How to stick to good habits

Success is built over time with sustainable consistent effort.

Good habits play an important role.

A slight change in your daily habits can guide your life to a very different destination.

Making a choice that is 1 percent better or 1 percent worse seems insignificant in the moment, but over the span of moments that make up a lifetime these choices determine the difference between who you are and who you could be.

Success is the product of daily habits —not once-in-a-lifetime transformations.

James Clear, Atomic Habits

These are some things which worked for me in terms of cultivating good habits

1. Have a strong why

Everything in life has to be earned: Fit body, rewarding career and a house full of love.

Having a strong why anchors you and keeps you focused on your goals despite the difficulties.

What gives me the discipline to exercise 4 times a week? I moved near an elderly estate in the recent years.

I started to see people’s bodies start to fail and become much less mobile decades before death.

I do not wish for my life to end like this and decided to do strength training which is essential for anyone to be in the best shape possible in their last decade.

When I started work at AlphaSense, my why became stronger. I needed to be a peak performance. Having energy levels and cognitive abilities empowers me to seize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

2. Reduce friction

Many of the actions we take each day are responses to our environment.

To cultivate habits, I’ve started to design my environment to make it easier to get started on the things I want to do.

For example, I put my omega 3 pills next to my water dispenser. So when I drink water in the morning, I will see them and take them

I use ClassPass to schedule classes near my work and home (Attend classes for free in your first two weeks here)

The reverse is true. You can also adjust your environment to make it harder to get started on the things you don’t want to do.

3. Track your progress

I am a firm believer of tracking. It forces us to confront reality, which can be a wake-up call.

Maybe you realize you haven't walked as many steps as you thought, or haven't studied for as long as you planned.

This awareness can jumpstart action and get you back on track.

For my finances, I track it using a personal finance template (Please make a copy if you wish to use this free template).

Similarly, for my fitness, I use a fitness watch. The sense of achievement I get from logging activities and hitting my goals has been really powerful.

Snapshot from my Garmin App

4. Control your peer group

It is important to spend time mostly with the people we want to be like. We’re all susceptible to peer influence, good and bad.

There is a buddhist saying “Incense wrapped around incense smells of incense; a string binding fish smells of fish”.

My peers are largely similar to me, dabbling in interesting projects outside of work i.e. The Woke Salaryman (Finance), Handful of Leaves (Buddhism), Malaizai (Fitness).

All my close friends are driven in their career, exercise often, live intentionally and have strong Chinese values.

Sticking to a weekly cadence with a friend helps so much. When you link a habit to a social activity, you become accountable to your partner or group.

Knowing someone is waiting for you at the gym or park for your workout adds pressure to show up and follow through. This social pressure can be a powerful motivator, especially on days when you might otherwise skip.

ClassPass is a great app you can use to join different classes and go to different gyms with your friends.

5. Control your social media feed

Just like what you eat affects your body, what you consume mentally can affect your mind.

A steady stream of negativity can bring you down, while information and inspiration can motivate you.

By controlling what you take in, you can cultivate a more positive mindset.

I choose to follow less than 300 accounts. This forces me to be really strict about who I follow.

I mainly follow creators because they push me in the right direction and keep me in check. Follow them if you’d like good influence too: Jeremy Either, Sahil Bloom, Dr. Peter Attia, Chris Willix, Dan Go, Daren Liu, London Fitness Guy and Dr. Sean O’Mara.

Heng Xuan: Make a deliberate effort to define who you want to be

6. Make this part of your identity

A strong force in human nature is the need to stay consistent with our identity.

We have to intentionally define the person we want to be. From there, we can take the right actions that are consistent with this.

For example: I am respectful of others. This means I do not use my phone when we are in 1-1 conversations and will do my best to be on time.

Ali Abdaal shares a useful template on how you can do this.

Sticking to good habits is ultimately respecting yourself.

If you promised someone you love you will meet them at 7PM to exercise, you would. That is because you respect them.

Then why not extend the same respect to yourself?

Sticking to your commitments shows you that you're a trustworthy person.

This sense of accomplishment strengthens your self-respect.

Reflecting on what I shared and your own life goals - What is one action that you will take today?

Hit reply and let me know.

I am a Singaporean tech worker and content creator. Every week, I share ideas on how we can optimise our career; finance; health and relationships.

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