How can you change your life by changing your habits? Simple. Habits sneak into our lives because they make our lives easier, not necessarily better. It’s time to choose the ones that make your life better.

When a behaviour becomes a habit, it saves your brain time and energy. Once it recognises a familiar trigger, it starts the pre-programmed behaviour. Job done! We don’t think about it, we just do it.

The habits can be as innocuous as always having a cookie with your coffee to the more nefarious variety of self-sabotaging vitriol that kicks in when we think we’ve done something wrong, again.

Habits can change your life. Eating a cookie with every cup of coffee is going to change your life by adding unwanted inches to your waistline. Negative self-talk will change your life by stealing your hope. Bad financial habits can undermine your wealth and well-being.

Make this your best year yet by introducing these six simple habits.

What are the habits that can change your life?

Get more done every day by using these three habits of uncommonly focused people.

Get more done every day by using these three habits of uncommonly focused people.

1. Take a trip beyond your comfort zone

Change is hard, scary and most of us try to avoid it at all costs. We like to stay inside our comfort zone. That’s not surprising, it’s called a comfort zone for a reason; it’s comfortable. But if you want to grow, you need to step beyond your comfort zone and embrace the unknown.

I mentioned in a recent post that life begins at the edge of your comfort zone. In order to grow, learn and achieve your goals you need to create a habit of always pushing yourself past that which feels comfortable.

The real risk is letting life pass you by while you’re in a comfortable state of complacency. Take the risk. It can change your life and the more you do it the easier it becomes until it too, becomes a habit.

2. Celebrate your wins

Make it a habit to celebrate your wins. High fives might seem cliche but there’s magic in the movement. If you don’t believe me, check out one of the most popular TED talks of all time by Amy Cuddy. Make a habit of saying the right thing to yourself and others with your body language. Small tweaks can bring about big changes. And, have a little fun, too. Life’s too short for anything less.

If you can, encourage celebrating wins in your workplace, too. A change in office culture, to one of support and congratulations, will have an uplifting effect on the energy and mood of any workplace. Mood is contagious so make sure the right one is catching. You won’t just be changing your life, you’ll be changing the lives of those around you.

3. Have an idea jar or notebook or file

Become an idea machine. The more you work on exercising your creative thinking and generating ideas, the easier it becomes. You might never do anything with these ideas but, you’ll be so used to thinking in terms of “what else can I do?”, that when life does throw you a curve ball, you’re immediately thinking of ideas for solving your problem, not wallowing in self-pity.

Plus, when you’re an idea machine, life is never boring or routine. You’re always coming up with ideas for new businesses to start, books to write, products to design… You get the idea.

Find a way to collect your ideas in one place. It can be a jar (make it a big one) or a notebook or if you’re creature of the digital age, a computer file. James Altucher recommends you aim to list 10 ideas each and every day. They can be practical or outlandish. It doesn’t matter because it’s not just about the ideas themselves but creating the habit of thinking of ideas. Once you create that habit, it will change your life.

The next time you need inspiration you have a treasure trove of ideas from which to choose.

How can you change your life by changing your habits? Simple. Habits sneak into our lives because they make our lives easier, not necessarily better. It’s time to choose the ones that make your life better.

4. Always apply the 10-year rule

Make any mistakes recently? If you did, you’re not alone. We all do it. Some of us (yes, me) learn better from our mistakes than by following the accepted path. The big question though is this, does it make you worried or fearful for what might happen next?

If you do, ask yourself this: “Will this mistake still be a problem in 10 years?” Generally, the answer will be no. There are very few mistakes you can make that will still haunt you in 10 years.

Make it a habit to ask that question every time you feel you’ve made a mistake and can feel that gnawing in your belly. Most of the time, you’ll be able to reassure yourself that life will go on pretty much the same as usual. When you don’t sweat the small stuff, you’ll free up enormous amounts of time and energy to spend on the big, important stuff.

5. Seek first to understand and then to be understood

Once upon a very long time ago, I began my career in IT answering calls on software support help desk. I learned a lot about human behaviour while helping people solve their computer problems over the phone. One of the first things I learned was that people will often take out their (non-computer related) frustrations on the anonymous person on the other end of the phone. Initially, I’d react to this, but after a while, I discovered that if I just let them vent their frustrations without trying to solve anything, we were eventually able to solve their computer related problems and sometimes whatever was causing their frustration, too. Plus, by the end of the call, they were grateful for the sympathetic ear at the other end of the phone.

All too often, we react without understanding the full story.

I probably could have saved myself a lot of angst by reading Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People first; “Seek first to understand and then to be understood” is Habit #5.

6. Be grateful for something each and every morning

Yes, practicing gratitude has received a lot of exposure lately.

Yes, it might seem a bit too spiritual for some people.

And, yes, it really is a very powerful tool for changing your mindset and therefore changing your life.

The practical reality of actively being grateful is that it’s hard to feel sorry for yourself while you’re counting the blessings in your life. It doesn’t matter what those blessings are: the wonderful people in your life, the things that make your life more enjoyable or comfortable (no matter how simple), your job, the great view out your bedroom window.

The less practical aspect of practicing gratitude and how it can change your life is that you begin to focus on the positive and what you think about you create more of.

Too often our thoughts are jam-packed with the stuff we want but don’t have or all the stuff we have to do but don’t really want to do. The stress. The distraction. The craziness of life in a 24/7, information and temptation filled world.

Taking the time to appreciate all that you have, right now, can change your life in ways you’d never imagine.

You’ll be happier with your life, exactly as it is. Feelings of inadequacy will diminish. You’ll stop comparing your life, possessions, career with others and start appreciating your own accomplishments rather than being jealous of others.

The simple truth is that gratitude leads to happiness.

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Six simple habits to change your life this year

  1. Take a trip beyond your comfort zone
  2. Celebrate your wins
  3. Keep an idea jar
  4. Always apply the 10-year rule
  5. Seek to understand first
  6. Be grateful for something each and every morning

We all know that it’s important to have healthy habits like eating well and getting regular exercise, but how many of us can say we employ these six simple habits every single day?

I know I haven’t been. At least not to the point where they’ve become ‘habit’ but this is one of my intentions for the next 12 months; practice these new behaviours until they become automatic habits.

How do you think your life would change if you tried incorporating these habits into your day?

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