If you do not change direction you may end up where you are heading.

— Lao Tzu

I have learned that the most effective way for me to approach change in my life is by creating daily habits. They have been at the crux of all my most powerful personal shifts. I have transformed myself developing a steady stream of habits to practice. Each of these habits has furthered my efforts to grow in the areas of mindfulness, taking care of my body and expanding my self-worth.

So when I decided to begin really focusing on my life coaching business I knew that creating daily habits would help me be successful . Goal setting can be lofty and overwhelming, in my experience. I often have unrealistic expectations that feel unattainable. I have found by breaking things down into daily habits I am more focused,  I am always moving in the direction I want and staying present by really concentrating on today.

Daily habits let me manage and attain my targets at a slow and steady pace. This allows the behaviours or tasks to become natural parts of my daily life. It also makes room for an increased sense of accomplishment and self-worth if the habits are set up in a way that allows for a high fulfillment rate. Below I share with you the five essential ideas I use when setting up a new habit in my life.

Be clear about why!

Becoming serious about having a new career has been a real journey for me. The thing I keep coming back to is my why because my why is very clear to me. I could take on any number of new jobs but none have called to me like life coaching. And that is because it is in alignment with my purpose.

I believe my purpose on this planet is to help people, including myself,  foster a strong sense of self-worth so that we can experience authentically positive living. I try and live my life serving this purpose. It is my motivation for taking care of myself, my loved ones and people I encounter. And it is how and why I do the things I do each day.

Knowing my why helps me create habits with ease. It helps me weed out the stuff that doesn’t sit well with who I am. And it helps me choose habits which propel me closer to my purpose. My personal daily habits all reflect my belief in my purpose. And now, so too, do the habits I have chosen to work on for my business. If something matters to us on a deep level, it is much more likely we will be invested in it. And that in turn sets us up for success.

Action, Action, Action!

Here’s the thing, once you know you want to do something it becomes quite natural to have a vision of hope for what this idea might look like down the road. But as we all know wishes don’t actually make dreams come true, action does.

Action is a difficult balancing act. Bite off more than we can chew and we are doomed to fail, don’t act and, well, nothing changes. So my big piece of advice is do tiny, little, baby-step actions each and every day.  And when I say tiny I mean tiny. Make it fool-proof. Make it so easy it almost feels like cheating when you check it of your list. This is especially important at the beginning of this process.

That way the habit is both successful and rewarding thus “tricking” us into believing we can actually do the thing that feels impossible to our doubting brains. For example, when I first began my career habit I have called Client Connection, my task might have been to send an email to confirm a meeting. That’s it. Simple and quick tasks like that eventually grew into more complex tasks which now have my client base expanding. 

I am a true believer in the snowball effect. Each small action leads to the next and over time we find ourselves in a new spot from where we started. That is the change.

Identify your procrastination tool and kick it to the curb!

What is your tool of choice? Mine is my chore list! If I let myself, each and every day I could fill a foolscap piece of paper with chores. Although I am not a fan of chores particularly, I am very proficient at them. They make my ego-self feel very accomplished. I can get caught up in purging, cleaning and organizing at the drop of a hat.

Now that I am focusing on the work I have to do to be a life coach, the number one emotion I feel is fear. I am scared every day as I write my new list of actions I must take to promote myself professionally and creatively. And that Ego-self voice keeps whispering in my ear “Remember, you can feel accomplished and proficient if you just listen to me.”

In the beginning, when I wasn’t being as mindful as I am now,  I would listen to my ego-self and write too many chores on my list and even though my work goals were there, admittedly,  I ignored them, especially if they felt hard. I vacuumed every corner of my apartment or cleaned the tub with a toothbrush. I had to find a way to accept the fear and stop using my chore list as a scapegoat .

Now I take a little time to mindfully write my list. I still have a chore list but those jobs are not the priority. I commit to my work list first and then my chores come second. Sometimes I have to run errands or do chores that are time sensitive. Of course I take care of them but I do spend time really deciding if they are a true priority or a just another plot to not do the work.

Be accountable

I have never liked this essential part of creating habits that stick. I don’t like people knowing I am not perfect at something, that I have to try so hard at something to make such small changes happen. I think this is a pretty normal human response (especially for my personality type). But I have learned that without this crucial step it is way too easy to talk yourself out of working on your habits. It is easy to listen to the reasoning you provide yourself.

But when someone else knows you are supposed to get things done, well you do them. I am very careful about who I ask for this help from. I make sure it is a person in my life who is not critical, judgemental or uninterested in my progress. I choose people who support me and are always cheering me on but are also able to gently but firmly remind me to stay on track. I am grateful and happy to say I have quite a few of these people in my life.

Once they have agreed to be my accountability buddy, I give them lots of details, such as, how I plan on executing my habit , what my timeline is, and what constitutes success in my eyes. And then I ask them to check in on me regularly. This is the toughest part for me and so I have to really trust this person or people. I may feel defensive or vulnerable if things aren’t going well, and that is a real possibility when we try something new. Choose wisely and then be open to momentum you gain from having someone in your corner.

At times you are going to make mistakes and fail so be kind to yourself!

There will be days when fear wins. There will be days when I make huge mistakes. There will be days when I just don’t feel up to the tasks at hand. There will be days when I just want to play hooky! And on those days I will not be successful at creating my career habits. But if I can remember that I am human and good enough and deserve my kindness, on those days, I will learn great lessons.

I do try to be kind to myself all the time these days and more and more I am. I have learned to read the signs my body generates when I am struggling, fearful or anxious. And that is when I allow myself to reflect and refuel. My reflection tools of choice are meditation and journaling. They have been instrumental in my growth personally. And as for refueling, often its as simple as a cup of tea, a walk to my favourite park, or dancing to the radio in the kitchen.

It is human nature to be wishful for our future to be bigger and brighter. It is my hope for each of us that we turn those wishes into real and actionable steps. When we act daily with purpose and kindness toward ourselves, we  form new habits that produce an unstoppable energy forward! So take your first baby step toward making your dream come true. What habit do you want to add to your life? I would love to hear from you and how you plan on getting started.