How to work good habits into your routine

I went back to making swimming a five-day a week routine. I have never felt greater about a summer workout. As a kid, I swam consistently for years. I have been doing this regularly now for three weeks straight, heading into my fourth. Not only did I find that it improved my fitness level, but also had a positive impact on my mood and work productivity. I wondered why I ever stopped doing it all the time the way I used to.

Although it has just been three weeks now of consistent workout, I find it quite strange if I wanted to have an alternative plan on a weeknight. I find myself now scheduling my dinner and catch-ups with friends plans to the weekend so that it does not disrupt my workout routine. And this got me to thinking about motivation and forming habits, two important factors when managing your business.

Motivation is great. It gives you the push you need to chase your dreams and get some work done. It is what makes you want to wake up in the morning and head to the office early to start working on your business plan. But what is more important is taking that motivation and making it into a habit that you would stick to. It is not enough just to have it, but to consistently do something about it.

Motivating yourself to write 500 words a day is a good ­habit, so is dedicating an hour or so to your business plan and office layout. Do not depend on someone to motivate you. An acquaintance of mine only did something about her upcoming business when I had the time to sit with her and moti­vate her. When she was on her own, she got nothing done. Where does her business stand now? It is still on paper, because motivation did not stem from her. She depended on someone else to give it to her.

So here is what you can do to turn your motivation into a daily habit that would help you in achieving your goals:

Turn it into a daily practice. Not afternoon. Not night. It has got to be the first thing you do in the morning to get embedded in your mind all day long. It is normal to let self-doubt and people’s comments creep into our minds and discourage us from attaining our goals. Sadly, most of what a lot of people say to themselves is negative. Comments such as: “It won’t succeed”, “Who am I to think I could pull this off?” and “No one would invest in my business”. That is why you have got to constantly remind yourself otherwise and feed your brain something different. The key is to remember to remember. Once you become conscious of the thoughts that go through your mind, you will be able to shift your focus. Replace negative comments with positive statements that set you in the right direction and give you the push you need. Comments such as: “I am motivated and productive”, “My business idea is great and people would be interested in it”. Do this daily for three weeks at least, and you will be on auto-pilot.

Incorporate your habits into your daily schedule. By locking swimming in on a weeknight, and making plans on the weekend, I made sure that I stuck to my plans. Before I started my routine I also ensured that I left no room for excuses and I had everything I needed so that I do not delay this activity. Embed your motivation in your schedule. Make time for it in your ­diary. Make it a rule not to cancel on your dedicated time, no matter what. If it helps, tell your family and friends about your new routine so that they can also keep it in mind and push you right back on track if they find you astray.

With this in mind, do not overwhelm yourself with too many projects and habit scheduling or it can backfire and demotivate you altogether. Taking it one bit at a time goes a long way.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai


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