Updated: Aug 18, 2021
“There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.” Zig Ziglar
This article is an excerpt from Thriverapp and Mindhabit’s "Create Healthy New Habits (CHNH) Foundation Course" found in our 3-Steps to Happiness Program.
I'll be giving you a quick summary of each “Habit P”, and a tip on how to leverage each to give yourself the best chance of successfully embedding new habits. The "5 P's" are only part of the puzzle, however, a pretty important part. They are: Purpose, Process, Progress, Practice and Patience.
Don’t forget to align your new habits and behaviours with your ‘why’, i.e. your purpose. This will help you make your new habits stick. Creating "purpose-led" habits that are connected to your values means that they are much more likely to be enjoyable and interesting. Enjoyable and interesting habits are easier habits. Easier habits rely less on motivation and willpower to "stick".
"Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose." Victor E. Frankl
TIP: If you are reading this and saying to yourself; "But I don't have a purpose?" Remember that your purpose doesn't have to be (and probably shouldn't) saving the world or launching the "next big thing". Don't set the bar too high with your purpose, and stick to a more abstract values-based purpose if you can (which you can). FYI, often purpose statements, or what we call Personal Vision Statements, are about how you want to live, not what you do for a living. They usually include an element of who you're going to add value to. For example, your Personal Vision Statement could simply be: "To support the growth of my family through my contribution, attitude and actions." Or: "To empower youth and inspire success through teaching."
Importantly, with either of these purposes above you should be able to see that what you do for a living, where you live, and how much money you make has zero impact on your ability to create habits and behaviours that are aligned with your purpose. I’ll use the last Personal Vision Statement (empowering and inspiring youth through teaching) as an example. Let’s say you’re a dad who’s an accountant by day. You can still inspire youth through teaching by:
Mentoring some of your younger colleagues
Volunteering to teach and train at a local club/sports team
Enrolling in a course yourself (learning is one of the best ways of teaching)
Inspire your own kids through your actions (that last one might just be the hardest!)
So, there are four relatively easy ways an 'accountant by day', can live more aligned with his purpose.
For this first P, I've spent a bit more time on it because it’s the one that I get asked about the most often. I also think that there are lots of people out there who misunderstand what a purpose should actually be. This misunderstanding then means that unfortunately they don’t even start looking for their own purpose. Check out this Bonus TIP below, which should give a few of you a nudge...
Bonus TIP: Once you figure out your purpose and core values, and start living more aligned with both, you'll uncover one of the "secrets" to living with more energy and less stress. The "secret" is that you don't have to change anything about what you do, you simply have to change your perspective, and how you go about "it" to live with more purpose.
A real world example is that I am living with less stress today, because I know that I am a better parent than I was about a year ago, having crystallised my purpose and core values. Most parents will have a core value that is tied to their family, and mine is; "Putting my family above all else". So, how does knowing this core value give me more energy (kids give you so much energy right?😉), and help me live with less stress?
Simply put, I use this core value as a "prioritisation and perspective tool", which is how core values should be used.
Understanding, and importantly reminding myself every day, that putting my family first is one of my five core values, helps me make decisions and prioritise where I spend my time and energy. I find that more often than not I am using this tool in the "work and family juggle". Or is that "jungle"?
So when work pressures are piling up by reminding myself of this core value it puts things in perspective, and helps me focus more on where I should be focused. Does it work all the time? Nope. And do I get it right all the time? Sh#t no, just ask my kids...
But I do know (and more importantly believe) that by simply reminding myself of this core value, I am parenting better now than I was last year. And that in and of itself, helps me manage my stress levels better.
Speaking of focus, by focusing on creating the right process, system and environment, to help you drive positive behaviour change in your life, you will achieve more in a shorter timeframe. If you focus on the present, your processes and system, rather than the end game (Open Goals help here) you will be more successful. And importantly don't forget to be a little flexible and agile, and have some fun on the journey, as you practice putting your new habits into place. Don't take yourself too seriously, or be afraid to switch and tweak your new micro habits* after a few days, or even a couple of weeks if you’re not ‘feeling it’.
"It's only when you make the process the goal that the big dream can follow." Oprah Winfrey
TIP: Focusing on the process is a stress reduction technique that is super-simple but not always easy. When people create SMART future-focused goals, too many times they stress themselves out, and become anxious about the gap between the "end game" result they're aiming for (the SMART future-focused goal they don't have full control of) and where they are today. Instead, if you focus on the process - the daily actions you have full control over - you will perform better. In nearly every case you will also achieve your future goal faster if you stay focused on the process, rather than wasting energy stressing out about the future.
Speaking of forgetting about your goals, make sure you remember to focus on, and celebrate, achieving some smaller milestones as you embark on your journey. Particularly if you have a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), by using a strategic planning staircase model and rewarding your progress as you achieve some short-term milestones / goals, you will stay motivated for longer as you work towards achieving your BHAG.
"Slow progress is better than no progress." Unknown
TIP: When completing your new habit in your Habit Stack*, after each Implementation Intention make sure you celebrate. This is what we call a "Celebration Moment", and it gives your brain a burst of dopamine to help reinforce the reward in your habit loop. There's plenty more info on Celebration Moments and Rewards on the CHNH Course, for now just remember that a burst of dopamine makes you and your brain feel good (feeling good helps make new habits stick!
As the old saying goes; “practice makes progress”. It's important to keep reminding ourselves that nearly all world-class performers have got where they are today first and foremost through how they practice, and the hours they spend practising. Sure talent and skill will get you part of the way, however, it's your effort and how you make that effort that really counts! That is why Day-1 of our Five-2-Thrive 14 Day Habit Challenge* is a practice day only, and if you want you can view the whole 14 Day Challenge as one big practice session.
"If you don't practice you don't deserve to win." Andre Agassi
TIP: For nearly all of us, purposeful practice** is the best way to improve. Part of practicing with purpose is creating feedback. When practicing anything you should create "feedback loops". At a high-level this is simply so you can review what is working and what's not, and then adjust your practice regime accordingly. One of the simplest feedback loops you can create is keeping a practice journal (paper or electronic), and at the end of each practice session note down what worked well, and not so well. For your next practice session, start by focusing on the "not so well".