“Move toward your desired lifestyle one new habit at a time. Consider how you got where you are today. In that very same way you can get to where you want to be. The time-line is up to you.” -Thea Westra
You’ve finally made the big decision and created a vision for the lifestyle that you desire. It’s grandiose, isn’t it?
When you close your eyes and visualize, you can see, hear, and feel in your imagination the financial abundance, a healthy relationship with your intimate partner, a healthy and fit body, the career that you love, and a social life that’s fun and adventurous.
You’re overwhelmed with positive emotion and cannot wait to get started moving towards your dream.
Then, you open up your eyes, look around the room, and wonder how it’s all going to happen. Your desired life compared to your current life seems so far apart and a lot of work. You think, “Where do I start? There’s so much to do”. And what ends up happening is procrastination, or you taking action that doesn’t contribute to where you want to be.
I get it, really. Your vision is big – no it’s enormous – and you want it now. But where do you start?
Consider how you got where you are today. Let’s say, for example, you are a healthy person and recently completed a marathon race. Before you ran the marathon, an image of you running the race and completing it was held on the screen of your mind. You may have not been conscious of this, but nonetheless you knew exactly what you wanted: to finish the marathon.
However, holding the image of successfully completing a marathon was not enough. If that’s all you did, then the goal of finishing a marathon remains only as a thought. You needed to take certain types of consistent actions everyday to achieve your goal. Some of those actions may have been running every day, adopting a new eating lifestyle, working out at the gym, and becoming an early riser to fit the marathon training into your day.
The first month was hell: tired from waking up early and complete exhaustion from running everyday. However, you stuck with the plan and endured. At some point your training schedule, waking up early, and the new eating lifestyle became natural and “everyday”, as if it was always part of your life. When it came time to run the marathon, you were ready. It wasn’t a breeze – sore hamstring at mile 19 and having to walk a few miles – but you completed your goal of finishing the marathon. Nice work!
How did you do this? Your vision of completing the marathon was the starting point, but what made the goal happen were the habits you created.
Human beings are habitual beings.
When you do something over and over again for a period of time, it becomes second nature to you. To train for a marathon, you start running one mile. Then, once you’re used to running and completing a mile, you increase the running distance to two or three miles. Once that’s become easier, you increase the distance to six miles and you continue in this manner until the marathon is complete. If you miss a day of running and training, it even feels awkward and like the world is going to end if you don’t go for a run.
When it comes to your vision and desired lifestyle, you want to start by creating one new habit that will contribute and support your new desired lifestyle. Start small, as you do when you train for a marathon, and increase the habits and actions as your capacity grows.
One new habit at a time will get you where you want to be.
I know many people have an ideal financial lifestyle. You want to be financially abundant, and so do I. Imagine the possibilities with financial abundance: giving fully to others through your business or career, creating a bigger impact in the world, having comforts and luxuries, and helping millions of people in the world. Financial abundance helps facilitate those results.
So, where do you start? Anywhere. Somewhere other than what you currently do. However, preferably start with creating one new habit that moves you in the direction of financial abundance. If you’re not sure which habit to install, copy the habit from someone who already has what you want.
Maybe you realize that becoming an early riser will contribute to your financial abundance by giving you more time to work on a new business. Therefore, you form the habit of becoming an early riser to create more time in your life. You typically wake up at 7am every morning; therefore, the first week you create the habit of waking up at 6:30 AM; the next week you rise at 6AM; the third week you rise at 5:30 AM; and you continue in this manner until 5 AM is your default waking time every morning.
Once the early riser habit is successfully installed, you create a new habit that supports your financial abundance, which could be tracking every penny that comes as income and goes out as an expense. You continue the habit-forming-process with your entire vision and desired lifestyle. Soon enough, you will find yourself reflecting upon your vision statement and seeing that you are living the life of your dreams.
Habits are more powerful than goals. Habits that are aligned with your desired lifestyle act as support structures for sustaining that lifestyle. Goals are ideas that act as a map so you know where to go. If your focus is constantly on goals, then you’re chasing an illusive thought and it’s difficult to ever be satisfied or get what you want.
When you have a vision that is big and you don’t know where to start, successful people start by creating new habits. Figure out which habits will lead to your desired lifestyle, from where you are to where you want to be. The journey to your new life will be imperfect, so do not expect everything to go your way. Yet what habits do are shape and mold your life according to those habits.
Your job is to figure the habits that contribute to your desired lifestyle and stick with them.
This article was generously contributed by Nick Pfennigwerth, who used to help small business owners connect with their heart and larger vision so that they can make a difference and a healthy profit. At Big Heart Small Business, Nick applied his buddhist, spiritual, zen teachings into growing an authentic, heart centered business without the hype and strong arm tactics. Nick has now moved on to other things.