30 Days to Better Habits – My Journey

30 Days to Better Habits - My JourneyIt’s okay to want more from life and be dissatisfied with your current situation. As long as you’re not walking around in a perpetual pity party, wanting more can indicate a need for growth. In fact, I found myself in a situation this past fall where I was dissatisfied. My body was not nearly in the shape I wanted it to be in and there were other aspects of my life that needed change.

I woke up early one morning and couldn’t fall back asleep so I did a lot of thinking and retrospection. I discovered the root cause of many of my challenges to be related to habits. Some habits needed to go. I also found some additional habits that I could apply to help move me in the right direction.

That morning (November 10th), I came up with the idea of a 30 day program. The program has daily and weekly checklists to ensure I develop effective habits. I’ve read that it takes a solid 21 days to make habit permanent so I added some padding. As I worked through the program, I added four bonus days to make it an even five weeks. Today is the last day of my second run through the program: Day 70. So I’m excited to share some of my areas of growth, lessons learned and final thoughts.

 

Areas of Growth:

My focus was on health, spirituality, career development and personal development but I also put some fun stuff in there. I felt I made the most progress on the spiritual side as that was the area I was lacking in most.  I know some people are uncomfortable when discussing religion but I’ve found it to be a fascinating topic. It can be a turn off when people get creepy, pushy or try to pull you in and I’ve certainly been in those situations. But I’ve also learned a lot from my friends of different faiths and belief systems. Some of the areas I’ve grown related to spirituality include:

  • I pray regularly each day and acknowledge my shortcomings.
  • I’ve become more forgiving and understanding as well as less quick to judge. One of the key things I’ve learned is that you never know what’s going on in someone else’s life. For example, another driver was rude to me and rather than let it make me angry, I truly felt bad for him. I figured that he must be having a worse day than me to act that way. While I’ve made progress, this is still an area I need to work on.
  • At the start of the program, I’d frequently get impatient with people (especially while driving). Now, if I get caught at a red light or behind a school bus, it’s not the end of the world.
  • I’ve realized that people have their own issues and challenges and try to help them when I can. For example, when someone acted rudely towards me in traffic earlier this week, I figured they must be having a worse day than I was and forgave them.
  • Each day I reflect on the many things I’m grateful for. I do this whether it’s a good day or a bad day and it’s probably one of the more powerful habits that I’ve developed.
  • I worry less than I used to. This is something I’ve struggled with for years and the few minutes of meditation I do each day relaxes and clears my mind.

 

Health is the next area where I’ve had growth. I tipped the scales at 214 pounds back in September (I’m six feet tall). This morning, I weighed 184 (my weight fluctuates between 182 and 190 – the latter being my target weight). I’m excited about how my clothes fit better and I have more energy. Here are some other things:

  • I could barely do 50 push-ups back in November. Today I can do over 100 in one set.
  • My waist is three inches smaller.
  • I consistently take my multivitamin each day. I’ve frequently struggled with this in the past.
  • I eat significantly fewer calories than I burn most days.
  • I’ve met my daily step goals on all but six days out of the 70.
  • I’ve started drinking more water each day to prevent dehydration.
  • Now that I count calories, I’m making better food decisions. For example, many main dishes and desserts at restaurants contain nearly 1000 calories. So I’ll either choose something healthier or I’ll splurge and then work it off on my exercise bike when I get home.
  • I park further away from places forcing me to walk more.
  • I’ll often use my exercise bike while I watch TV.

 

Last but not least is personal and professional development. This has been fun because I’ve discovered so many amazing speakers and content creators. Some of the highlights in this area include:

  • I’ve read two books and over a dozen articles on career skills.
  • I’ve watched dozens of motivational videos and learned about some amazing teachers out there.I share some of the better ones each week on my weekly reviews.
  • I started writing a novel back in 2008 that I never finished. It’s now at a point where I’ve shared it with a pilot group of friends and family.
  • I started creating a new eBook and have started scoping out several others.
  • One of my weekly tasks was to connect with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while. I’ve reconnected with six people I hadn’t caught up with in a while and it has been excellent. In most cases, we often were able to help each other with things such as making a connection or getting advice.
  • I share some of the better ones I’ve come across in my weekly updates.
  • A story I started in 2008 is finally at the point that I have some family and friends reviewing it. One of my 2020 resolutions is to finish things that I started years ago so I’m especially excited about this.
  • I worked watching TV and playing video games into my weekly schedule as life must have balance.

 

Lessons Learned:

Working with this program has been exciting. I’ve learned so much more than I would have if I didn’t begin this journey. It takes work and commitment to develop effective habits. You can’t just “hope” and “wish” – you need to commit. There were days when I just wanted to quit and days where at 11:45 PM, I was scrambling to get my exercises in. Here are some of the things I’ve discovered along the way:

  • This program requires a solid two hour commitment each day in order for it to truly work. I’ve had some weeks where I had to pair it down a little or I would get frustrated about not reaching my goals.
  • It can be a challenge to fit this time in with my work and other commitments. I have found some tricks to multi-task (such as playing motivational videos in the background while I work) that helps.
  • Thanks to some plug-ins from WordPress, I’ve identified a number of areas where my writing needs to improve.
  • It can be overwhelming at times to sort through all the videos out there. If you find certain speakers or content creators are especially good, look for more from them.
  • There are days when it’s hard to make time for this, so I’m working out factoring in slack days that should be used sparingly. The problem with slack days is that it breaks your progress on the habit and then you’re less motivated. However, there are days when you need to slack such as vacation, you or someone close to you unexpectedly getting hurt/sick or just having too many commitments.
  • I added in fun stuff to create balance. One item on my list for each day was to do something fun. I only missed this twice throughout the 70 days.
  • Not everyone out there is an expert – even TED Talk speakers. I came across some videos that had thousands of likes, but I didn’t find the advice helpful.
  • Timeboxing is a powerful technique. There are times when I’m between activities and have five or ten minutes. So I’ll look at my list and saw something I could spend five minutes on and would tackle it.

 

Final thoughts:

Overall, I’m very excited about this journey. Tomorrow marks an important day for me as I begin my third run through the program. I had initially planned to go through it three times before sharing it to work out any issues. If your’e interested in learning more about this program, keep an eye on this blog, check out my weekly reviews and/or leave a comment below.

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