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Creating Habits for Self-Mastery

We know that smoking will eventually kill us, that eating the wrong foods will make us fat, that not exercising will weaken our bodies. We know that neglecting the dishes in the sink will attract pests and that procrastination will have a negative impact on our work. Why do we do things that we know are destructive and why is it so hard to stop ourselves?

Part of it comes from a lack of coping skills. If we haven’t developed the ability to combat the ups and downs of everyday life, then we are more likely to turn to bad habits to soothe ourselves.

So what steps can we take to combat bad habits before they completely take over our lives? We can replace them with better ones!

There are three main components to every habit:

The Cue – Almost all habitual cues fit into one of these five categories:

  1. Location
  2. Time
  3. Emotional state
  4. Other people
  5. An immediately preceding action

The Routine – This is effectively the habit itself; the behavior that has become second nature.

The Reward – A reward satisfies a craving or a need, and your brain learns to repeat routines that produce rewards. Your brain connects the cue to the reward, making you anticipate the reward as soon as the cue is read. This is how the routine becomes a habit.

To Break Bad Habits:

  1. Limit yourself to one habit at a time.
  2. Understand your triggers.
  3. Avoid the cues that trigger your habit.
  4. When you feel triggered, stop – interrupt the pattern.
  5. Determine what reward you get from the habit.
  6. Adopt a new behavior to replace the habit.
  7. Punish yourself when you indulge in the habit.
  8. Acknowledge your progress.
  9. Be persistent.

To Create and Sustain Good Habits:

  1. Make a list of the habits you’d most like to create.
  2. Limit yourself to one habit at a time.
  3. Find a cue that will work for you.
  4. Start small and build your habit.
  5. Reward yourself.
  6. Be persistent.

Here are 10 Habits to Master:

  1. Meditate
  2. Read / Learn.
  3. Learn from your mistakes.
  4. Maintain a vision of the future.
  5. Eat a healthy diet and engage in regular exercise.
  6. Control impulses.
  7. Listen.
  8. Create a to-do list.
  9. Be a finisher.
  10. Get up early.