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Positive Habits - The Key to Improving Your Life

Did you know that habits are incredibly powerful tools for personal growth and success?

Think about the habits you have now and how they affect virtually every aspect of your life. Your weight and health are determined by your eating habits. Your relationships with people are determined by your social habits. Your success at work is determined by your work habits. You even have buying habits--just take a look around your house, and you will quickly see them. Our character, health, and virtually every aspect of our lives are indeed determined by our habits.

If you ask 10 people on the street what the word habit means, nine will tell you that a habit is a negative action that people do over and over again. Bad habits get all the press. Let’s look at the results of just one bad habit: smok´ng. Every year, over 400,000 people lose their lives to smok´ng-related illnesses in the United States. Imagine, then, the negative power that exists in just that one bad habit. It is staggering.

Now, I want you to think about an even greater power, a power that can bring you success, health, and happiness, a power for positive, permanent, and automatic personal growth: the power of positive habits. Let’s look a little closer at the meaning of the word “habit,” according to Random House Dictionary:

An acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.

Let me ask you a question: when is the last time you sat down and said to yourself, “Today, I am going to add a new habit to my life?” You have probably never said those words. As you read this article, you will see how easy it is to add positive habits to your life and the great power they have to improve it. Think about the words “almost involuntary.” This means that the habit is so powerful in your mind that it is almost unstoppable! With respect to bad habits like smok´ng, procrastination, and overeating, this is very bad. But with positive habits, this is very, very good.

Habits are Knowledge in Action

All of your habits are knowledge in action. You are probably saying, “That’s crazy. When I smoke a cigarette, it’s just because I want to.” Look a little closer. You will see that you smoked the cigarette because you had the knowledge that it would make you feel more calm. The key to improving your life is to acquire new knowledge that can be actionized into new positive habits.

What is a positive habit? A positive habit is simply a habit that produces positive benefits, actions, and attitudes that you want to acquire and make a part of your life. Why is there such great power in positive habits to effect change? Because habits, by their very nature, are automatic. After a period of time they can become permanent.

How do we go about adding new positive habits to our lives? It’s really quite easy. You simply begin repeating an action, attitude, or thought process every day for at least 21 days. Research has shown that an action that is repeated for a minimum of 21 days is likely to become a permanent habit. Remember that positive habits have positive benefits, and you will reap those benefits for as long as you maintain that habit. So, now that we know what positive habits are and how to acquire them, let’s look at some simple positive habits that will help you to improve your life right now!

Keep a Daily Journal

Keeping a daily journal is an extremely powerful, positive habit that will allow you to quickly track your daily progress toward reaching important goals in your life. It is amazing how quickly we forget things. If I asked you to describe detailed information about your health and activities from last Tuesday, chances are that you would be hard pressed to remember much. Can you remember what you ate? How many hours of sleep did you get? How much did you weigh on that day?

Why is a daily journal so important? Here are just a few of the benefits the positive habit of keeping a daily journal will provide:

* It reminds you of your goals and the actions you are taking toward them every day.

* It allows you to factually track your progress in reaching your goals.

* It provides detailed information such as dietary changes, calorie reductions, fat reduction, and so on.

* It helps build your self-esteem because you are able to see your progress as you get closer to your goals.

* It helps to paint the picture every day of who you are becoming.

* You can learn from your failures and turn them into opportunities if you can look back and see how you handled them.

To create an effective daily journal, keep a simple, short log of your daily activities, either on a notepad or using a word processing program on your computer. Each day, make short entries into your log: list such things as your attitude, emotions, diet, weight, goals, and responses to situations and conditions in your life. For example, if having a healthy heart is one of your goals, you will want to keep track of your cholesterol levels, your blood pressure, your diet, and your weight. More than likely, you can complete writing down the information in your daily log in one minute or less. Yet, in that one minute you created an important snapshot of data in your life. You see where you have been and how quickly you are moving toward your goals, and you can estimate when you will reach your goals. You now have important historical data that you can refer to as time goes by to help you track your progress.

The 4-D Habit

Another positive habit you can acquire that will make you instantly more productive is the 4-D habit. The 4-D habit increases your productivity by helping you prioritize daily tasks and get more done in a shorter period of time.

Each day, we are faced with new tasks that must be acted upon. Your boss calls you and asks you to prepare a sales report; your child calls and asks you to help with homework. There is a very simple formula to help you prevent work overload. Every time you are faced with a new task to perform, apply the four Ds, as listed below. You will find that your workload will be reduced as you apply this screening and decision making tool to each task. Decide on the most appropriate choice, and take action.

* Do It Now: take immediate action, do the task right away, and don’t procrastinate.

* Dump It Now: make a quick decision, and dump the task.

* Delegate It: give the task to someone else. Your time is valuable; make it a habit to work on tasks that you do best, and delegate the tasks that can be performed by someone else.

* Defer the Task: make an immediate decision to postpone the task to a later time. Make sure to schedule a time to complete it.

Remember, it only takes 21 days to acquire a new positive habit that can dramatically improve your life!

About the Author:

This article was written by Dan Robey, contributing author to "101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life." Dan is the author of the best-selling book "The Power of Positive Habits," which is published in 22 countries worldwide. To learn more about how positive habits can change your life, visit http://www.selfgrowth.com/products/positivehabits.html