How To Build Momentum

The hardest time on a project is the very start.

Everything is new to you. Your first reaction is nearly always apprehension. You do this naturally because of an ingrained fear of the unknown.

 

Unknown = fear

Picture this.

You've just been moved to a new role on a different project in work. You know nothing about it. You become defensive almost immediately. You think it will be harder than your last project and your previous role. You feel like you just aren't getting it.

You fear you won't do well, which means you'll loose your job, which means you can't afford your house, which means your family will leave you, which means you'll be all alone in this world.

You tell your boss about your fears in the hope that she will respond by moving you back to your comfort zone. The thought of the unknown keeps you awake at night. Its the first thing you think about in the morning. It's a bad time for you.

You start looking for a new job just in case the worst happens.

 

Habit = fearless

In meantime you try to make the best of a bad situation. You get some training and you're given tiny pieces of work. You complete them successfully and on time. Then gradually through repeating this process, you begin to feel slightly less uncomfortable. The work gets a bit easier as the days go on. You answer a question or two without running to your mentor.

You've lost that initial fear.

You feel a slight confidence as people start to recognise you as someone that can help. You're of use. Pretty soon you attend meetings and offer advice.

You are by no means an expert, but someone mistakenly identifies you as one. However, it turns out you are able to answer their questions. You lived into someone else's perception of you. You no longer defer to a colleague. You're confident there is little that can trip you up now. You've become a subject matter expert. You have built momentum.

You have started to roll.

 

Start rocking. The roll will follow.

Building momentum can take time in the beginning, but it will lead to the creation of good habits eventually. Most people don't get this far. This is because the start is the hardest part and also the easiest time to give up. Results are rarely seen in the first throws of effort. Nor in the second, third, forth and fifth. They take time and repeated, unrewarded effort. You need to trust that your effort is making a difference. You can't see it yet, but you will. Once the process becomes a habit, you'll find success.

First you rock the bolder. If you rock long enough and with the right technique, it'll start moving forward. The more it moves the less effort it will take. Once habits are in place they become unforced and natural. The bolder starts rolling without much effort at all.

 

Here are 5 things to help you build momentum

1. Belief. Nothing great in life is built without a belief that the effort will all be worth it. Lives are taken and saved everyday because of our beliefs...it's a powerful thing. So believe in yourself and your daily habits and you will harness that power to build your own momentum.

2. Grit. Life is tough. Starting out is tough. Making a difference is tough. Show some grit. Grit is more than just displaying resolve. It's about facing the grind and in perverse way enjoying it. Show grit over a long enough period and you will get everything you want.

3. Pause. What ever you're doing right now stop. Have a reality check. Evaluate where you are. It may feel you are not making any headway but trust that you are. Think about what you have achieved so far. Celebrate the tiny moves you have made. Know that it only gets easier with time, repetition and putting good habits in place.

4. Strip. Not literally, and especially not if you're reading this on the 8.15 to Waterloo. Go Back to basics. Strip back anything you don't need physically and mentally. It will let you focus solely on your effort to get your project moving forward. It's like using a magnifying glass instead of a greenhouse to start a fire. 

5. Patience. One day at a time. You need to think small steps. In fact, forget that advice, you need to think tiny steps. You might not be able to make a difference in a day, a week, a month or maybe even a year. But have patience. Be confident in yourself and don't panic. Plan your habits, take action everyday and then reflect on what you have done. 

 

Once you get your first boulder rolling, you'll never be the same again. When you come up against the next boulder, you'll know that all it takes is a bit of repeated rocking and the roll will follow. 

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Happy Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day in the UK (in the US it's the second Sunday in May). It's a time to spoil your mum and tell her how much you appreciate her. However, why does it only have to be one day a year? Why not make a habit of treating your mum throughout the year. Here's how you can do it:

 

1. Set yourself a reminder - once a week send your mum a message or give her a ring. Just let her know you were thinking about her and how much she means to you. This weekly contact doesn't take much effort and will go a long way to reassuring her that she's always in your thoughts. It'll make you feel good too!

2. Give a gift - why not get in the habit of giving your mum a little present every week. We're not talking about something big or expensive. Just make it personal. If she's interested in celebrity gossip, buy her a magazine. If she like's the beach, go collect some shells for her. Make her a card, print her a photograph. Less money more effort!

3. Bake her something nice - regardless of your culinary skills, your mum will always appreciate the effort put into making something for her, even if it's totally inedible. Why not bake some buns then go round for a cup of tea and a catch up.

4. Foot loose - as your mom get's older, she'll appreciate a regular foot rub. You could also give her a mini pedicure whilst your there. You'll bond over skin to skin contact and you can also spend the time chatting.

5. Fix something - there is always something to fix about the house. Sometimes these jobs just go undone, especially if your parents are older. Give them a hour a week and offer to do any of those jobs they just aren't able to do anymore.

6. Don't forget grandmothers - if you are lucky enough to have living grandparents, you should make the same effort with them. Take them somewhere they wouldn't be able to get to. Every Friday I take my Nannie shopping at the local grocery store. She can get there herself, but with me tagging along she can get all the heavy things she normally avoids on her own.

 

The habit of connecting with loved ones is special and so important. Add it to your list of things to do every week and you won't regret it. A two minute phone call costs next to nothing but is priceless and something you'll be glad you started doing.

 

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Habit Journaler of the Week

Name: Phil Martinez

About: 28 yr. old musician, professional driver, author and owner of Cool Drummings Publishing Co.

Best Habits: Getting plenty of rest, drink water almost exclusively (no sodas), visualize my next day every night before going to bed, controlling my emotions, writing down all of my plans for projects I'm working on, recording every time I play music with other people.

 
Worst Habits: Using my PlayStation too much, Little Caesar's Deep dish pizza (and they just added bacon...), sitting too much, being a night owl (which works well for me, minus the absence of daylight for physical tasks).


Dream Goal: I have a lot of dreams goals, but I like to take one at a time and use it to help make my future goals become a reality. My agenda in my life right now is to live as independently as possible; no bills, no expenses, no debt, while creating creating good changes for the planet. To get there I am making habits of deciding to be a producer instead of a consumer more often, living frugally, living in a smaller space than I ever have, giving things I don't need to people who do, taking account of every single resource I use and making healthy habits to reduce those needs, recycling and eliminating waste creation as much as possible, adding value to other people's lives, and choosing to want less yet do more. I'd also say my next big dream goal is to start a recycling plant in my home town in the next 7 years. In order to get to that point, some serious steps will need to be executed, including a lot of hours engineering the way the facility will run, executing a successful venture capital campaign, and slowly changing the waste making mentality our south Texas culture follows today. I believe that once schools, companies, and individuals in my area realize that their waste streams can be converted into savings, it'll be a no brainer; but a lot of things have to be done to get there. After that, my next dream goal will be to plant 1 million trees by 2030. How? Afforestt.com  


You can check out Phil's current dream goal of funding his project on Indiegogo:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-bus-project-a-sustainable-living-movement

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10 Springtime Habits To Start Right Now!

Spring is here...well almost

The 20th March is the Vernal Equinox. 

No, we had never heard of it either. It marks the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator, which is the imaginary line which runs south to north in the sky above the Earth’s equator. In other words, it's the start of springtime. And what better time to pick up a few new habits. Here are 10 of them to get you in the mood:

 

1. Clean up - there is nothing like a good old spring clean to welcome in the fairest of the seasons. Do it right though. Start throwing out before you tidy. Ask yourself "Do I really need this?". If the answer is no, chuck it. Be ruthless and you will feel liberated and refreshed when you're done. You can also start this habit in work. At the end of every day, clean your desk. When you come into the office the next day, you'll have a clear mind and feel much more organised for the day ahead.

2. Take up a new hobby - work out how much spare time you have and what you are genuinely passionate about. Then take up a hobby that fits the bill. You'll meet new people and gain a sense of achievement by learning something new. The better weather allows for a broader range of hobbies to take up. Why not join a nature walking club. If you can't find one then start the club yourself. Use meetup.com to spread the word.

3. Learn the lingo - if you're planning a summer holiday to somewhere exotic, why not try to learn the local language. Basic holiday lingo can be easily picked up in the few months of before you go. There are so many free resources to learn a new language, just do a search on Youtube for beginner videos. You'll feel more confident on your vacation and the natives will appreciate the effort.

4. Buy some new gear - spring is the perfect time to start a new fitness regime. To help with this, go buy some new running shoes and maybe a tracksuit or two. Then wear them. This will get you in the right mindset for exercise. Even if the exercise is a few jumping jacks or a 20 minute stroll every morning, you'll immediately feel better.

5. Get a whiteboard - with the brighter mornings coming in, you are going to have more hours to play with. So let's get organised. Get a planner - white or blackboard depending on your preference. Mount it on your kitchen wall and start using it to plan your meals, catchups with friends and any other appointments you have throughout the week.

6. Buy flowers - having flowers in the house is a proven way to lift your mood. It will brighten your living space and introduce nature into your home. Make them smelly for an added sensory turn on.

7. Drink twisty water - have you spent the winter drinking hot chocolate and red wine? It's time to get properly hydrated by drinking more water. Add a twist of lemon, orange or cucumber for an even fresher taste. Bring a bottle with you everywhere you go. Then get in the habit of sipping every so often.

8. Get green fingered - gardening is no longer just a pastime for the retired. Start a vegetable patch, herb garden or plant some roses. It's therapeutic and will get your heart pumping. You'll also be able to start eating healthier as a result of all those peas and carrots.

9. Go to bed - ok so the days are longer and the nights are lighter. It doesn't mean you should stay up past your bedtime. Go to bed early. Your body and mind will thank you in the morning. Set a time and stick to it every night. 

10. Get to work - summer is synonymous with exams. If you're a student, this is the time to get your head down and start studying. It's not too late but you need to come at it with 100% effort. How would you feel the day after your exams finish if you are just doing what you did before the exams? Put the effort in now and the post exam celebrations will be so much sweeter.  

 

As with all new habits it's essential you start tracking your habits and reflecting on your progress. Use The Habit Journal to do this and you'll make this spring the most productive and exciting you've ever had!

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Taking Your First Step


When was the last time you set yourself a goal?
Last month? Last year? Never?

Goal setting is an integral part of life, but most of the time we don't even realise it's happening all around us. The reason for this is because your goals are probably being set FOR you, rather than BY you.

When you were a child, your parents had aspirations for you and tried to guide you in that direction. When you were in school, your teachers had expectations of you through homework and exams. Now you're working, it's your boss that is setting your goals through performance reviews and targets. But why is everyone else setting goals for you?

It's because you are part of their goals. Your parents wanted you to do well in life because a successful child reflected well on their parenting skills. Your teachers wanted you to excel because it validated their teaching skills. Your boss wants you to perform well in work because it ensures the survival and profitability of the company. In fact, any goal set for you rather than by you is not for the benefit of you at all.

This is why you must set your own goals. But where do you start if you've never set a goal before?

You start with the first step. The Habit Journal has space for 12 goals and one dream goal. I would be amazed if anyone who has never set a goal before (probably more of us than you think) is able to fill all the slots. But the thing is you don't have to come up with 12, you just need 1 to get started. And I have the ideal goal for anyone wanting to ease their way into goal setting and habit tracking:

Goal #1: Use the Habit Journal for one session

The benefits to you from achieving this goal are huge. Making the journal a habit in itself is laying the framework for something bigger. Once you complete this goal you'll find coming up with the next 11 will be a lot easier.

I have my goal, now what?

Here's the easiest way to use The Habit Journal for the first time. Take a pen and write your goal on the 4 week plan page. Then put the pen down because you are done. Don't fill in any other habits. Why? Everything you need to get started with the journal is already pre-printed. These are called the foundation habits. They are habits that you should try to practice every day. They will enable you to gradually build improvement into your life from day one. After the first 4 week session, you should be well on your way to using the journal to track your habits daily. You can then start coming up with new goals and habits for the remaining sessions.

Before you know it, you'll be the boss setting goals for others.

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Proof The Habit Journal Works

Over the last 4 weeks we've had various questions, including:“is the journal waterproof?” [if you’re wondering, no it is not] and “will it help me stop picking my nose in the car?” [I assume this one was a joke, but the answer is still yes*]

But 3 questions that seem to crop up the most are: 

1. Does the journal work?

2. Will it work for me?

3. What are your plans after Kickstarter?

I’ll answer 2 and 3 first:

Will it work for me? 

I don’t know, but I know someone that does…you. I’m like a broken record when I tell people that it’s not a magic book. The hard work needs to be put in by you. You’ll need to trust in yourself to stay committed long enough to reap the rewards. But if you do, it can and will be life changing for you. This always reminds me of the cartoon below - someone who starts out practicing better habits and after a month of hard work gives up because they aren't getting the rewards. Habits take time to stick, but once they do you’ll be glad you kept at it.

 

What are your plans after the Kickstarter? 

This was a question asked by several blogs and a national paper (The Sun). They wanted to know what the future was for The Habit Journal. This was our answer:

100% of the focus is getting the journal into the hands of our backers. Once this is completed, we will be concentrating on our site. It’s currently set up as a traditional ecommerce site. However we want to move away from this, to more of a community style site. It will be used as a resource for advice, tips, articles, guest posts, how tos and shared experiences for anyone using The Habit Journal to change their life. Why do we want to build a community of habit tracking, goal achieving, life changing awesome people? 

Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit (highly recommended reading) explains it nicely:“When people join groups where change seems possible, the potential for that change to occur becomes more real”

Ok, now for the big one:

Does the journal work?

This is the question I've faced from the minute I started sharing the journal and the tracking technique. My answer has really only ever been based on my own personal experiences with using it and the progress I've made. No, I’m by no means wildly successful. I still work my 9-5. I still drive a ’99 Volkswagen. I still have the same friends and do some of the same things I did before starting the journal. At the same time, I’m a completely different person with a different outlook on the world and everyone in it. So thank you for this Oscar….oh wait wrong speech…right I’ll cut to the chase. 

Here is how I can prove The Habit Journal works:

I USED THE HABIT JOURNAL TO ACHIEVE MY GOAL OF MAKING THE HABIT JOURNAL A SUCCESS

Reread that line.

I know The Habit Journal works, because I used it to help get funding for it.

At the start of the year I set myself a goal of sharing the journal with everyone. Up to this point, it was really only family and a few friends who had been using a version I’d created for them. I opened my journal and added this to my goal list: Do a Kickstarter and get funded. I then used this goal as my focus for January and came up with the following habits that I thought would help me achieve the goal:

  • Contact 5 blogs a day 
  • Share and get Feedback on prototype (45 mins) 
  • Finalize designs (60 mins) 
  • Contact 5 manufacturers a day 
  • Practice copywriting (45 mins) 
  • Work on website (60 mins) 
  • Research Kickstarter projects (60 mins) 
  • Draft Kickstarter page (20 mins) 
  • Downtime 8-9pm (Mary and Seb) 

I began tracking these at the start of January in preparation for the campaign, which I planned for February. By doing this however, I was ready to launch earlier than I thought and the project went live on 21st January, 3 weeks after tracking my new habits. Within 3 days, we’d reached our funding all thanks to you guys – and I had achieved my goal!

*If you suffer from this particular habit, here is the rest of the answer I gave:

  • Identify what triggers you to pick your nose…for example it might be sitting in traffic, or driving on the motorway. 
  • Now identify the reward you get from picking your nose…it might be you keep your hands busy, or you get to groom yourself. 
  • Finally, identify what habit you could develop instead of picking your nose that would still have the same trigger and reward…it could be running your hands through your hair (grooming and keeping your hands busy) 
  • Now every time the trigger occurs, run your hands through your hair. Keep track of your progress and any relapses you may have.

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Dream Goals

 

A few weeks ago I was babysitting my nephew.

I say babysitting, he’s fourteen years old, nearly 6 foot tall and can grow a beard Moses himself would be proud of.

 

The conversation rambled through the usual teenager topics. Girls, football…well, actually that was pretty much it. I then asked him what he wanted to do with his life? I expected a shrug of the shoulders and the default answer adopted by most teenagers in response to this question… “dunno”. However, he went all squirmy, sighed and in an embarrassed tone said:

“Well, I want to be a professional golfer…but dad says that's not going to happen and that I should start working harder in school”

 

I didn’t really know what to say without stepping on his father’s toes, so I said nothing. The day after I was still thinking about his comment and I decided to send him a text (obviously, what else is a phone for). It went like this:

 

 

So often, our parents/ teachers/ coaches/ bosses tell us to keep our goals realistic and achievable – but why? Most of the goals we set are naturally achievable anyway, that’s just how we’ve been conditioned to think. So why not add a Dream goal into the mix. What’s the worst that could happen? You’ll still pick up some really good habits even if you never reach your goal.

 

Just remember, Dream goals are just like any other goal – i.e. completely useless if you’re not committed to working on your day to day habits.

 

Think how the world would look today if the following people decided their dream goal wasn’t realistic enough and gave up on it:

  • Steve Jobs – dreamt of putting a computer in the hands of everyday people:

have the courage to follow your heart and intuition’
  • John F Kennedy – dreamt of his country putting a man on the moon:

We need men who can dream of things that never were and ask "why not?"'
  • Albert Einstein – dreamt of making a difference to future generations through scientific discover:

'If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.'
  • Rory McIlroy – my fellow Ulsterman dreamt of becoming the number 1 golfer in the world: 

‘I want to try to become the best golfer in the world.’

 

 

In The Habit Journal, we encourage you to find 12 goals to focus on this year…but if you look closely, there’s one final line marked with a star.

 

Use it to add your dream goal…or if you want to listen to those that say it's not going to happen, don’t fill it in.

 

 

And finally a video of a young man showing everyone the daily habits he decided to practice in order to reach his Dream Goal...whatever happened to him?

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How (not) to write your first tweet

It's your big moment.

140 characters to grab someone's attention and keep them interested long enough to convince them that yes, your product is #amazeballs. The first post on Twitter is key for a new venture. You need to make it a mix of interesting, funny, clever and intriguing. You want to leave your meagre handful of followers wanting more. You want them baying for the next taste of your tweet tweet blood (as you can probably tell, I had the funny part sewn up already with material like that). 

So when I was thinking about my first post for The Habit Journal, I researched some of the best first tweets in twitterland and came up with these 3.

1. @barackobama: Barack Obama's first tweet was historic, informative, gave hope and instilled confidence:



2. @charliesheen:Charlie Sheen's first tweet predictably included his strap line: 



3. @aplosk: Ashton Kutcher is a complete twitter junkie and usually has plenty to tweet about. His first tweet though, was a simplistic no nonsense affair:


So research done, I opened notepad and confidently mocked out my first informative and simplistic tweet, which included the all important strap line. This is how it looked:

"Hi everyone, just to let you know, we've launched TheHabitJournal: Choose your habits change your life. Check us out at thehabitjournal.com"

140 characters exactly. I was chuffed. Now just to wait for the right moment to click send and sit back as the follower counter went ballistic. However, whilst I was killing time I happened upon this tweet from the telegraph:

Soon I was wrapped up in the pandamonium (sorry) and without thinking had submitted my first professional tweet as @thehabitjournal. This was it:

#whoops

Yes I'd cocked up. Yes for my product launch I'd tweeted a picture of my son in a panda suit instead of the carefully constructed promotional blob of blurb above. Yes it had the opposite effect I was looking for, no new followers, no comments, no favourites, no tagline, no message of hope...did I regret it? 

No. Who knows, when someone else is doing research on famous first tweets in a few years time, maybe Sebastian's picture will be up there sandwiched between Barack and Charlie.

 

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