Successful people are simply those with successful habits. - Brian Tracy
Have you ever felt that you need to do better in life? Do you wish to change, but you’re not sure how and where to start? You are not alone. 😊
This is my journey to building successful habits that have changed my life. I am sharing my step-by-step strategies and real-life examples to motivate you to develop your own journey through the power of small wins, consistency, and flexibility.
If you want to learn more about me and why I started blogging, don’t forget to check out my previous post. 👌
🚀 Let’s dive right in!
In the past 3 decade being in tech, I learned so many tricks and productivity hacks to be more productive and efficient in what I do. I organically build set of daily habits and workflows, but as my responsibilities grow and I had to deal with lot more complex challenges, I knew I need to do much better.
Around six years ago, I started my journey by defining my new goals in life. Define the person I would be proud to be, the person I need to be. To do that, I knew I had to define my daily habits consciously and use them to improve my quality of life and become a better version of myself. The version that became my hero.
Do you remember Oscar 2014 (WOW It’s almost a decade ago 🤯) when Matthew McConaughey in his winning best actor speech talked about his hero? He said it best:
You see, every day, and every week, and every month, and every year in my life, my hero is always ten years away. I’m never going to be my hero.
I’ve never had a single role model. I’ve admired many people, but no one had all the characteristics that I would consider a hero! That’s why when I saw Matthew McConaughey’s speech, it resonated with me, and I realized I needed to build a hero of myself in 10 years. To do that, I need to build rock-solid habits.
How I Started?
I’ve been in AdTech for more than a decade. One of the main concepts early on, I had to master, was human behavior and habits because understanding Behavioral patterns and how habits work are crucial techniques that help you influence your target audience.
For me, it was a bit like creating my own advertising strategy. I had to imagine “Me in 10 Years” as the audience I wanted to reach, then figure out what habits and behaviors Future Me would need to have. That way, I could execute plan to influence Present Me to head in the right direction.
This was a typical Tetris Effect. Are you familiar with this concept?
The Tetris effect occurs when people devote so much time and attention to an activity that it begins to pattern their thoughts, mental images, and dreams. - Wikipedia
And that’s exactly how the Tetris Effect played out for me in this journey. I’ve spent so much time in the AdTech industry that I started seeing my own personal growth as an advertising campaign.
Define Target Audience
Just like in advertising, the first step was defining my target audience. And in this case, I needed to define who I wanted to be in 10-years a.k.a. my hero!
So, I came up a wishlist of who Future Me should be:
- True Entrepreneur
- Successful Advisor and Investor
- Healthy and in good Physical Shape
- Be Happy and Enjoy Life
- Empowering and Support Others
- Travel the World
Identify Audience Behavior
Next up, I had to put myself in Future Me’s shoes and figure out what kind of habits a person with those characteristics would have.
- Entrepreneurs are innovative risk takers who believe in themselves and never give up, constantly learning and adopt to market conditions, consumer preferences, and industry trends.
- Successful Advisors and Investors are always looking for opportunities to invest, monitor the technology landscape for emerging trends and opportunities, building relationships with VCs and PEs and understanding their strategy and goals, and constantly reaching out to potential investment or M&A targets and building a strong network of contacts in the technology industry leaders.
- Healthy people with good physical shape usually put higher priority to their health, set proper weight loss goals, eat healthier, create a balanced workout routine, properly hydrated throughout the day, and set better sleep schedule.
- Usually happy people who enjoy their lives, properly managing stress and priorities, build healthy social relationships, incorporate meditation and mindfulness practices into their daily activities.
So, looking at these behaviors, I pretty much figured that I needed to master these habits:
- Healthy Diet
Define Execution Plan
So, knowing who I want to be, what behaviors I should adopt, and which habits I need to develop, I started defining the execution plan to change Present Me to Future Me.
Just like setting up a programmatic advertising campaign, I started small. I kept a close eye on my plan and used my key metrics to tweak things as I went. That data-driven approach was a game-changer, showing me what was working and what needed a rethink.
Plan the First Habit
I knew trying to do it all at once is not sustainable. So, I had to decide on the most crucial habit to kick off with. For me, Workout habit was a no brainer. My health wasn’t in a good shape at the time and I really needed to adopt to more active lifestyle.
To make it ridiculously easy to start, I decided to set a 5-minute workout goal, BUT I promised myself to do it at whatever cost and I should not miss even one day!
Setup Measurable Metrics
Lucky for me, keeping track of my workout metrics was super simple thanks to my Apple Watch and Smart Scale. They kept a record of everything from my weight and workout minutes to my heartbeat, calories burned, steps walked, body fat, protein levels, and muscle mass.
Track and Optimize
I paid attention to my workout metrics and find out that a steady heartbeat of 140 bpm worked best for me. So I optimize my plan aiming for a minimum of 140 bpm during my 5-minute workout. I also noticed I could easily drop half a pound a month with this routine, so I increased my daily workout to 10, then 15 minutes, all aimed at losing that 0.5 pounds monthly.
Prepare for Next Habit
About two months in, I’d built a solid workout habit and was always looking for ways to improve. That’s when I decided to tackle my second habit. Given I was already being more mindful about what I ate, taking on a healthy diet seemed like the next natural step.
I continued the same workflow of Planning, Measurement, and Optimize until each habit became a part of my daily norm.
What I Learned
I quickly realized that building habits is certainly much easier said than done! To make my journey smoother, I began exploring different techniques around habit formation when I discovered several strategies that were really effective for me.
When trying to create multiple new habits at once, you are putting too much pressure on yourself which will create stress and anxiety that prevent you to build a healthy or consistent habits. I kickstart my journey by adding just one habit at the time and make sure I can commit to it 100% before adding more. I would suggest to start with habit related to your most important goal or objective first. For me it was workout which I had enough reason to stick with my plan.
Start so small that it feels so crazy not to do it! For instance, when I planned to add a workout habit, I started only 5 min per day and told myself if I cannot allocate just 5 min per day to my health then it is not the life worth living!!! I even break down 5 minutes to 5 one minute workout! So crazy not to do it, right?
Keep track of all my habits and accomplishments, no matter how small they seemed! You can use the tracked metrics for a more data-driven approach to optimizing habits and ensuring you are on the right track.
I also discovered that small wins help me build accountability and trust. When I started recognizing all the small wins, I realized that everything is possible if I start small! That mindset changed my life.
I promised myself that I would stick to my new habits every day. This helped me build a very strong discipline in my life that not only assisted me with my daily habits but also in many other aspects of my life.
I have found that attaching my existing habits to new ones makes it much easier to adopt these new habits. For instance, I have had a habit of reading tech news every day for the past 15+ years. When I started reading books, I discovered that if I read a book right before my daily tech news, it becomes much easier to do.
Some habits can be combined to not only save time but also make both habits easier to do. For example, habits like walking or prepping healthy meals pair up pretty well with other activities. I often enjoy listening to an audiobook or a podcast while walking, or practicing mindfulness while preparing healthy meals.
It’s very important to start small or with just one or two habits because it’s exhausting to kickstart so many habits at the same time and even harder to be consistent about it. As I mentioned before, I wasn’t afraid to switch things up as needed. I would tweak my workout routines, link habits together, and sometimes drop one completely if it wasn’t working for me. Being flexible can make a big difference when we’re trying to make these habits stick.
Each individual is different and needs to take a unique approach to productivity! What works for me may not necessarily work for you, so don’t attempt to replicate my exact journey in building my habits. Instead, it should provide you with ideas on how you can develop your own journey.
In my next blog post, I will share my detailed daily habit plan, which is the result of many years of research, learning, studying, and adjusting based on my own personal experience. Follow me on X or LinkedIn to get notified when it gets published. Stay tuned.
And finally, I want to finish this post with a quote that really resonates with me, and I hope it motivates you to start your journey:
We first make our habits, then our habits make us. - John Dryden