Recently, I’ve read a very wise sentence and I completely go along with the author: you’re the sum of all your habits.
What we develop into is defined by our routines. If you develop bad habits then your life will gradually rot becoming dark and miserable, as you get lost in your addictions.
On the contrary, if you begin practicing positive things and do them routinely, even if you start very small (and you probably should), more light comes into your world.
So if you feel bad right now, you’re probably stuck practicing bad habits, whether it’s procrastination, not taking a full responsibility for your life or overeating. You know best what’s the issue. Use the habits I present below as a way out of your problems, maybe not the perfect one, but I promise you, doing them has a miraculous impact.
Now let’s get to my personal habits that contribute a hell of a lot to my personal growth:
Taking a cold shower
I can’t say the exact date when I committed to letting the cold water shock my body every morning, but it’s been around 4–6 months that I stick to it. During this time, I failed a few times, probably no more than 10 and definitely under 20. By failure, I mean taking a warm, comfortable shower.
Why is this habit so important? It’s part of my daily hygiene, but there’s some deeper meaning I attach to that. Whenever I take a cold shower, I recall two crucial life lessons. Firstly, what you fear is likely fictional. I’m literally afraid of the freezing cold water, it feels sort of painful, but once it’s over I realize how stupid this thought was. A person who went through the real pain would laugh seeing how I sometimes hesitate to do it.
Secondly, it’s the metaphor of success, or to be more precise, what the way to success feels like. It’s uncomfortable. You try to quit, outtalk yourself, look for reasonable excuses (which don’t exist), panic. But then, once you go through the discomfort and you achieve a tiny success for that very morning, you realize that it’s worth to struggle in order to take a bath in the feeling of fulfillment and pride later on.
Based on today’s lifestyle promoted in western societies, this is a life-saving habit. If you read this, you have the access to the computer and the Internet, which means you probably don’t walk enough. The sedentary lifestyle is killing your body and mind. Whenever I cease doing the right things and move closer to the side of bad habits, I tend to sit way too much. So much that I feel the pain in my lower back. My mind hurts as well. It’s stupid, but as human beings, we tend to do foolish stuff until we don’t.
So the low-back pain makes me realize it’s time to move my ass and commit to doing it daily once again. So I go for a walk, I walk for 30 minutes, an hour, sometimes and hour and a half. It’s a walk for the sake of walking, no destination to reach, the only goal being to make my body feel alive. Sometimes I walk with headphones listening to podcasts or music, other times I let my thoughts busy my mind.
I feel better, I’m more disciplined, I’m happier and I come up with better ideas.
I can’t rely on myself, so I need to plan in order to move forward and achieve the desired results. If I don’t plan, I begin wasting time, practicing bad habits and harming myself, it’s inevitable. However, if I devote some time to scheduling my day and setting small goals to accomplish, then I’m far more likely to go to sleep without regrets.
For today, I planned my morning routine, exactly all the tiny things I need to do in order to proceed with other more complex tasks and make them less of a struggle. What I’m doing right now, which is writing this post, was also planned and I highly doubt I’d be doing it if I wouldn’t schedule it in the first place.
Planning is incredibly important. Depending purely on your motivation or mood is deceptive and foolish. Today’s evening is the last deadline to plan for your tomorrow. You need to know what you’ll be doing the next day, before this day starts and you then know whether you feel like doing it or not. This, however, shouldn’t matter, because if you planned it carefully and wisely, you’ll do it anyway. Once it’s done, or sometimes, at the very moment you begin executing the plan, your happiness and motivation levels increase, skyrocket at times.
The vast majority of the personal successes I experienced in my life was a result of following a decent plan. There was no place for luck or accident.
To emphasize the importance of this habit, let me recall one of my favorite quotes:
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
I intentionally emphasize books. I read online articles as well, but on many sites my mind tends to wander off and I lose focus quickly. Too many distractions. Doesn’t always happen but it does more often comparing to reading a book.
At the beginning of this year, I bought Kindle, and this was one of the best possessions I’ve acquired. Since then, I abandoned the traditional books. Honestly, I never felt well reading them, they were somehow distractive to me so I couldn’t really develop the habit of reading. With the ebook reader, the design remains the same, same font type and font size, same page size. The only difference being the author and his message. I can carry my small library wherever I go, filling my spare time with the wisdom of people thousands of times more experienced than me.
If you like browsing quotes or reading about successful people, you’ll notice a similarity among those individuals. They read regularly, probably daily. Reading is powerful, each chapter expands your horizons and nourishes your brain. I read in three languages which is even more beneficial. The amount of amazing lessons I learned while digesting the books word by word is invaluable.
Today when I woke up, reading was a part of my morning routine, twenty minutes of it. Here are two incredibly eye-opening sentences I want you to think through:
I am not the outcome. I am never the result. I am only the effort.
Right or wrong is a gift of hindsight, and even then there are biases.
These quotes come from a book I’m reading currently (Live Your Truth), inspired by the previous one I gave a try (Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It), a bestseller from the same author, Kamal Ravikant. I highly encourage you to read both, each one being a source of life-changing lessons and inspirations.
They made me realize that each attempt is worthwhile, none goes wasted. Whether you achieve your intention or fail miserably plays no role. The only thing that matters is that you tried and you should keep doing so. This applies to any area of life and is simply a mind-opening reflection.
The second one also encourages trying, because that’s the only way to learn and then draw conclusions. Right or wrong is a gift of hindsight, so don’t blame yourself too much, even when the outcome isn’t satisfying, because you’re just the effort.
Freshly added gem on my habits list
I constantly try to work on my habits, eradicate the harmful ones, plant seeds for those that are life-changing. A new seed in my pot is an idea borrowed from James Altucher (and if you don’t know him, please do yourself a favor and read his blog). It’s the habit of writing 10 ideas a day. If you experience a sudden moment of enlightenment, write 50 or 100. Remember, the outcome doesn’t matter, your ideas will suck, but you’re just the effort, so don’t pay any attention to that.
It’s an exercise and the muscle being trained is your brain. The league of your ideas doesn’t matter as well. Go for business ideas, techniques to run faster or best ways to spend 50$ on experiences. My last ideas were 10 ways to fuck up your mood. I ended up discovering 12, all affirmed and tested when I reached rock bottom. Coming up with the idea for ideas is a warm-up, once you have it figured out, let’s say 10 tiny habits that will change your life for better over time, you then proceed to the core of this exercise, namely finding these ideas, or ways, or things etc.
James swears that after six months of practice, you’ll not only become an idea machine but your life will transform too. I have no doubts it’s going to happen and this is why I began this habit in the first place. I didn’t write my today’s ideas yet, but that’s the next thing I planned to do after completing this post. My brain gets excited to begin this exercise in a moment.