list of best habits to have in life. If practiced, they will cause positive and remarkable changes in your life.

10 best habits to have in life for a better you

1. Gratitude

There is a reason gratitude tops my list. I have been practicing gratitude for over 2 years now. It doesn’t mean I wasn’t grateful before. But I didn’t do it as a practice.

But when I started practicing it, I can say my life changed.

I used to worry about small things in life to a large extent. And fair enough, the things I worried started showing up too.

But after starting my gratitude journal, I began to approach life more positively.

There is an old adage which says,”Happiness is not a destination, but a journey”. We postpone happiness thinking achieving a certain thing can make us happy. Or something is going on in my life right now due to which I can’t be happy.

No, it doesn’t work that way.

Even when something is not right in your life now, there are numerous other things that are perfect. Count them, express gratitude for them, to the God you believe in or to the Universe.

You can buy a gratitude journal or a simple notebook will do. Express gratitude for the things you are grateful for, each day. Don’t hesitate to write about even the smallest things that made you happy each day.

Like how your daughter told you that she loves you or even for the flower that bloomed in your garden today. You will be amazed by the changes it will bring to your life.

 Examples:

  • I am grateful to have a healthy body.
  • I am thankful I have a beautiful home to live. It keeps me warm and I have a place for all my belongings.
  • I am grateful for my kids’ health.
  • I am thankful my boss was happy with my work today.

gratitude habit- best habits to have in life

2. Inspire yourself

Zig Ziglar once said:

People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.

No matter how fired up you are to work towards your goals, there are always days you don’t feel like moving a finger. You might even feel like may be this is not something you’re meant to do. It can happen especially on the days you don’t see the results you expect.

It happens to everyone.

Therefore, it is essential to inspire yourself with motivational content every other day.

Have some books of your favorite authors handy. Or, you can listen to motivating podcasts or watch YouTube videos or Ted talks.

You can read about the lives of successful people, how they sailed through failures and learn from them.

Make a habit of reading at least two pages of a self help book or watching a short YouTube video as part of your morning routine.

3. Get out of your comfort zone more often

This year, one of my goals is to make a habit of doing uncomfortable things more often.

Comfort zone is the best place to be, right?

Who wants to have butterflies in stomach and feel fear?

No one.

 It is when you stretch your comfort zone you get to discover your true potential. It helps you to grow in life, thus achieving more.

Along with butterflies, it will give you new experiences that you would have missed out on, meet new people and explore new places. Never leaving your comfort area means staying stagnant.

So next time, when you want to say “no” to something that you wish you could do, think twice.

get out comfort zone- best habits to have in life

4. Journaling

Journaling helps you record your life. It helps you to plan your days, ensuring you are not wasting the precious 24 hours given to you.

Sometimes our thoughts can overwhelm us. A journaling habit helps in dumping our thoughts into paper, thus clearing our mind.

It’s also a great tool to plan your days and write your goals. Successful people recommend the habit of reviewing your goals on a daily basis to track your progress.

You can start on any notebook or diary. And set a time daily for performing this. Most people prefer to journal first thing in the morning, or just before bedtime.

Related:

5. Exercise

If your body is a vehicle, fuel is the food you give it to run. But you also need to do regular preventive maintenance to keep it in good shape and to prevent a sudden break down.

Exercise is the preventive maintenance you give your body to run smoothly and help you live life in the best possible way.

Regular exercise helps in improving energy, improves blood circulation, controls weight, combats diseases etc. It even boosts your mood by producing endorphins which makes you happy. And the best part is, it also reflects in all other areas of your life too.

Such habits are called keystone habits.

Charles Duhigg in his book The Power of Habit, calls exercise a keystone habit. According to Charles, it helps in creating chain reactions that helps other good habits take hold.

I have found this to be true. If we exercise regularly, we would want to eat healthy and avoid junk food as much possible. And also we get increased energy and good mood to continue with our daily chores.

6. Reading

The ultra successful people are also the ones who read a lot. If you look at Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Elon Musk, they all swear by reading habit. It has influenced their success to a large extent.

Reading opens to you new perspectives you didn’t know existed. If school gives you basic education, reading good books gives you a means to progress, improve your life, change your outlook, gives you new information that you wouldn’t get from schools or other sources.

It is a powerful habit that will give you immense benefits.

If you don’t want to read, you can listen to audiobooks. You can read this article to learn about some of the best audiobook services.

7. Set goals

For many, life is living on autopilot without new aspirations or growth, just going with the flow. Needless to say, it leads to a mediocre life.

If you want to achieve greatness in life or be remembered for something, you should have a vision and work for it. And setting goals will help you in it. It gives you a direction to follow.

Only if you have the destination mapped out, you will know when you get there.You get to measure your work against a set standard. And measuring is important since you get to know if you have attained it or not and find out what to improve.

You can set goals in all areas of life like health, work, relationships, spiritual, hobbies etc.

set goals-best habits to have in life

8. Meditation

Meditation has numerous benefits on your mind and body. It reduces the stress of daily life. Stress can give you many diseases, thus it’s important to keep it under control. When we meditate we observe our thoughts passively, without letting ourselves involve in it or have feelings.

This helps in real life, where we observe stressful events keeping a distance and thus we are more calm and we can make better decisions. Starting a meditation habit is one of the best investments you could give yourself.

Read more:

9. Be proactive

Stephen R covey in his famous book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says being proactive means, taking responsibility. If you are proactive you never look at the problem and worry, but you try to look for a solution. You do not blame people or circumstances for causing it.

I certainly believe this as one of the best habits to develop. Because when you take responsibility of the negative events happening in your life, you will look for solutions. If you blame others, you give away your power and play victim. It sabotages you and your path to success.

Proactive people create their own opportunities while reactive people wait for opportunities to come their way.

What do you want in life?

To be carried away by events, or control your responses to them and take charge of your life?

be proactive-best habits to have in life

10. Get off the online world more for real life experiences

Our smartphones, rather than being a tool of convenience, has turned into something that rules our time and our days.

Do you always feel something is missing if your phone is not near you?

If so, it’s high time you get hold back of your priorities.

What you can do is, create time blocks for you to use internet. Check e-mails, social media updates and do web browsing only in the allotted time.

You can check your emails or social media if it’s urgent, but don’t get hooked up. Log out as soon as your work is done.

 

So this is my list of 10 best habits to have in life. Habits which, if implemented, can lead you to a more productive and fruitful life.

What do you think? What other habits would you add to the list?

Please comment below.

Unlike what many think, meditation is not meant only for the spiritual people.

Benefits of meditation starting meditation habit-Buddha meditating
Source: Benjamin Balázs- Unsplash

Instant connectivity to anyone around the world, and the ability to bring any information you want on your screens just by typing a few words onto your devices, have reduced the size of our world.

But what has it done to our inner connectivity?

Are we really in sync with our inner self or just distracted every few seconds?

For most of the people, any time they take break from an activity, their hands automatically reach for the phone. And it shows distraction to the core.

Do you want to live a more fulfilling life?

Meditation could be the key to it.

I am all for habits that can positively enhance your life and help achieve the success you deserve. And I have found that meditation is one such habit that can change your life in a dramatic way.

Let me explain what meditation is and how meditation can help to change your life.

What is meditation?

Meditation is a science. It is training your mind to be still, to be conscious of the present moment and focusing inwardly by warding away the incessant mental chatter.

Even though you are awake and fully aware of your surroundings, you choose to focus inward. You do not allow your mind to let anything else disturb your focus.

Wonderful, isn’t it?

Who wouldn’t want to escape the stress of daily life and experience calm?

Mastering your mind is essential to achieve success and meditation is a tool that will help.

This ancient method developed centuries ago in India, helps us to gain control of mind and produce a sense of well-being.

benefits of meditation and how to start a meditation habit

The benefits of meditation and how it can change your life

Ian Gowler, in his book, 48 Creative Meditations, talk about the effects of meditation as:

Meditation is a key to positive thinking. The more often and the more deeply you enter into the simple silence of profound meditation, the more you return to your natural state of balance. The more balanced you are, the more it seems you connect with your own inner wisdom and all it has to offer. This is another reason to recommend you maintain a regular practice of meditation.

There are different types of meditation. Meditation is nothing but observing your thoughts passively. You can focus on any outside object or simply observe your thoughts.

You observe your thoughts and feelings coming and go, detached from them. When you make it a daily practice, you can gradually see changes in your life as well.

You don’t react to situations as you used to. When something or someone angers you, you tend to observe your thoughts calmly.

It raises awareness of how you are feeling in a moment and stay detached to any negative feeling. But unlike common perception, meditation doesn’t make you feelingless, it simply makes you more in control of your emotions.

Often when we react in the heat of the moment, we tend to say things that we don’t mean to. And the worst thing is, we can’t take them back once they are out in the air.

Imagine how good you will feel if you can remain calm in most negative situations. Mediation gives exactly that.

Researchers have proved that meditation changes the response of amygdala (a part of brain highly involved with different emotional responses). It has been proved before that the response of amygdala to emotional stimuli is lower when a person is in a mindful meditative state.

But this study took it further and has proved that amygdala response to emotional stimuli is lower even when a person is in non-meditative state.

In short, meditation affects the way our brain processes emotions even when we are not meditating. It has long term effect on our emotional responses. It also increases immunity and slows ageing. These are enough reasons to start meditation today.

But I can hear you.

Are you saying that you don’t have enough time to meditate? Or maybe don’t know how to start.

Let me help you.

How to start a meditation habit from scratch?

If you are a person who has never meditated in life, you can start easily like this.

All you need is two things: a quiet place and 2-3 minutes. You can try this even while you are reading this, now!

Though there are different types of meditation, I am talking about mindfulness meditation here. This is what I practice and my favorite. And it is an easy one to begin with.

Are you ready?

Choose a posture you are comfortable with. You can either sit on a chair or on a cushion on the floor with folded legs. Different kinds of meditation cushions are available in the market today. But if you are a beginner I suggest sitting on a chair. You can even lie down on your back, but only if you’re sure you wont sleep.

This infographic below will help in getting your posture right.

how to start meditating-meditation posture
Source: mindful.org

Now, pull out your phone or any timer and set a timer for 2 minutes.

Start focusing on your breath. Take note of each inhale and exhale. Notice how you take breaths. When your mind wanders, gently bring back your attention to breathing. No judgement here or frustration for lack of focus.

Try to stay present with your breathing, not forcefully but gently.

When you catch yourself thinking something else, acknowledge it, but don’t judge. This teaches you to observe your thoughts even when you are not meditating and helps you see things from different perspectives. And it also helps you attain that calm before reacting aggressively to different situations.

Our goal here is to be aware of whatever thought that comes into mind, not removing them.

How to make meditation a habit?

Choose a time when you can practice daily. And set a reminder to do it daily. Start with 2-3 minutes. Be consistent with the practice and slowly increase the time duration.

Choosing a small time duration will help you in establishing the habit. And also, in the beginning you might not be able to focus for 10 minutes or more.

It is better if you choose a particular time everyday and stick with it. It will help you remember the new habit.

When  you are trying to form a new habit, there is a possibility in forgetting to do it. Especially if there is no cue associated with it to remind you.

I do meditation right after journaling at night. So writing in my journal is my cue here.

I have been journaling for almost a year now. So it is an established habit. Thus I remember my meditation habit. You too should associate it with some established habits like

  • Right after brushing teeth in the morning
  • Right before going to bed
  • When you reach home from work
  • Before meal

You can also keep visual reminders by writing on post-it notes and sticking on your fridge or mirror; the places you are likely to pass by daily.

There you are, you have enough information to start meditating.

What are the challenges you face while meditating? Or even when trying to establish any habit? Let me know about it in the comments below.

 

 

How to overcome procrastination by facing your fears

Can you think of a valuable asset you have with you right now?

No matter where you come from, everyone is given this asset.

It’s nothing else, but time.

But, think about how we take care of it.

Are you living in a way, where each day of your life is as productive as possible?

No, I’m not suggesting you live like a robot and live only from a list. But as humans, to be successful in life, you need to plan your days and have an ongoing system to get things done.

But we tend to procrastinate on some important tasks no matter how hard we try. The reason may be deep without us realizing it. 

Laziness isn’t the only reason we procrastinate. It could be the underlying fear of failure.

Read on to find out how to beat your fear to overcome procrastination.

Why fear makes you procrastinate? 

Fear of failure haunts you when you have one or more of the following fears.

We fear failure when we doubt our abilities. Self-doubt and lack of self confidence lead to inaction. Even when we think it’s something we should do, we are unable to take action. We procrastinate.

As a result, many people go to their graves with their dreams buried in them.

Don’t die with your music still inside you. Listen to your intuitive inner voice and find what passion stirs your soul.

-Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

 How to overcome fear from killing your potential?

Take a sheet of paper and write down the most important task or dream that you tend to procrastinate. And come up with 5-10 reasons why you think you can’t do it (these are your fears).

Now for each reason, think about what can be done to solve each one. Here you get an idea on what’s causing you to procrastinate and you are identifying the solution to each problem.

You can brainstorm more and get more ideas on how you can solve each one. Google is your friend here. You can find tons of articles on solving literally whatever problem you have.

It might be learning new things about your subject, acquiring new skills, or having to figure out about setting aside more time for it.

Writing by hand is important as it gives you more clarity to your thoughts.

Here is a list of some of the fears you might be having.

1. Fear of losing time and effort if you fail

Everyone can have this fear when starting anything new.

What if all my effort goes under the drain? I will lose everything I spent on it. I could spend it on something else.

Such thoughts cause you to procrastinate and paralyze you from taking action. But how do you know what will work for you? Unless you don’t try something, you never know.

It can work or not. If it works, hurray!

But if it doesn’t, I would say it’s still better than not trying and wondering what would happen if I had tried. If you fail,you now know what works for you and what doesn’t. You might learn something in the process that you can use in future.

Napoleon Hill, in his bestselling book, Think and Grow Rich, says

how to overcome procrastination-Napoleon Hill quote

If you don’t try new things, you never grow. Think about being in the same place exactly a year from now.

You don’t want that, do you?

Jack Ma, the founder of Ali Baba failed many times before becoming a billionaire. He is a master of perseverance. You can be too.

2. Fear of being ridiculed

You are afraid you will make fun of yourself and you worry about what others will think. Especially if you fail, you think you won’t be able to face others.

 Truth be told, nobody gives a damn about what you do in life. Except for a handful of people. And they will always count on you no matter what happens.

Leave the rest of the people whom you worry about. Everyone is worried about their lives and what they should do. Even our loved ones think mostly about themselves in a day.

Don’t you think it’s true?

What do you think about mostly in a day?

We are worried about our work, family or health. And we worry about how we come across to other people. Even if people say something about you it is their opinion, it need not be the truth.

No matter whatever you do in life there will always be people who don’t think highly of it. Everyone may not like you or your work. And you know what?

It’s okay.

They don’t need to and you don’t need everyone’s acceptance to succeed in life.

I used to worry about what people think of me all the time. The biggest breakthrough came to me when I  learned that they don’t think about me all the time. What a relief!

So forget about people. Be your own boss.

3. Fear of not being good enough/smart enough

Self-doubt can be crippling.

It prevents you from taking action, even when your heart screams you want it.

First of all, know that you are not alone in this. Everyone feels they are not good enough/smart enough at one point or the other, especially when starting something new.

Solution:

1. Acknowledge it

Let that thought come and go. Acknowledge that you have it.

The key is in not letting it overpower you.

Remember everyone has it and it needn’t be the truth.

2. Analyze the thought

Think about why you have it.

It may be because you are looking at people who have had massive success in their field and comparing yourself with them.

But it is absurd.

Because you are not seeing how they reached there. They started like you, at the lowest rung of the ladder.

Everyone has to start somewhere. You polish your skills and acquire more knowledge as you go. You can never start being an expert.

3. Come up with ideas on how to solve it

Look up to your leaders with a curious mind. Learn how they made it to the top. Find out how you can do the same. At the same time don’t be intimidated by their success.

It’s when you think about only the end result, you get the fear.

Here is a task for you.

Break down your goal into simple steps.

For example, if you want to become a singer, instead of doubting your ability, think about what you can do now to pursue this goal.

As the first step,  you can join a music school and start learning and practicing.

You can surely do that.

But if you look at Beyoncé or Lady Gaga you will feel overwhelmed thinking you can’t be them. Remember, they started like you.

4. Fear of not having enough skills

Make a list of all the skills you need in your desired field. Read books or blogs on how to improve those skills.

In this age of instant connectivity, it should never be a problem. You have numerous courses available on any skill you want to achieve. Sign up for a course online or offline.

You can gradually build those skills. It doesn’t matter if all the skills cannot be attained together. You can learn new skills in a step by step manner.

Conclusion

Conquering your fears one by one is essential to stop procrastinating. Hope this article has helped to understand your fears and inspire you to take action.

What is it that you struggle with and makes you procrastinate? Please comment below.

I’d love to know!

More reading:

You have this idea and fire in your belly.how to get motivated when starting new habits

You are sure you are going to do it and get all the necessary items.

First week goes well, second week is okay even though sometimes you doubt if it’s gonna work.

Suddenly you don’t seem to have the interest you started with. You are guilty of spending money on all those stuff.

Even though you occasionally do it, you tend to lose motivation and have lost interest.

It lies there in your to-do list or I-will-start-again-someday list.

Why does this happen?

We all want to be successful, stay fit, and have healthy habits.

But even if we take an initiative and start working on it, we sometimes lose interest. We don’t have the fire we started with.

But when you look at other people doing it consistently, you don’t think they go through this.

Let me tell you the truth.

Everyone has those days when they just don’t feel like doing it, even the most successful people.

Here, I am going to help you to take action even when you are unmotivated.

Ready to start?

How to keep yourself motivated?

Staying motivated often doesn’t need to be a power of our mind.

It’s not.

The reason you are not feeling motivated might be because you don’t have a pre-planned routine. To have a productive day and get your work done, you should have some routines or cues that trigger the desired habit.

Identify what area in your life is you are struggling to have motivation in.

It might be starting a new fitness habit, a reading habit, practising your sports/cooking skills, or anything under the sun you wanna achieve.

Even the most committed person can face this trouble from time to time. It’s human.

But one thing differentiates them from the rest of the people.

It is, they have learned how to deal with it and stick with their routine.

The problem you face is, you know what you should be doing. But you find it difficult to execute.

Difficult. Exactly. The solution I suggest is make it simple.

You see, it’s easier to start a habit than sticking to it.

Sticking to it needs your putting effort into it.

Staying disciplined.

I am gonna tell you exactly how to do it.

how to stay motivated when starting new habits

How to stick to your habits after starting them?

First of all, you should have the passion towards it.

I know it’s a no-brainer.

Whatever your goal is, if you really don’t want it and you are doing it just because someone else is doing it and really successful in it, the chances are you won’t be much motivated to stick with it.

You should fall in love with the idea of doing it.

But you might say you are not in love with the idea of working out. But you love that super fit healthy body, right?

You might sometimes feel lazy to practice your skills, even if it’s something you are passionate about. But you want to be the best in your field, right?

I hated every minute of training, but I said, don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.”

-Muhammed Ali

Always keep the end result in your mind.

Visualize yourself having succeeded. It helps to get motivated.”

Associate cues to your desired routine.

Derek Doepker, in his book, The Healthy Habit Revolution suggests to have cues to remind you of your new habit.

For example, if you want to practice your writing skills put your pen and book somewhere it’s easy to see daily (cue). It will remind you to perform the habit.

If you want to start working out, put your running shoes near your bed before sleeping. Or, put your workout clothes where you can see in the morning as soon as you wake up (existing habit).

The key is associating cues to your existing habits.

Once you have the cues placed, start small.

In the beginning, your focus is on establishing the routine and not about getting much value.

To create a workout habit, commit to doing 5 minutes of workout a day. Or just do a warm up.

You can’t really find excuses to not do 5 minutes of an exercise a day. You can do it even while watching TV.

But you might ask who is going to benefit from a 5 minute exercise. Our aim is not to benefit from it in the beginning, but form a new habit.

These are called micro-habits or mini habits.

A mini habit is, the tiniest version of your big habits.

That is, take a big habit, make it incredibly small so that you can’t say no to doing it.

For example, if you want to start a reading habit, commit to reading a paragraph a day.

Or if you want to clean the clutter in your room, commit to put away one or two things in its place daily. Who knows, you might get in a cleaning frenzy and the whole room is shiny and bright as new.

Even if you don’t do that, don’t worry, our goal is to build a habit of cleaning the room daily.

According to a research conducted by Phillippa Lally and her colleagues, it takes an average of 66 days to form a new habit, when you do it consecutively. It was published in the European Journal of Social Psychology in 2009.

But don’t worry if you miss a day or two. It can stress you out and you might think you are a failure and not try again. What you must do is get back on track as soon as possible.

Because I know when you wanna do something consecutively for two months, life can interfere and you simply might not be able to do it.

This is where practising mini habits can help you.

It’s easy to do and doesn’t take much time. But you have the sense of accomplishment that you did it.

Most of the time you would be doing it more than the intended time because you have created momentum by starting it.

And motivation follows momentum.

If you are like me, and if it’s something you really have been nurturing in your mind, you don’t wanna stop soon.

Creating a routine is more important in the beginning. Once it’s a habit, you won’t feel the need to get motivated daily.

Habits are automatic behaviors that you do on a consistent basis, once the cue/trigger goes off.

I mean you don’t need motivation to brush your teeth right?

(Or do you? I hope not!)

That’s the power of habit.

Takeaway

When struggling with motivation, remember mini habits. I bet you can’t say no to it.

I love this quote by Octavia E. Butler.

First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”

It shows what role habits play in our life. There are days on which we don’t feel like taking action. But if we are successful in forming healthy habits, they can keep us going, even when we are unmotivated.

Think about it. We are creatures of habits. What do we do as soon as we get up?

Many people now reach for their phone. Or we would be going to the bathroom.

How does that instinct come to us?

Because our brain recognizes it as something we do every time a cue/trigger happens.

Knowing how habits are formed is important to form new habits and change old ones.

how are habits formed in the brain

What are habits?

Habits are automatic behaviors that have been wired into our brains through repetition and as days pass, we do it less consciously.

Neuroscientists have found that there is a part of our brain called basal ganglia which is crucial for habit forming. Once a neural pathway for a habit is established in our brain, it never goes away. This is good for us since the thinking part of brain can concentrate on other important activities.

But the downside is that our brain doesn’t recognize good habits from bad.

How are habits formed?

In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains about the cycle that happens when we actually perform a habit.

  • Cue

Cue is a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use.

  • Routine

It is what you do once you get the cue. It can be physical or mental or emotional.

  • Reward

Reward helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future.

For example, take the habit of checking smartphones.

You are working, in your office or kitchen. Or you are talking to someone. Your phone buzzes (cue). You reach for your phone automatically even though you know it’s a junk mail or yet another useless forward message (routine). You read it (reward). You get rewarded by the momentary distraction (craving).

How many times has that happened to you?

If your brain likes the reward, it will crave for it again when the cue appears again.

Take the case of craving for junk food.

You are driving on a highway and you are hungry. You see a McDonald’s (cue). You pull of your car and orders a burger. You eat it (routine). You get rewarded. You ate a burger even though you knew there are healthier options available in other places.

Our cravings initiate habit loop.

This behavior is run by our cravings. Our brain remembers the outcome of each habit. It remembers the feedback. If it is positive, it acts automatically when the cue comes again. Thus, the loop gets formed and the neural pathway for the habit gets wired onto our brain.

In the above case, you have eaten a McDonald’s burger before and you know the taste. Your brain remembers it and crave for it again when the cue comes again.

Cues can be anything; it can be visual (when we see something), people (when we’re with certain people we get the urge to do certain things like smoking or drinking), our thoughts etc.

The good news is that you can change any habit if you identify what you crave for.

Understanding the habit loop and replacing the routine with something better of your choice, which gives  the same reward, is the key to changing habits.