“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” – Carl Jung
Are you on track with your yearly goals? Do you constantly reflect on how you spend your time, and whether what you are doing really moves you closer to your goals?
As mentioned in my previous post, having a compelling, intrinsically motivating goal isn’t enough. It is just the beginning. You need to keep showing up, you need to persist, and have the discipline to do the reps so that the process becomes a non-negotiable. Goals require constant practice and taking baby steps usually, like fitness, music and language goals. There is no overnight success.
This is where habits come into play. Imagine how much quicker you can achieve those goals if you put in the reps every day like how you brush your teeth twice a day. To grow, improve and achieve your goals, you need strong, healthy habits. They are like the backbone of your life. Reflecting on my own life and my achievements, I’m summarising my top 5 personal growth habits that literally changed my life.
1/ Reflective journaling
Keyword: reflective. There is a difference between doing a brain dump and mindfully reflecting on your life. It took me around one year to learn the difference – and it’s game changing. If you only engage in output – vent your feelings to your diary and what not – you get the benefit of self-expression. That’s great, but it’s not enough. Journaling makes us more aware of what we are thinking and feeling. We can start analysing the reasons behind our behaviours and reflecting on whether we need to change our routines. For example, you might spot a pattern that you are always moody and unproductive when you scroll your phone first thing in the morning because you get depressed after reading the news. It is an obvious signal that you need to change your behaviour in order to get your emotions and performance back on track. From there, you can design your environment to change your habit (e.g. never bring your phone to your bed). Journaling helps us to be more aware and mindful about how we live and I regard it as a keystone habit. Interested in learning more about journaling? Read my post here about how journaling changed my life (and there’s a link to my journaling template!).
2/ Work out
Exercising is a fundamental habit that changes everything else in your life. It’s not just about training your body, but your mind as well. You will be able to focus on tasks and endure obstacles thanks to stronger resistance. You also get to sleep better, which affects your performance, memory and efficiency. Just start moving today!
3/ Keep learning
Don’t be that manager who is still operating on Windows XP (yes, both the brain and the work OS). People tend to become stagnant after certain age. Here’s the truth: real education starts after you graduate from college. Always be curious about things around you. Question and challenge how people do things. To make this a habit, I encourage you to read books or listen to podcasts in your area of interest. That might be both personal and professional education. Schedule time for learning. People always upgrade their phones and laptops, but how many of them upgrade their mindset and worldview regularly?
4/ Engage in meaningful hobbies
I’m a big fan of working on side projects. I believe that everyone has different hats and should never be tied to only one identity. When I had a corporate job, I was an accountant, but also a YouTuber, musician and language enthusiast. The learning part mentioned above does play a role here as well. The point is, you have a life to live outside work. Think about what gets you excited and makes you forget about time. Pro tip: everything becomes more meaningful when you do it with others. According to Adlerian psychology, every human being longs to feel useful to others. So go make some songs and put them out to the world with your bandmates. Go gardening with your family. Do some volunteering work. Ultimately, we all want to live a meaningful life and both your personal and professional aspects should contribute to that.
5/ Think about your future self often
To make exponential growth, you need to have a clear goal and process. Who do you want to be in the next 3, 5 and 10 years? What will your life be like? And how do you align your current life with that? Another question I often ask myself is: will my future self do what I’m doing now? This helps me filter out unimportant tasks and make better decisions. Life is too short for irrelevant stuff. Stop wasting time and start doing what really matters.
Live life on your own terms. Let your future self determine your current process. Prioritise health. And don’t forget to have fun in the journey 🙂