Categories
Self-Improvement

Want your future self to thank you? Nurture these 8 powerful habits

Habits - they make us and they break us!

Good habits can be the very thing driving us on to our goals.

Bad habits can be the Achilles heal sabotaging our best intentions on a daily basis.

Habit is the action that happens automatically when we encounter a particular stimuli. The key word here is automatic.

When a habit is ingrained in your brain it will override intention and make it difficult to deliberately choose a different action.

Warren Buffett 

Most behavior is habitual, and they say that the chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.

Habits become harder and harder to change as time passes because they don’t rely on memory or willpower.

If you want to have habits that last you through a lifetime, 20s is the time to start laying the foundation.

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How to change a habit?

To change a habit you need to break the ‘habit loop’ of cue, routine and reward.

Powerful habits

The quickest and most hassle-free way to build a new habit into your life is to stack it up on top of a current habit.

Habit stacking takes advantage of the already existing neural pathways instead of building a reward loop from scratch.

In our course of work, our performance is often influenced by the external factors over which we cannot exert control. To maximise the possibility of success, you need to concentrate on the one thing that you can control - your habits and your actions.

Here are 8 habits which will give you a serious shot at becoming the best version of yourself in the future.

1. Wake up early, but don’t start working yet!

Starting your day early is one habit that has all round positive impact on your health, productivity, efficiency and success. Biologist Christopher Randler has found that, early risers are more proactive, better planners and better poised for business success.

Early risers are happier and healthier than the night owls.

Powerful habits

General Motors CEO Mary Barra and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz are in the office by 6 am.

Apple CEO Tim Cook wakes up at 4.30 am to hit the gym.

Vogue editor Anna Wintour wakes up at 5.45 am to play tennis.

​If you get up at 5 am to check your emails, you are defeating the purpose.

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When you examine the morning routine of the successful, you will find they don’t spend their mornings on work.

They spend their mornings on themselves - exercising the body, recharging the mind with meditation or indulging in a hobby that ignites their creativity.

Does this mean you should start cutting back on your sleep?

Most emphatically not.Getting restorative sleep (ideally 6.5 to 7.5 hours) is an essential function of waking up early.

Robin Sharma

Mind over Mattress

The key is to spread your work throughout the day to avoid working late nights to finish tasks. Another strategy is to plan your morning beforehand. When you have a to-do list, it is easier for you to move out of bed and start the day.

I know, many of us feel that successful people can ‘afford to’ wake up early.

In reality many of us with commitments similar to our own are doing it with great results.Why not have a look at the routines of early risers from all over the world and compare notes?

2. Learn the art of ‘conscious media consumption’

Media, either online or offline is a huge part of our lives. We are dependent on it for news, entertainment, emotional connections and even our livelihood.

Social Media and Internet have revolutionised how people live, work and earn money. But our virtual realities have taken over our lives to the point of distraction from our real lives.

Are we consuming media or is the media consuming us?

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Individuals aged 18 to 36 spend an average of 17.8 hours a day with different types of media. User-generated content (social media posts, photos, blogs, email, texting and talking to others about media) occupies about 5.4 hours of the average Millennial's day.

Powerful habits

Our attachment to the media has reached the levels of addiction and concepts like “social media fast’ are gaining momentum.

Webroot research into 'social media consumption' found that, 75% of Millennials feel addicted to social media. And 54% of Millennials access their social network of choice constantly from their smartphone or tablet.

55% of those surveyed would actually stay away from social media entirely “if they could start fresh”.

Is the habit of excessive media consumption and constant connectivity worth carrying forward to your 40s,50s and 60s?

We all know, this is not an ideal lifestyle to follow if we want to achieve anything at all.

Even technology driven entrepreneur Steve Jobs had understood the dangers of overexposure and was a low-tech parent.

But quitting social media is not a realistic option.

Instead consciously pick and choose the type and amount of media you want to consume.

Germany Kent

I can’t control who follows me, but I can control who I follow.

Use technology like Quality time and Break free to know and manage the time you are spending online.

Planning your day ahead and prioritising the tasks will also help you sharpen your focus and minimise the time wasted.

Social media is a great servant but a destructive master.

You should be the one driving it, rather than it dictating your time and attention.

3. Pay attention to your finances

How well do you know your money?

No, nothing fancy like stock markets and derivatives. I am asking about your savings, your federal student debt, your taxes, and 401(k).

If you felt like I just spoke pig latin to you, you are not alone.

Powerful habits

Millennials are considered to be the worst among all generations when it comes to financial literacy.

The PWC and George Washington University survey on Millennials and Financial Literacy revealed that only 24% of Millennials demonstrated basic financial knowledge. Nearly 30% are overdrawing on their checking accounts.

American Institute of CPA’S discovered that, more than a quarter of millennials surveyed had missed a bill or had been contacted by a creditor due to late payments.

Millennials, as an age group, have the lowest credit scores as well.

Warren Buffett 

Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1

"Are we saying debt is a bad thing?

Not necessarily.As long as you use it wisely it should actually help you to optimise your financial resources.

But if you take your eye off the ball, it can deliver a blow to your best laid plans.

When you don't manage your finances, you will be forced to make choices out of desperation rather than passion.

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Stripped to its basics financial management is not rocket science.

Here are 4 basics of money management for the uninitiated -

  1. Save - a percentage of your income rather than a fixed amount, so that, when you earn more automatically your savings will rise.
  2. Value vs price - Always compare the price you are paying to the value you are getting when you are paying with credit cards.
  3. Keep Cash in Hand - Warren Buffett recommends, ‘don’t leave home without it’.
  4. Learn about money - Undue risk is the direct outcome of lack of knowledge.Start your financial literacy early and build it like compound interest.

4. Surround yourself with the right people

The people whom you share your goals with - mentors, colleagues, family or friends, are a vital part of your journey.

Consider the productivity impact study by Taskworld in which 50% of respondents reported that, their coworkers' performance affects their individual performance.

Jim Rohn 

we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.

Many of us always strive to be the smartest person in the room. Our insecurities often drive us to work only with people who don't challenge our ability or skill.

Powerful habits

Is your desire to be right all the time interfering with your growth?

When you are always working with ‘yes men’, it creates a limiting environment.

In no time you will be dragged down to the level of the lowest common denominator in your team.

Your potential for growth is directly proportional to the quality of your competition.

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Don't surround yourself with people who are just like you. Aim to work with people who have different sets of skills and attitudes because diversity promotes creativity and innovation.

When you are working with people who are better than you, you will be motivated to elevate your performance to match them or exceed them.

A true leader is not the ‘best’ or the smartest person in the team.

Mary Barra

 Good ideas don't have a hierarchy.

Distinguished leaders, like Steve Jobs and James Dyson, encouraged their teams to consistently question the way they did things.

President Lincoln famously appointed his chief rivals to his cabinet.

Successful people have the vision to see how everyone’s skills fit into the larger picture and accommodate them accordingly.

Have the courage to look beyond your ego and seek to work with people who keep you on your toes.

5. Read a lot, there is no substitute for it

Can you guess the one habit that is common among high achievers in all fields?

Almost all of them are voracious readers.

Warren Buffett devotes about 80% of each day to reading. Bill Gates reads 50 books per year i.e. 1 book per week. Mark Cuban reads for 3 hours everyday. Among wealthy people, 88 percent read 30 minutes or more every day.

Reading can help you improve not only IQ but also your EQ.

Powerful habits

The American Academy of Neurology Study has revealed that people who read consistently exhibit better memory and mental abilities.

Reading reduces stress, depression and the risk of dementia.

Reading gives you a richer and broader perspective into your own life.

One lifetime is too short to go through all of life’s experiences. Books offer a window into an unknown world so that you can understand and empathise with the struggles of others.

When it comes to reading, quality trumps quantity.

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When you are developing the habit of reading, make sure that you don't squander your time on flaky tabloids.

Oscar Wilde 

It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.

Successful people value education over entertainment while choosing books.

They are particularly partial to biographies for inspiration and guidance.

According to author Tom Corley, rich people read for self-improvement and education. Whereas poor people read for entertainment.

No matter what your area of interest is, there is a book for you. Thanks to the advances in technology, access and portability of books has increased exponentially.

Why not start off with these 20 books on the reading list of every leader?

6. Self-discipline goes a long way

Self-discipline is a much maligned concept, associated with rigidity, restriction and a limited lifestyle.

H.A. Dorfman 

Self-discipline is a form of freedom. Freedom from laziness and lethargy, freedom from the expectations and demands of others, freedom from weakness and fear – and doubt. 

In reality, self-discipline means learning to focus your resources on your goals and persevering until they are realised.

It means choosing a high value task over the one that offers momentary gratification.

A University of Chicago study into 'self control and life satisfaction' has found correlations between self-control and happiness, even financial security.

Self-discipline has been found to be a greater predictor of academic performance than IQ.

The journey of success demands everyday commitments. Self-discipline helps you stick with that future success day in and day out.

Self-discipline is the congruence of intention and action.

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The journey of self-discipline begins with awareness - of your time and priorities.

Then taking deliberate decisions that steer you towards worthiest of actions.

The final crucial step is to follow-through and monitor yourself.

Powerful Habits

Self-discipline ensures that you reach your goals in the reasonable time frame with the optimised use of your resources. It is a crucial habit if you want to achieve anything at all amidst conflicting goals demanding your attention.

Self-discipline is not a limited resource, like a muscle it grows stronger with use.

Start exercising it today!

7. Make time for your family

A balanced life is a successful life.

Your goals, attentions and efforts should be balanced across all areas of your life.

The time you spend with your family helps you develop deeper and meaningful connections. This will ultimately keep you happier and healthier.

Powerful habits

If you become a workhorse blind to emotional and social ties, you will live to regret it.

From Barack Obama to Usher, they all wish they could spend more time with the family.

Bronnie Ware says that when it comes to regrets, not taking time out for family comes only second to not being true to ourselves.

IMaking time for your family means, prioritising and scheduling the time spent with your family.

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Many of us confuse balancing work and family life with spending equal amounts of time on both. This is unrealistic and sets you up for failure even before you begin. Instead, switching off from work for a couple of hours when you come home can be the practical option in the long run.

So, where to find the time to spend with family in the middle of a 47-hour workweek ?

The thing is, you don’t need more time, you just need better time management.

We spend 41% of our time on activities that offer little personal satisfaction and can be delegated to others. So, many a times it is about cutting out the low value tasks to clear out your schedule.

Focus your time and energy at work on high value tasks that have a concrete influence on the outcomes. Take advantage of this free time to switch off from work and take part in the lives of your family.

8. Move on, set bigger goals

Success is much more complex than failure.

This is why we see few athletes who have the temperament to rule the roost for decades.

This is the reason we see one hit wonders who fizzle off.

Success is much harder to handle than failure.We even fear success so much that we self-sabotage.

Sigmund Freud observed that, ego will defend itself hotly against a wish as soon as it approaches fulfillment and threatens to become a reality.

Jerry Rice 

The Enemy of the best is the good. If you're always settling with what's good, you'll never be the best.

How often have you become content with small successes along the way and lost sight of the bigger potential awaiting you?

Powerful habits

High achievers know that success is an ongoing journey and every achievement is a pit stop. It should expand your skills and vision, not make you complacent.

This continuous drive for excellence is what determines the limits of your achievements. This drive is the reason why technopreneurs like Zuckerberg are still innovating with their products. This is why Richard Branson went from Virgin Records to Virgin Galactic.

Success is a moving goalpost, that’s why Magic Johnson moved on to production after retiring from basketball.

Resting on past laurels stagnates your growth. Seeking higher goals stimulates your progress.

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Use your success as the springboard that propels you forward. Use this success as the cushion that helps you navigate the future risks.

Build on the skills, experience and contacts you already have to reach higher and achieve more.

Conclusion

Transformation is not a future event, it is happening right now.

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The things you do today will chip away over time to reveal the future you.

So, pay close attention to the habits you are cultivating in your 20s. They can determine the level of success and happiness you will have in your 40s.

Distractions and setbacks will veer you off course on your journey. A good habit can help you pick yourself up and continue.

Good habits are difficult to start. Bad habits are difficult to stop.

Picking up the right habits is as important as avoiding the wrong ones.

What is the one habit you want to change today?

Categories
Self-Improvement

How to stay at the peak of your health with an on-the-go lifestyle?

Fitness can be such a pain in the ass even on a regular day, can you imagine making it a priority during travel?

Like all good things in life, such a choice is hard but necessary.

Francois Rabelais 

Without health, life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering. 

Have you made the mistake of seeing traveling as a down time from healthy choices?

Fitness is a 24 hour choice. Travel will definitely vary the intensity and degree of these choices. But, you need to be mindful of them all the same.

Healthy choices do not have a day off.

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Whether you are traveling for work or pleasure, being on the healthy track helps you stay at the top of your game.

Unless you are an Olympian dedicated to your sport, keeping fitness habits can be a low priority task while traveling.

Lack of time, tiredness, work, stress, no space, no options - travel throws several monkey wrenches into your fitness plans.

We have come up with these 5 strategies to navigate the challenges of healthy living on the go.

1. Plan ahead and set systems in place to support your fitness goals

Well begun is half done.

Your fitness journey begins even before you set foot outside your home.

Fitness on the go

Just having a simple to-do list increases the chances of your success. Imagine what you can achieve with a solid plan?

Plan to incorporate food choices and exercise options, healthy snacks, and fitness essentials into your mental and physical luggage.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

Set goals.

Don’t stop at just planning, set fitness goals that can be measured to empower your journey.

For example, specific goals like walking 20 minutes everyday are much more inspiring than just noting down ‘get some exercise’.

Here are the 4 factors you need to plan for to successfully accomplish your health and fitness goals -

  1. Fitness - Research for activities that allow physical movement both indoors and outdoors. Pack simple equipment like dumbbells or yoga mats. Don't forget comfortable workout wear, swimsuit and shoes.
  2. Food - Research restaurants and organic food outlets near your hotel. Plan your meals ahead to manage your cravings on the go. Organise non-perishable snacks beforehand. Remember to carry healthy alternatives for airplane food.
  3. Hydration - ALWAYS carry a water bottle with you and chug it often. Make sure to drink purified and preferably bottled water when you are out and about. Google for smoothie and juice bars near your hotel.
  4. Attitude - Traveling is often chaotic, your plans will be modified and your schedule changed. This applies to your fitness plans also. Instead of feeling frustrated or guilty, start with a flexible mindset. Allow yourself breathing space for adjustments.

2. Pay attention to the nutrition that is nourishing your body in the traveling lifestyle

Food is the cornerstone of health.

When it comes to fitness, nutrition is 80% of the battle. All other healthy choices become irrelevant if you slacken on your diet and load up on processed junk.

Fitness on the go

‘Dieting ’ is often perceived as restrictive and stressful - when done wrong it often is. When done right, dieting simply means eating food to nourish your body and fuel your activities.

Ann Wigmore 

The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison. 

Eating healthy can be a challenge while you are on the go. Don't stress yourself with the ‘either or’ approach.

Use it like a bank account - At the end of the day, the healthy food you eat (the deposit) should exceed your occasional splurge (withdrawals) by a good margin.

A rule of thumb - Never eat two bad meals in a row.

Trying local cuisines will help you combine health, adventure and pleasure in every bite.

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Here are 5 strategies that will help you to nourish your body when you are living out of suitcases -

  1. Moderate your intake - On account of constraints of time or social courtesy, you will have to ditch your best intentions and eat something unhealthy on occasion. Don't panic. Stick to moderate portions and go easy on your next meal.
  2. ​Be snack smart - Your mealtimes can go haywire when you lose track of time working or exploring. Plan ahead and carry healthy snacks like nuts, seasonal fruits and cold pressed juices to avoid the temptation of greasy fast food.
  3. Try local cuisine - Research the restaurants and try the freshly cooked local cuisine prepared with natural ingredients. Go for the dishes with seasonal ingredients and a high protein component.
  4. ​Match your activity to your meals - Use food to fuel your activities throughout the day. If you plan to slog at your desk, pick light meals. If you plan on exploring or doing other outdoor physical activity, load up on protein and carbs.
  5. Ditch the carbonated drinks - These sugary drinks are easily available and definitely tasty in the hot summer months. But soft drink consumption has been associated with lower intake of necessary nutrients and with an increased risk of medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease. Hydrate with water and green smoothies when you are on the go and avoid sugar crashes.

3. Find creative ways to integrate physical movement into your day

Physical activity is a crucial component of having a healthy body and mind. Especially when you are traveling, regular exercise can help you maintain your health goals.

Edmund Stanley

For those who think they have no time for bodily exercise...will find out later...they will have time for bodily illness.

You don't have to slog for hours - exercising for as little as 20 minutes can elevate your mood. Getting physical movement will help reduce the stress of working while traveling.

Exercise lowers your risk of various ailments like depression, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and osteoarthritis.

The word exercise often conjures up images of people torturing themselves inside the gym.Not exactly an inspiring image if you want to stay healthy on a vacation!

Let your vacation workout be organic. Make it fun and social to get out of the ‘to do’ mentality.

Exercise is not punishment, it is nourishment.

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Be reasonable.

Traveling has a way of shooting surprises at you and messing up your best laid plans.So, don’t be too rigid about your workout plans and reset your expectations.

Get out of the gym mentality. Be open to exploring novel and local opportunities for physical movement.

Here are 5 ideas that will help keep you active and fit when you are living life on the go -

  1. Add an equipment free workout routine - Having an equipment free basic routine will help you squeeze in quality physical activity within the comfort of your hotel room. It is ideal for the traveling lifestyle wherein carrying fitness equipment might be impractical.
  2. Use the activity options at the hotel - Check out the soul cycle center or tennis courts. They combine physical activity with socialising, fun and relaxation. Instead of the hotel bar, hit the pool for a relaxing swim at the end of the day.
  3. Get Creative - Ditch the tour bus and explore the city on foot. Use walking tours, hiking or biking to enjoy the city while incorporating physical movement. Go for a jog or indulge in a spot of skiing or go rock climbing.
  4. Stay active throughout the day - If you can't take out dedicated workout time from your schedule, find innovative ways to add movement. Take the stairs, take a walk around the terminal or walk a couple of blocks and try local cuisine instead of eating lunch at your desk.
  5. Try Yoga - Yoga is excellent for end of the day stretching. It will relax both your mind and body which is ideal for dealing with the stress of travel.

4. Prioritise sleep for a sharp mind and healthy body

Travel and sleep are not exactly the best of combinations.

Fitness on the go

Business travel especially is a cocktail of zone changes, high performance demands under stress, hectic schedules, rich meals, unfamiliar surroundings and late nights. Perfect recipe for sleeplessness, don't you think?

But sleep has to be a priority if you want to be healthy and at the top of your game.

Sleep deprivation has negative consequences on your body, mind, productivity and health in the long term.

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Losing as little as one and a half hours in just one night reduces daytime alertness by about one-third.

Sleep deprivation impairs memory and the ability to think and process information. It also leads to mood alterations, attention deficits, slower reaction times, and increased risk for accidents.

When you are on the go, a lot of factors are out of your control. But your hotel room is your own bubble and you can try to make it as sleep-friendly as possible.

Mindy Kaling  

There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it. 

Here are 5 tips that will help you get rejuvenating sleep even when you are away from the comfort of your bed -

  1. Recreate your sleep zone - It could be your favourite pillow or a scented candle or sheets that you love sleeping on. These little things remind your body of the sleep routine and help you relax as you would at home. Following a sleep ritual like brushing and meditating before bed also helps.
  2. Minimise distractions - Carry the sleep masks, earplugs and white noise machines/app with you. These will create a good ambience of sleep even during travel or at your hotel room.
  3. Unplug - 30 minutes to 1 hour before you go to sleep, switch off all the screens - TV, laptops and cellphones. This will decrease brain stimulation and ease the transition from activity to rest. If you listen to music at bedtime make sure it is relaxing and not distracting/loud. Use your bed exclusively for sleep. Don't eat in bed or try to work in bed.
  4. ​Dim the lights - when you come back in the evening, don't flood your room with light. Use task lighting for reading or work if necessary. This will cheat your body into activating the melatonin cycle for sleep.
  5. Warm bath - Take a warm bath to wash away the stress of the day and relax your body and mind. This will also lower your body temperature and facilitate restorative sleep.

5. Use technology to keep track of your fitness habits

We use apps for everything, why not for fitness?

Apps are an ideal way to keep track of your fitness habits in the tech-loving lifestyle.

Using apps will help you set your own personal fitness goals and maintain a pace that is right for you.

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According to Pew research center's 'mobile health study', 52% of smartphone users gather health information on their phones. One-fifth of smartphone owners have a health app.

Whether you are a beginner or a veteran, just trying to lose weight or working on balancing your overall health markers, there is an app for you.

Fitness on the go

Choose and stick to the app that best meets your fitness and lifestyle needs.

Here are the 5 apps that will help you stay mindful of your fitness choices -

  1. SWORKIT- Simply work it - This app is a great option for you if you don't have ready access to equipment. It has a custom workout builder that lets you create and share your workouts. This app has the reputation of meeting most of the health standards set by the American College of Sports Medicine.
  2. Run keeper - This app is for runners who are in the market for fuss-free fitness tracking. It tracks your GPS, allows you to create custom music mixes and routes, and lets you design your own workouts. The basic version requires very little effort on your part and it is also cross-platform compatible, allowing you to jump from iOS to Android.
  3. Simple steps - This is the beginner app or ‘get off the couch’ app. It gives hints that help you make small realistic changes which can be developed into fitness habits over time. This can be useful to keep up the everyday health habits in the middle of a traveling lifestyle.
  4. My Fitness Pal - This app is a great nutrition tracker. It has a barcode scanner and a recipe calculator that help you stay mindful of the calories you are consuming. You can set diet goals and keep an eye on your progress with the help of this app.
  5. Fitbit - This gadget is a great option for the fashion conscious. It tracks your activity, exercise, nutrition and sleep. This is a good fit for you if you are looking to keep track of your overall health habits.

Conclusion

Fitness is not a standalone component, it needs to become a way of life.

When you are traveling, away from the comfort of your routine and dealing with stressors it is easy to slip into unhealthy habits.

Plan ahead for nutrition and movement. Use technology to your advantage. Be conscious about the choices you are making.

Being healthy is an everyday priority, not an ‘on - off’ option.

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.Eating, movement, and sleep - they are not only biological functions. They also cater to deeper emotional needs. Taking care of them will help you stay fit in mind, body and spirit.

Are you ready to set some fitness goals for your next trip?