Atomic Habits | Power of Habit | The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – all of these books have one thing in common – Habit.

Our habits define how we go out and perform our daily life. They influence both our personal and professional life.

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you want to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity”

James Clear – Atomic Habit

What James means in that line is that the habits and the actions we perform as part of those habits basically build up a new identity of ourselves. If we fill the fountain of our personality with strong, healthy habits, they will eventually come together to form a strong, confident personality. If all we do is think negatively and build up habits that bring down our value, we lose in the race of life. 

Science has claimed time and again that the actions we perform each day eventually become habitual inside our minds to the point that we start performing them subconsciously. They become ingrained in our mental fiber that responds automatically to the triggering events. 

Think about that time you said you would work out but then you didn’t even get out of bed. Or the time you had to complete an important assignment but you just started a 4-hour binge-fest on Netflix. 

At the end of the day, habits are something we have full control over. It is we who decide whether we build healthy habits or unhealthy ones. It is us who decide whether we devote time to our meaningful side hustle and not a binge-fest on Netflix. I am not against that binge-fest by all means. I am a strong advocate for finding balance – spending sufficient time on the serious stuff (work, assignments, side-hustle) and the fun stuff (hanging out with friends, Netflix).

So how do I form habits? More meaningful ones?

How to form meaningful habits?
How to form meaningful habits?

According to research, “a habit is formed when we perform an action frequently and consistently over a period of time”. For example, if you consistently eat fast food over a long period of time, there will come a time when you’ll refuse to eat anything other than fast food. Your body will internally get used to that feeling that fast food gives – and it won’t accept any other feeling.

While some habits are easier to form (binge-watching Netflix, fast food, etc), habits that have transformative effects and are generally more beneficial in our lives are difficult to master. Transitioning to vegetables and healthy food when all you used to eat previously was fast food is a tough journey albeit not an impossible one. At the end of the day. It comes down to two things:

  1. Hard Work
  2. Consistency

Habits don’t form overnight. It takes time for our body to fully acclimatize to a new habit and ingrain it into itself. I usually have a three-pronged strategy for habit formation:

  1. Research – The internet has a wide variety of resources for any topic. If you want to build a habit, utilize that vast network and explore different options as to how you can gain control over that habit
  2. Action – This is the toughest but the most important step of all. Like I stated before, a habit takes consistency and frequency to master. The research you performed in step one will provide a direction that you move toward and  gain control over that habit 
  3. Reflection – I am a strong believer in making small improvements in any part of life. In the same way, when you master a habit, you don’t just leave it there hanging out by itself. You find ways to enhance that habit and make it more enriching for yourself. For example, you have made working out a habit – now to enhance that habit, you can change your environment – working out in a gym or outdoors instead of at home – or you can get new equipment that gets you better results

My Favorite Top 5 Habits that will Transform your Life

Without wasting your time, I’d like to share my Top 5 Favorite Habits that I bet will help you transform your life and make it worth living!

1. Read books – not your Ex’s texts

Read Books Not texts from your Ex
Read Books Not texts from your Ex

This is a habit that I’ve personally worked on in 2021. I always liked to read but could never find the time to do so. That is until I found out I was terrible at time management. I guess the only consolation for me is that I’m not the only one terrible at it.

According to Healthline, there are several benefits why you should read a book:
– It strengthens the brain
– Builds vocabulary
– Prevents cognitive decline
– Reduces stress
– Lengthens lifespan

Crazy, right! And it doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours per day. You can read for as little as 15-30 minutes per day and notice visible improvements in your life. I personally started reading for 30 minutes each day and slowly bumped that up to an hour. These days, I don’t think about how much time I spend reading. Instead, I decide in advance how many chapters I will read per day and then put that strategy into action.

In my personal life, I have noticed quite a lot of improvements. Reading books (particularly self-help books), I have gained clarity in my future goals. I have also been able to significantly improve my general knowledge and perception of life. I’ve found that I’m more calm and composed when talking to people and having that extra bit of perception definitely gives me an edge on how I process and understand information.

Remember! The goal is not to read every now and then. You have to spend a minimum of time per day to build up that habit. It does take time to settle especially if you’ve never read it before, but it’s an investment worth making.

While the three steps look easy on paper, nothing could be further from the truth. I personally have broken that strategy so many times and dreaded that long process from ideating a habit to finally mastering it. 

Key Findings – Consistency & Frequency of actions will bear fruit

2. Play an instrument – not to hit on a girl but to enjoy

Music is soothing for the mind, body, and the spirit
Music is soothing for the mind, body, and the spirit

Don’t get me wrong! I’ve been told multiple times by other people that musicians get the girls or boys (whatever your interest is in). But, I luckily found a mentor who thought differently. That mentor introduced me to so many new genres of songs and now my list is so diverse even Canada could take notes from it. From Sinatra to Ed Sheeran to Queen to Alan Jackson to Avicii, my Spotify playlist is as diverse as they come.

Music, the same as books, has a lot of Therapeutic benefits for the human body:
– Reduces stress
– Cultivates Creativity
– Improves memory capability
– Improves time-management skills

You don’t need to give in to your friend’s advice and pick up a guitar as that’s what’s cool these days. I’d recommend playing various instruments and then deciding which one you enjoy the most.

Remember! The end goal isn’t to become a pro at it or get all the girls (wherever your head’s at). Instead, you should focus on seeking enjoyment from it and using it as something to heal and recover from the daily grind of life.

3. Exercise – you’d have guessed it from the title of this article

I swear if this isn’t the hundredth time you’ve read exercise being listed in an article about habits. But it is really the Holy Grail, in my humble opinion. Exercise opens up a world of opportunity for you. It allows you to improve your health, get all the eyes on you, and achieve so much more!

According to the Washington Post, an average American adult spends 6.5 hours per day sitting. That might look trivial in the short term but the long-term effects are really harmful. Sitting for that long can cause obesity in people, increase blood pressure and even lead to chronic pain in the joints.

Hence, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t work out. I don’t see exercise in the traditional sense that is lifting weights and bench-pressing (you know the drill). My schedule is super-weird which means I cannot work out every day (gyms in Pakistan aren’t open 24/7). I believe it comes down to two things

1) Mobility and 2) Stretching. The first part is easy. Try walking for at least 15 minutes per day and take it from there. The goal is to get the body moving, in whatever way you manage to do it.  As for the second aspect, this involves making certain body movements that help alleviate pressure and pain from the joints.

This article by Mathias Method will guide you on how to Mobilize and Stretch your body.

4. Use micro-learning to grow

Enhance yourself through microlearning
Enhance yourself through microlearning

Everyone has different goals and different ways to get there. I believe learning is a constant part of life and something we should partake in daily. In a world where we have so much access to it, why are we not involved in learning?

Learning as a means to grow helps you achieve two things:
– Improves knowledge retention and memory
– Helps you get better opportunities and find success in life

There are many ways you can get started with this step. I’d suggest starting with YouTube. Why? You may ask… Well, it’s free! YouTube has over 50 million creators on its platform spread out in so many different niches you can’t even imagine.

Steal my strategy for micro-learning on YouTube:

1. Find clarity – The most important step is finding out what it is that you want to learn. There can be broad answers for example, “I want to learn Digital Marketing”. These need to be narrowed down into components. Instead of saying “I want to learn Digital Marketing”, try saying “I want to learn Content Marketing Strategy”. Being broad will point you in too many different directions and you’ll become confused. Narrow down to individual components and deal with one component at a time.

2. Research – In this step, you curate a list of creators on YouTube who offer lessons about your chosen topic. You can speed up the process by simply searching on Google for; “best channels to learn content marketing strategy”. Or you can put that query into YouTube and let the platform dictate the creators most suitable for you.

3. Draw up a Plan – For micro-learning to take shape, you need to be strategic about it and you need to create a plan. After you’ve done the research and decided on a channel (s), create a short plan that details what you will learn from the creator, individual lessons and learning points, and how exactly you will put those lessons into practical use. The latter is very important. To master any skill, you have to put it to practical use.

4. Implement the Plan – This is, not surprisingly, the toughest step to perform. You need to go through those lessons consistently as outlined in your plan and you need to do the corresponding practical work. Focus on consistency with this step. The more consistent you are, the better results you will see.

5. Reflect – We’ve talked about this step already. But what that means really is to take note of the work you’ve done and identify any areas for improvement. By identifying these areas, you can then take actionable steps to improve and solidify your strategy.

5. Spend time with your family and friends

Spend time with friends and family
Spend time with friends and family

This is a little bit different from what mainstream sites would tell you but at PlayTru, we’re built differently. We all have our own commitments in life, and most of those don’t involve our families.

Whether it’s work-related or normal hang-outs with friends, we tend to ignore our families, especially our parents. That’s understandable due to the generation gap but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make time for them.

Just take a look at some of these benefits from Highland Spring Clinic:
– Improves mental health
– Boosts self-confidence
– Enhances physical health
– Helps you learn future parenting skills

I personally value this time a lot! Coming from a call center background couldn’t get to spend a lot of time with my parents and siblings due to the hectic schedule. I lasted only two months in that job and luckily after a while got a full-time remote job with a considerable increase in the pay package. But most of all, I regained that valuable time that I could now spend with my family.

I was irritated and moody while working in the call center. But having that time back considerably enhanced my emotions. I felt better with myself and my mental health also improved due to this change.

Now, I do spend time with my friends (I have a whole weekend devoted to that), but during the weekdays, I get to spend quality time with my family and life has never been better. Try it out for yourself. It might take time to adapt but the long-term benefits are amazing!

Consistency & Patience are key…

All of these habits will take time and effort to master. Some might take a few weeks to master it while it would take months for others to control it. At the end of the day, the goal shouldn’t be how long it takes you to make healthy habits, rather it should be the transformative impact those habits have over your life. 

I’d highly recommend buying a copy of Atomic Habits by James Clear. It is one of the Top 10 books on my list and a life-changer if you understand the message and implement the actionable advice given in it. 

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