This post was written for and posted on Ember & Solis.
How changing tiny daily habits will dramatically change your future
When we picture a better future for ourselves, we often see the "big steps” needed to get there. But what if reaching your future goals wasn’t done in a matter of big accomplishments, but rather in tiny changes to your daily life? Luckily for us, this is exactly the case. Overtime, small habits compound into incredible results. It could be over months, or even years, which is why we tend not to focus on these tiny changes.
Imagine if you improved just 1% each day, where would you be in a year?? 10 years? 20 years? You would probably see some BIG results. Now imagine if you made a 1% decline in your habits everyday (food, exercise, reading, learning, work ethic). Again, you would probably see big results, but they would not be aligned with the future you wanted for yourself. This is why making sure your daily habits are aligned with your future goals is so important.
Our brains crave completing easy tasks with instant gratification, and we have the ability to design our environment in order to encourage tiny changes to our behavior, which overtime will lead to massive results. So lets get started talking about how you can change your environment, to encourage better habits, and change your life.
How to change your environment to encourage better habits
Attaching Rewards to Positive Routines
Many small tasks we need to do to reach our “rewards” do not give us instant gratification. For example, eating healthy for a day will not give us our dream body right away, and being more productive during the day will not automatically make us more money. By attaching instant rewards to these positive activities we can encourage ourselves to have better habits & routines.
Here are some examples. If your goal is to exercise for 30 minutes a day, you could reward yourself with a smoothie after you complete your exercise. Similarly, you could allow yourself to watch Netflix only while on the treadmill. In another example, if you want to save money to go on vacation, each time you pass on going out for dinner or drinks, and instead do DIY, you could put the money you would save into a savings account or jar immediately, so you can see the results ASAP and watch them build over time.
Another way we can manipulate our environment is to change our visual cues. This could be as simple as putting your gym bag by the door, keeping the book you are studying by your bed, or stocking your fridge with healthy food and drinks instead of soda and junk food.
Replace poor routines with better routines
If we keep the habit loop in mind (cue > routine > reward), we know that if we can replace a routine with a healthier one that yields the same result, we can dramatically change our life over time. For example, if you go out for beers after work every day with a coworker to “let off steam” (cue = the stressful work day is over, reward = endorphins and social activity), you could ask the coworker to engage in a healthier routine with you each day. This could be a walk along the water, a bike ride, or heading to the rock climbing gym. The reward would stay the same, but by changing the routine, overtime you will see great changes to your health.
Remember how we are far more likely to stick to a habit when it requires less energy? By starting small, we are more likely to stick to a new habit. Here are a few examples. If your goal is to do the splits, you are much more likely to stick to your habit and reach your goal if you commit to stretching for 3 minutes everyday versus 15. Similarly, if your goal is to read a book to learn a new skill, you are far more likely to stick to this if you commit to reading 20 minutes a day versus an hour. Remember that small daily changes lead to big results, and implementing these tiny tweaks to your day just may mean the difference between reaching your goals or not.
Thanks for being here, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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