When I was a kid, my Dad used to say to me “You can do whatever you put your mind to” and I always shrugged off his corny advice. “No Dad, it’s not possible, the world doesn’t work that way, you can’t just do anything” I said in my stubborn mind. But now, his advice been a running theme in my life. I’ve been using his advice to accomplish big life goals like get into music school without lessons, graduate college, and start teaching piano.
I never thought I would ever get into a University music degree program. In my four years of college I’d go to the practice rooms almost every day to play piano. It was an outlet, a break from a long day of classes and studying. I would sight-read my favorite songs on my laptop, and my ability to read the notes fluidly slowly improved. Since freshman year I practiced consistently with no lessons, it was rough at first without a teacher. Four years later I was jumping around smiling, celebrating that I got into music school at SMU! Never did I think I would apply to music school my freshman year. If I didn’t practice everyday it wouldn’t be possible. With this story, I wanted to share that consistency and daily habits are powerful vehicles to accomplish your goals. And they can get you places that you didn’t think you’d end up! Like getting a music degree?
I’ve been using the habits+time formula to my advantage in reading more books, running in the mornings, and meditating. Here I want to share my theory with you so you can finally get to the thing you’ve been wanting to do. We all have that ONE thing we’ve been wanting to do, but never get to it.
Here’s how you can use time and habits to your advantage!
- What do you want to accomplish? Be specific. It can be running a 5k, waking up at 6am in the morning, writing in a daily journal, reading 3 books a month, losing 10 pounds, you choose! Write it down.
- Assign a time to do that activity EVERY DAY. I’m a big planner, just like my Mom. I have a daily planner where I write down how I allocate my time. If you want to do a 5k, walk-run for 30 minutes between 7-7:30. If you want to be a better writer, write for 30 minutes in a journal. Don’t judge yourself at the beginning. We all suck at something when we are just starting out. Time is on your side, and recognize that time is in your favor if you spend it wisely.
- Set an alarm every day on your phone to remind you to complete the positive habit. This helps me when I get lost in the depths of the internet; my phone rings and I immediately catch myself on Facebook watching a random video about a baby elephant having a temper tantrum.
- Be consistent. If you do it every day, your habit eventually becomes second nature. Consistency is essential to progress, and it’s fun to see how much better you get every day. You’ll think, did I just run 3 miles already? I’m not even tired!
- Improve by 1% every time your do the habit. If you ran half a mile extra every week, in a month you’d be running 2 more miles! Write an extra paragraph if you’re working on writing. If you’re wanting to learn Swedish, go online and research more medias to learn the language.
The concept of a daily habit is simple, but acting on it takes will-power. We all have vacations, sick days, and interruptions. If you have a day or two off, you can always start the next day. Some mornings I don’t run because I need to catch up on sleep, that’s totally ok!
Daily habits really make a difference. It’s taken me since childhood to learn that the small things you do everyday make a difference over a longer period of time. Time amplifies whatever you do, so make it your friend. Try out these strategies and tell me if it works for you! Good luck.