I Stuck to 5 Habits for 30 Days. Here’s How it Changed Me
Nelson Mandela once said, “There is no passion to be found playing small and settling for a life that’s less than the one you’re capable of living”. This quote sounds like it was straight out of a movie. The typical thing about movies is that there’s always a main character makeover. Movies such as She’s All That, The Devil Wears Prada, The Princess Diaries, and I could go on reading this long list of ‘90s rom-coms.
However, life isn’t a late 90’s rom-com. Frankly, it takes more than a winged liner and a flat iron to turn that lackadaisical lifestyle around. It must be a habit of these scriptwriters to always give that as a rising action element. The cinematography tricks millions of us watching to believe that main characters can unrealistically change overnight. Therefore, so can we.
But, here’s what they don’t tell you. The honest answer of how long it takes to build a new habit is forever because if you stop then, it’s no longer a habit. Habits are a constant choice, whether we like it or not. The ball is always in our court, which was what prompted me to make a list of 5 habits I stuck with until I started feeling like the main characters in my long list of movies. I practiced these few core habits for 30 days that can serve everybody because it certainly served me well.
1. I Started Working Out Consistently
Exercise is the ultimate meta habit for me. Making it a point to squeeze at least 10-15 minutes of my day to do those bicycle crunches or hip abductions. This has taught me that working on my fitness is caring for my mind and body. I don’t do it daily, but I definitely do it consistently enough to feel energised each day. I feel like if I didn’t work out, I wouldn’t have known if I could handle the psychological rollercoaster without the physical outlet.
Now, I’m no medical practitioner. However, as a rule of thumb, I felt like it indeed improved my diet and overall mood. Now, I had something to look forward to each day. By placing this habit into a pattern that once used to feel like a chore. I can barely recall what it’s like to kick up a fuss with myself whenever the clock draws closer to my very forced and designated workout time, before I started being consistent with my workout frequencies.
This habit helped me to develop discipline and resilience. When push came to shove, it helped me to exercise this implicit feeling. As a result, I’ll have the same intuition to do the same when I perform other tasks throughout the day.
2. I Started Reading More
I never was able to find time in my day to pick up a book or at the very least narrow down my list of ‘Must Reads’. However, was I really too busy to read at least a few pages or was I using that time to watch reruns on TV? I crafted this habit to read more, making it an effort to exercise my analytical thinking. In turn, better my conversational skills. I definitely found myself reinforcing newer or stronger convictions and wider perspectives after I chose this small commitment
My favourite read ‘Clockwork Princess’ by the creative Cassandra Clare has allowed me to really articulate what I want to say. When reading is not accessible, I like to opt for Podcasts that also acts as an audiobook. This is where I can clear my heavy workload while maximizing my productivity. I find that listening to my favourite Podcast on true crime by Casefile Presents on Spotify gives the same effect as reading a book.
I get so inspired by characters that I find myself trying to decipher each deep meaning to the quote-like dialogues. Almost as if I were living in the characters’ shoes. I would also be intrigued to learn more about the behavioural and instigative progression of a serial killer. Also, even the aspects of crime and delinquency. This habit ultimately helped me to broaden my horizons whilst I wind down before bed, fitting in some time to read.
3. I Gave Myself Deadlines
We are constantly bombarded with thousands of distractions everyday— ambient noises, active conversations with people around us, and even information overload from displays. It sends you off your tracks which sometimes may be a good thing to take a breather. However, for the most part, the deadline takes precedence.
When I started giving myself deadlines, it sent me working on my personal character right up my alley. I found that when I set a deadline for simple yet dreaded tasks such as doing the laundry or cleaning my room, I’m really just pushing myself to rise to the occasion.
Essentially, after completing a task before my own deadline means I get to take one small win. Therefore, I will subconsciously feel motivated to achieve a thousand other small wins throughout the day. Besides, we are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for. When we reap good habits, it becomes the development of our personal growth. Well, to me that already becomes a win in my books.
4. I Made My Bed
A quick and easy habit such as making your bed can have a profound impact on your life. What elicited my habit to straighten out my sheets and fluff up my pillows every morning was this talk given by the U.S. Navy Admiral, William H. McRaven. With an authoritative voice, he says, “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”
Notably, I always felt fenced in by my routines, priorities, obligations, and expectations of others that I spend too much time fulfilling. As I approach the end of the day, I collapse onto my bed. I would be telling my weary self that I’ll make my bed tomorrow. That procrastination goes on and on like a song that never ends.
However, when I start sticking to this resolution, I start my day feeling productive and accomplished. Moreover, all the while feeling efficient and disciplined too. Oftentimes, this feeling stretches further throughout the course of my day. So, I started slowly with a small habit like this one and rewired my brain to repeat small adjustments in my daily routine. It ultimately gave me some sense of pride and encouraged me to do other tasks. Now, I can proudly look back at the many tasks that I’ve completed throughout my day, just as Admiral William McRaven once reassured.
5. No means no
This habit came as the hardest one to accomplish and has been the most hard-pressed for me to lift my foot off the ground and take that first step. How often do we avoid saying ‘no’ when we truly want to?
We often do favours for others when we are already stretched too thin. I found that although I truly want to turn down a plan with a friend that I wasn’t too excited about, my unnerving decision-making limits my reply.
Often, I would stick with only the choices of agreement. These were, “Yes, I’ll be there” or “Sure, I can’t wait”. More times than not, it’s something that I would regret later on. However, to master the art of saying ‘no’, I started with a simple “I’d love to come but I’ll be busy”.
After a while, I was more transparent with others. This has made it easier to be true to myself and be true to what I need. When I conjure the power to say no, I’m simply showing that I am able to give the time and effort to a task that it deserves. So, I am doing it when I truly have the mental or physical capacity to do so. It is indeed a constant struggle for most of us, but we should lift our foot off the ground. Why not take that first step somewhere.
I think that our habits are the way that we embody an identity. Hypothetically, if each behaviour casts a vote on the type of person that we want to become. Thus, if we cast enough votes for that identity, we start to believe that about ourselves. In that way really, our habits provide evidence of our desired identity. Whether it be practicing something once for 30 days or a thousand times in a day, it leads to an automatic, learned, and ingrained repetition. This will be our habits, promisingly enough making us who we are.
If you are still interested to learn about helpful habits that you can apply in your life, check out this article that compiles a simple list of things you can do daily to help you stay consistently organised.