Human habits are funny. Not SNL-in-the-90’s funny, but the type of funny that makes you raise one eyebrow and shake your head a little.
We’ve historically persisted in not-so-good things, like bad relationships, negative self-talk, and exposing ourselves in public. And we quit the good stuff–like pursuing our passions and improving our lives.
After observing this phenomenon in my life and others’, I’ve come to one conclusion:
We only have so much power to persist in good habits. And if all your power is spent on being average, you’ll never persist in the things that can light up your life. I speak from firsthand experience.
(You can skip the story and go straight to the 5-minute life-changing exercise…but I recommend the story.)
How I Changed My Habits and Found Independence
My 18-25 life was a looooong series of suck. (I’d have to add another 12,576 “o’s” to accurately depict the length of my suck. My editor suggested I cut that true-to-life representation in favor of this explanation.)
I was addicted to TV, Facebook, cigarettes, partying, toxic relationships, feeling sorry for myself, and being dependent on everyone but me. I remember reflecting on my days at night—all the nothing—and I’d think, “What the heck am I doing wrong? Why can’t I just succeed?”
But looking back, my shit-fest was an inevitable byproduct of my shit habits.
What does your energy pie look like?
If our life-force energy were a pie, 97% of mine would’ve been eaten up by mediocre sh!t. And at 25, when I’d been sleeping on my mom’s couch for two years, jobless and hopeless, I had an epiphany:
“I can change my pie!”
*That epiphany had everything to do with listening to podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Experiment, and reading books by Tony Robbins and Zig Ziglar.
So I consciously shifted the ratio of my daily habits. I put a moratorium on mediocrity—like constant texting and social media. And I forced myself to do more of the every-day, eat-your-spinach type of stuff—reading, studying, creating, meditating, etc.
It turns out that what I had to create was valuable to others—everyone has something valuable—and I ended up selling my writing to websites and companies around the world. By today, at age 27, I’m independent through my passion—I’m on fire for living, and for inspiring people to change their lives.
I finally learned how to persist in the things that were good for me.
But my transformation didn’t happen instantly.
It took time and reflection to identify the activities that had made me average. Journaling was my saving grace. It also took a brain storming session every morning, where I’d commit to the broccoli (or avocado) activities—(depending on your power food—) that would energize my life.
As my energy pie shifted, my life improved commensurately. My depression and anxiety began to disappear. And I knew I was really on to something when I’d ask people how they were doing—“Oh you know, same old shit man”—and I’d think, “Are you serious? Of all the incredible shit that you can do, of all the mountains to climb, you’re stuck in same-old-shit?”
That incredulity happens when you clear out your crap habits and make room for extraordinary things.
And you can do that today.
The 5-minute exercise that will change your life forever
Get a pen and a notebook. (It’s okay, I’ll be here when you come back…) Now take an inventory of your daily habits–time spent on social media and TV, exercising, reading, creating, etc. Then mark each habit as a growth activity or a comfort. For most, the comforts will far outweigh the growth activities.
Now write down all the growth activities that you want as habits—exercising, making money through your passion, etc. Imagine how good you would feel living that kind of life. Visualize what life looks like when you’re constantly challenging and improving yourself in your relationships and in your career. Then ask yourself,
“Can I persist?”
It might be a resounding no right now. But when you take an X to every comfort that you have persisted in, your “Yes” gets a little bit louder. And after you’ve slashed 90% of your habitual comforts, your Yes will be loud–so loud that you’ll actually believe it. And that’s when you’ll persist in all the things that make life extraordinary.
So what are you waiting for? Examine your life! (Socrates, the father of self-improvement, highly recommends it.) Dump the comforts that hold you back. (Yes, even if they’re people.) And commit to the life-broccoli that you know you need.
Since tomorrow is granted, you’ll not want to delay this simple exercise for another minute. Start now. Stop reading this. … ? ….What are you still doing here? Go change your life!
Article originally appeared on MindBodyGreen.com