In this post, we are going to be talking about habits. The reason I want to talk about this topic is because I personally underwent a major habit change, and I want to share that with you today.
We all have similar goals. You and I have similar goals. We want to be healthy. We want to be financially secure. We want to have a successful network. We want to be seen as a success in our circle of friends. We want to be seen as healthy, but how come for so many of us, that is not the case?
The secret to that is we all have differing habits. And how you get to your goal depends on them.
One good way to illustrate that is by imagining an airplane taking off from one airport, and heading to another airport, from point A to point B. If the trajectory is just one degree off, it will end up in a whole different city — or maybe even a whole different country — rather than ending up in its destination.
A one-degree difference can mean a whole new destination. And habits, in a nutshell, are what determine the trajectory we are on.
James Clear says in his book, ‘Atomic Habits,’ that “we don’t rise to the level of our goals. We actually fall to the level of our systems.”
That is how important systems are for you and me, and our systems are our habits.
So, I want to tell you a story about my bad habits.
I’m a guy who sleeps late. Now, I’m not saying for those of you night owls that that is wrong or a bad thing, but for me, I know it was not healthy. So, I knew that this was not the right habit to be having.
I’ve always had the goal of waking up early, doing things early, and being ahead of everyone else in my business. But, I had a lot of bad habits that prevented me from doing so.
Namely, I am someone who is a workaholic, so that was not helping me at all. I work long hours, and I’m addicted to finishing tasks and work, just going on and on and on — this is not good.
You should only prioritize what pieces of work you should finish per day. You don’t need to do it all, every darn day — but this was a bad habit of mine.
On top of that, I would have the bad habit of eating late. So I would eat at 8PM, 9PM. On rare occasions, I would even eat at 10 PM. That gave me unnatural energy, which led to me missing being sleepy at the right time, or at the time that I wanted to sleep.
To make things worse, my entertainment or winding down, or leisure time, was after working hours. And, because I was a workaholic, my after-work hours would sometimes be at 8PM or 9PM, and I would wind down then.
My winding down was playing computer games with my siblings or with some friends. And, because I usually play community games, it meant that there were a lot of people involved. I would also get into the bad habit of getting into another game if they wanted to play more.
This would just snowball into me sleeping at 12PM, or 1AM and 2AM, and sometimes (on very rare occasions) I would sleep at 3AM. That’s super unhealthy, and I would beat myself up for that the next day.
This habit would make me miss having extended hours with my wife, just talking with her, and building a better marriage with her. And, I would also miss the time spent with my sons and my newborn baby girl, as well.
Those bad habits compounded an unhealthy lifestyle. Plus the fact that I miss exercise on some days, the fact that I’m not really a vegan or vegetarian nor do I choose my food that well (compared to a lot of other people), this has all contributed to my health degrading in the last quarter of last year — and I really felt that.
I felt that there was something wrong with my body, with my health. So some time ago, I tried to turn things around. That was the time that I finally said “enough is enough, I’m going to change my habits today.”
So now that I’ve given you an introduction to my bad habits, what I want to do now is dive a little bit into some of the good habits that I’ve built.
If you want to get rid of bad habits, you have to replace them with something else. It can’t be hollow, so I replaced them with what I considered to be good habits.
Always remember, life is a series of trades, and you’ve got to make the right ones so that you can be able to achieve your desired future or your goals.
And so I made this trade. What happened was I have more time now with my kids and my wife, which is very precious to me. At the same time, I was able to stick way better to my sleep routine.
The first thing that I did was make sure that I was asleep by a certain time. And for me to be able to do that, I had to eliminate my overtime working hours. So I would make sure that I would stop working by 6PM, 6:30PM at the latest. I made sure that I had everything wrapped up by 6:30PM.
I would not do any more wind-down activities, either, so I avoided playing computer games. I was able to eliminate that. True, I haven’t been able to play or bond with my siblings or my friends like I used to, but I found out that the trade-off was much better.
By a certain time at night, I make sure I am not exposed to any more blue light. In my room, I installed yellow, ambient lighting — which is great for giving you that nocturnal feel. As a result, my brain is no longer being signaled that I should stay awake at night.
Another thing that I do is make sure to diffuse essential oils. Believe it or not, it works for me. The essential oil that I specifically use every night is lavender. You may want to mix something else with that, but that’s the stuff that helps me get to sleep.
Another thing that I make sure to do is to make sure that my ambient sounds are turned on. You could use whatever you want. I think Spotify has theta ambient music 6 Hz — you may want to try that out (that’s what you can use to relax). You can play it on repeat, all the way until you wake up.
The last thing I make sure of is: no cellphone. I think that they’re practically the main culprit in insomnia, depression, and anxiety that we are all feeling today. Mix that up with caffeine and overconsumption of coffee, you got a depressed and anxious generation. I think that’s what’s happening with the world today.
So if you want to be less anxious, less stressed, less depressed, and you want to have better quality sleep, you’ve got to lessen your caffeine intake for sure, and you also have to create a good sleeping routine. You have to make sure that you put the phone down by 8:00 PM, and by 8:30PM — put it on airplane mode or do not disturb mode. That works for me.
So that’s my sleep routine now. And 100%, that works.
Now that we’re done discussing my night or wind-down routine, I just want to dive a little bit into my morning routine or my waking routine, because this one dictates the tempo of my entire day.
Your waking-up habits will dictate how productive and focused your day will be.
The first thing that I do when I wake up, I pray. I thank God I’m alive. I thank God for the day, and I ask for His blessing.
The second thing that I do is prepare to go for a thirty-minute walk. You can do a ten-minute walk minimum, or you can do the whole 30 minutes. It doesn’t matter so long as you’re seeing and hearing the wind, and you’re seeing forward momentum.
When you walk, your peripheral vision notes that you’re moving forward — things are passing you by. This sets your mind in a positive, forward momentum, which better equips you to tackle the day ahead of you.
After my 30-minute walk, I go for a bath and/or exercise. I burn calories, which also helps me get more clarity in my head. After that, I usually meditate. I put on my noise-canceling headset, play 40 Hz gamma waves, and listen to them while picturing what my desired future is like, and what I want to achieve.
During this time, you can also envision what you want to happen to your business or team, or maybe even what you want to impart to your executives, your managers, and your leaders.
That helps you think about your business so that when you start working, you work on your business rather than in your business.
Notice that, though I’m a coffee drinker, I haven’t mentioned anything about it yet. This is because I don’t drink it first thing in the morning. In my opinion, the perfect time to do so is before lunchtime.
When I do my morning walk and exercise, my body is pumped up. endorphins are being pumped by my brain, and I am able to focus well. I am alert, I am not sleepy. So what use is drinking coffee during that time?
But come 11AM, all the way to 12 noon or 1PM, that’s the time that my brain is slowing down. This is when I actually drink my coffee. So it’s not a morning coffee, it’s more of an afternoon coffee. I also switched to drinking cold brew so that I don’t get hungry, and my body doesn’t get too acidic.
The last thing that I do in my mornings is to make sure the first two hours are dedicated to creating. I don’t react — which is when you check your messages, emails, Viber chats. Rather, this is the time I use to write.
This is because whatever it is that you’re checking and reacting to, that’s going to set the tempo for the rest of your day, and the creative process is smashed. There is almost no way that you can create as well as you could in the first few hours of your work. That’s why I protect the first two hours of my work for creating.
Now, I’m not saying this is all the perfect routine for you — it really depends. What I’ve shared here is merely what has helped me become more productive, and more focused on my day. As an entrepreneur, and as a leader, that is a very big deal.
Remember, you don’t need to copy what it is I’m doing. You can do your own thing and find what works for you. But, I hope that this helps you get some ideas on what you can adopt, or can improve in your own routine.