The King of All Lists

I’ve been doing to-do lists for a long time. Every single morning, I wake up and write down exactly what I want to accomplish by the end of the day.

As I crossed things off that list, I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment. Crossing things of my goal list is extremely gratifying.

In my opinion, to-do lists are amazing. They give you an outline of the day. They allow you to complete your goals and promote generating/implementing a routine.

They’re built for people that use the common excuse; “I don’t have time,” which, I’ve discovered, is quite a large number of the population.

Outline Your Day

Wake up every morning and write down exactly what you want to accomplish by the end of the day. Keep it short and concise.

Long lists prevent you from completing them, which knocks you down a peg at the end of the day. Make you sure you keep it small.

Have a set of constant goals that you must achieve (more on this later). For me, it’s daily affirmations, learning Spanish, and going to the gym. These are my constant goals to attain each day.

Make Time

For all intensive purposes, I consider myself a busy person. I blog, make videos; attend school and work, and constant learn (or read) something, which sucks up most of my time.

“How do you have time?”

The answer is quite simple. I make time. This is something magical about the to-do list. Having those goals on my to-do almost force me to make time. I know the feeling of not completing that list.

I work to avoid that feeling! I don’t have any extra divine time. I just make sure I fit it in. The to-do list encourages me to complete everything.

Build a Habit

To-do lists help build a routine. As mentioned, I have certain things that stay constant. Gym was always a constant habit, which I internalized early on.

However, affirmations and Spanish was something that never came easy. I constantly forgot to complete them or decided to avoid it for just one day.

Here’s where the list came in. Including those things on my list gave me extra motivation to complete it. I couldn’t allow myself to sleep without completing my list, even though it included a difficult Spanish lesson and time-consuming affirmations.

Now, those things are a constant event on my list, but I don’t need them to be. I’ve built the habit. I know, even without including them on the list, that I have to complete them before the days’ end.

Now, including those goals are formalities. Use your to-do list to build and internalize new habits.

“To-Don’t” List

I used to have a terrible nail-biting habit. My earliest memories included my fingers in constant pain and bleeding. I can’t place any early memories before nail biting.

I’ve pretty much done it my entire life. This was a hard habit to break.

How did I do it?

To-Don’t lists to the rescue. I started my day by writing “Today, I will not bite my nails.” And every night that I didn’t bite, I crossed it off.

Boom. Instant gratification.

The problem with people and bad habits is that they visualize the distant future. They see one week or month into the future and breaking the habit seems almost impossible.

Not biting my nails for a FULL week? Not drinking for a FULL week? Not smoking for a FULL week? That seems torturous.

Instead, focus only on today. Today is the only day that matters. Get through today. And then, tomorrow, get through that today. Time doesn’t exist outside of today. Time is just a series of todays.

Similar to the to-do lists, not being able to cross it off at the end of the day, felt terrible. My decision always includes gratification and today I will achieve it.

Be bold, be free, and love on.

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One Habit That Will Change Your Life

If I told you the simple act of making breakfast made me who I am today, you probably wouldn’t believe me.

But it’s true.

Let’s hop in my time machine and go back nine months for a moment.

I’m depressed. I have no energy and no motivation. I usually never show any negativity at work but my coworkers can sense something is off. I’m not my normal self at all.

She used to take care of me but she is gone now and I feel like my life is falling apart. I barely wake up in time for work every morning and I can’t focus on anything.

My stomach is killing me. My body hates me. I don’t know how to cook anything so I’ll eat something that can barely be considered food once a day.

I have no plans for my future so thinking ahead hurts. Thinking back doesn’t provide any solace either. But all I can feel is my stomach.

I decide that no matter what the future holds, I need to care of myself right now. I need to start eating or I’ll rot away from the inside. I decided to make sure I ate before work the next morning.

Little did I know that I had found my keystone habit.

A keystone habit is one habit that has the power to create a chain reaction, causing a snowball effect that changes other habits as it grows.

Eating breakfast was my keystone habit. Your keystone habit might be quitting drinking or smoking, going to the gym, writing in a journal every night, getting up early or even reading.

By the end of this post you will know the three things to look for and expect from a keystone habit.
Let’s do it!

1) A keystone habit offers the feeling of small, reoccurring wins.

Everyone loves a win. It feels good. Imagine getting a win everyday, or five, or ten!

Every time I ate something in the morning it was a win for me. I would think about how I accomplished my goal before bed that night.

Having this sense of regular small wins can snowball and cause you to believe you can achieve those bigger wins. Maybe I could learn how to cook and eat healthy?

If you are trying to quit smoking everyday that you don’t smoke, is a win. If you don’t like the cold turkey method, everyday that you don’t go past a certain number of cigarettes it is a win.

Better yet, every three hour period that you don’t have a smoke is a win.

Set small, very achievable goals and allow yourself to get as many wins as possible.

Make sure you are congratulating yourself on these accomplishments!

With a hundred small victories at your back, you will not only believe that the major victories are possible, they will feel inevitable.
Which brings us to our next point.

2) A Keystone habit will snowball your confidence and energy.

When you integrate or change a keystone habit, you are improving something that is deeply meaningful to yourself. Pick something that you care about.

If you have been trying to quit smoking, go to the gym, or eat healthy for years and now you can see real tangible progress toward your goal, you will feel good about it.
I guarantee it.

When I started eating breakfast, I felt great. Not just because my stomach was no longer at war with me, but because I was starting to believe that I could change my life in a meaningful way.

With reoccurring small wins and your newly found confidence and energy, you come to point three.

This is where you start to see major changes in all areas of your life.

3) A keystone habit acts as soil from which other habits grow.

In the beginning I just wanted to eat every morning. I was at war with every part of myself and I wanted a truce with my stomach at the very least.

At first I would just eat a banana, but after a while I wanted something bigger so I would wake up a little earlier and make scrambled eggs.

I was terrible at cooking so I started watching Gordon Ramsay YouTube videos while I ate.
Ps: I am NOT a F**king donkey, Ramsay!

Once I learned how to make a half decent breakfast I realized that I loved learning and being creative in the morning.

I was now excited to wake up every morning. This lead to researching how to make myself an early riser naturally without effort.

These were new habits naturally growing from within me.

We all need a catalyst to change our lives, but it doesn’t have to be a near death experience.

The simple habit of eating something every morning gave me small wins, which lead to confidence and excitement, which lead to a whole spring of new habits I never thought I could integrate into my life.

I am a completely different person than I was nine months ago. It’s funny that I write this at the nine month mark because I do feel like I am reborn.

I am begging you, don’t try to change your whole life at once. Change one deeply meaningful thing about yourself.

Change one thing you do daily, and you’ll change your whole life.

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