Our daily habits affect every aspect of our well-being. Work-life balance, sleep, overall health, and your mindset can be affected by stress or a lack of a consistent routine. With New Year’s resolutions in the rearview mirror, the beginning of spring can be a wonderful time to assess your daily actions and consider if they are contributing to your goals or preventing you from living the life you want. In short, you cannot master your life until you master your habits. If you have been wondering how to live a more purposeful life, keep reading to find out how a shift in your habits can help to get you there.
Start with Tracking
While many of us may think we know exactly what we do on any given day, without a clear record of activities it is impossible to create an accurate picture. Tracking your daily activities can be tailored to what works best for your lifestyle. A simple notebook, template, or printout from specialty sources online or an app can help you to accurately measure or account for your time.
Just as elite athletes track their performance to achieve desired outcomes, the average person can also benefit from tracking their habits. Some areas that you can consider tracking include your mood or state of mind, health metrics like weight or blood pressure, sleep, and spiritual practices such as prayer or meditation. Other lifestyle categories can be more individualized, such as water intake, time spent reading or practicing a hobby, and family time. Color coding can help to visually organize these various metrics and make them easier to process down the road, and there are plenty of smartphone apps available that can help you to track your habits if you prefer digital tracking.
Crunch the Numbers
Once you have a good sample set of data from your tracking—two weeks is good, but a month is better—take a hard look at the numbers. What is out of balance?
If you color-coded your journal or tracker, take a look at the rainbow before you. For example, is red the predominant color? If red is how you are tracking stress, and you notice that blue for meditation is only marked once in a month’s span, then that is an easy visual cue to give you some insight into how what you do can affect how you feel.
Or, if you logged your activities in terms of hours, does reading three hours a week make you feel more accomplished than spending three hours cleaning out your flowerbeds?
How to Make Sense of It All
If you enjoy reading and you have tracking proof that doing so makes you happier and helps you to fall asleep faster every night, then you will know how to better allocate your free time. Of course, cleaning out your flowerbeds is important, too. So you either need to hire someone to take on that task—or perhaps combine the two and listen to audiobooks while you weed and fertilize. It’s all about your goals. What do you want out of life?
If you find that analyzing the data to be too much to contemplate, then you should deal with it in chunks. What do you want out of this quarter? This year? Then further extrapolate it and think about what daily habits it will take to achieve your specific goal.
If your goal is to run a half-marathon in December, but you haven’t done any aerobic exercise in a year, start small. Knowing what you want is essential to successfully setting goals.
Achieving a Work-Life Balance
Most life coaches will advise their clients to develop habits one on top of one another or to stack them in such a way that one triggers another. Chances are you are already a pro at this. You get up every morning and then take your dog outside. You take a shower and then brush your teeth. One action triggers the other until it is natural for you to do one and then the other without a second thought.
So, if you want to achieve a more positive outlook or mindset, then you might build a new routine by speaking affirmations aloud as you style your hair in the morning. Even on days when you do a messy ponytail or a quick brush-through, you’re still performing this action each day and can therefore practice saying a positive affirmation or two on top of that until it’s just a natural part of your routine. This is a small yet simple way to improve your peace of mind. Even if spirituality isn’t on your list of things to track, you will find personal metrics to stack for a better work-life balance.
The very nature of success is that whatever you choose to work on becomes a habit: something you do without effort or thought. By taking a hard look at your habits and goals, you will be on your way to mastering your life.