My Left Foot…changed my life


Do you struggle to establish new habits? Does your willpower get you started but the fade before the habit is established?

Most people fail to maintain new habits for two reasons. First, they just don’t remember. Second, they don’t allocate the time.
Think about something you do or somewhere you look every day. Here’s some examples of how it works. I will describe the intention, the mental trigger and the result.

[1] I want to meditate. I leave my phone at my bedroom door. When I rise, it’s the first thing I see – I meditate 20 minutes twice daily. I am less stressed and more focussed. Tip: start small, say 2 minutes daily.

[2] I want to practise gratitude. I place a red notebook on my bedside locker. When I go to bed, I write 3 things I’m grateful for. My view of the world changes. Good things happen as I walk on the sunny side.

[3] I want to sleep better. Ironically, my kids help. Their bedtime triggers my evening routine. The TV goes off; I dim the lights, read and begin to wind down. I’m asleep by 10. I am fresh and pro-active every day.

[4] I want to rise early. I place my alarm under a warm top at my bedroom door. I wake and have to walk to stop it. Now I rarely need the alarm to rise at 5. I have 2 hours to myself to think and create each morning.

[5] I want to eat healthily. Each evening, I place some food containers on the kitchen counter. In the morning, I make a green smoothie and healthy lunch. I am nourished and feel strong.

[6] I want to ‘de-vice‘. I place a small box inside the front door. When I come home I drop my phone in. Remember the phone in the hallway? Nostalgia. This is difficult. But mostly I spend undistracted time with family.

[7] I want to relax once home. I place a sticky note saying ‘You’re home now’ in my wardrobe. When I unpack and change, I am reminded to stop thinking and I relax. The family have fun together.

[8] I want to hydrate. I place a water bottle at my work desk. I feel refreshed and energetic.

[9] I want to stand-up more. I place a sticky note saying ‘Stand-up!’ on my computer. I move around a lot more and am not worried if sitting is the new smoking. My thinking is clear and I have more focus.

[10] I want to get more fresh air. I have lunch every day – just like most! It’s my reminder to go outside. I am driven by energy and not by time.

[11] I want to plan each day. I have a coffee each morning – away from work. This is my reminder to write my Will Do list. I never react to a day.

[12] I want to start positively each day. I write GEM on my left foot. When I shower I start with Gratitude, Enthusiasm and Mindfulness. (I also write C on my right foot. I have a cold shower to experience the rush of positive chemicals). I feel happy and friendly.

[13] I want to avoid email. I place a sticky note on my keyboard to remind me to jot down tomorrow’s meetings before I go home. I don’t open email until 12. I am not distracted by other people’s priorities each morning.

[14] I want to work with focus. I set a desktop shortcut to automatically start the app I use to make my day productive (Evernote, music, pomodoro timer). I am clear on my goals and build unstoppable momentum.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle

You can make this even simpler. Forget all the above. Whatever new habit you want to start, just grab a pen and write it on your foot. One of two things will happen…

  • You will be reminded every day. You will refresh the ink until you successfully adopt the habit (99% of the time). Then you will clean your foot, or
  • You will be reminded every day but do nothing. You will allow the ink to fade and let the habit go. You will successfully realise it is not a true priority for you.

If the latter happens, you may make excuses, e.g. ‘I don’t have time’. I can translate for you – ‘it is not a priority for me’. Be honest with yourself.

So what is your single most effective tip for new habits? I would love to hear from you.

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