Some habits will help you live a better life. They’ll help you improve what’s already working or help you fix what’s not working very well.
But what about habits that completely change the game entirely? What are the questions that uproot your beliefs, shake them from its roots and move you into a bigger pot?
These are seven habits that won’t just improve your game, or help you “level up.” They’ll help you play a different game, one that you completely design yourself.
- Regularly engage in time travel. Often the best way to solve a problem is to have a conversation with your future self. How do you do this without bending the space-time continuum? It’s simple, really. Have a seat in your favorite chair and close your eyes. Now imagine walking into a bare room, with plain white walls with a small table and two folding chairs facing across from each other. Sit down in the chair closest to you. Now, in walks your future self 10 years from now. S/he sits across from you and explains that s/he’s there to answer whatever questions you have about the problems you’re facing. Go ahead and begin firing. Ask him/her whatever you want and take advantage of a more experienced version of you.
- Before you act, hold back. You would think that immediate, unmitigated action is best. Act quick! Buy now! Hurry before it’s too late! These seem to be the cultural beliefs we’re imprinted with. But is acting quickly really better? I think sometimes the opposite is better. Think about what you want, but wait to act. Just spend ten minutes thinking about what you want to create and allow yourself to feel what it will be like to take action. I think you’ll find when you build anticipation like this, the quality of your action will improve.
- Ignore and doubt yourself. Sometimes listening to yourself and getting in touch with your intuition is important. But what if you don’t like what you have to say to yourself? What if you have patterns of thought that aren’t serving you? Sometimes it’s better to allow them to be there and ignore them, rather than trying to push them out. Other times, it’s even important to doubt yourself… that is, doubt what you think you’re capable of. We often underestimate our potential, so it can be beneficial to create the habit of doubting what you think you can do. It’s often much more than you think.
- Feel before you do. A lot of the time we create to do lists or start projects based on what we want to get done or want to accomplish. The feeling is supposed to come after we’re done. We’re supposed to feel good by accomplishing. While this approach seems very logical, it doesn’t always work too well. It’s much better to start with the feeling you want to create, and then choose the actions you want to take that will create that feeling. This is a hard habit to create, because it doesn’t seem reasonable and requires a lot of trust. You’ll also have to have the courage to stop doing a lot of things that don’t create the feeling you want. That takes a lot of guts. But it’s worth it.
- What would happen if this was easy…? As a culture we value people that work hard and beat the odds. We think it’s important to pay our dues and grind it out. But what if work didn’t have to be hard? What if your life didn’t have to be hard? What would happen if things were easy? Regularly asking yourself this question and seeing what comes up can be game changing.
- What do I think is impossible…? Sometimes we think that we’re only capable of a certain level of achievement. We doubt our own capabilities or think that a certain change would be too hard or impossible. We’ve set ourselves up to fail before we even begin. Ask yourself this question, then ask yourself why you think it’s hard or impossible. Then take a moment to pretend it wasn’t. What would you do differently?
- What would I do if I had everything I needed already…? A lot of the time we think we need more than we do in order to do what we want. We think we need more time. More money. More resources. More support. But is that really true? You can do a lot with a little. Many businesses are built with little to no start up money. Many great projects are started with a simple idea and a willingness to work hard. What if you didn’t need whatever it is you think you need to start? What if you had everything you needed right now?
These are just a few habits I’ve found that have made a huge difference for me. They’re a bit uncommon and take a while of practice in order to make them work, but once they’re installed you’ve essentially created a limit-breaking loop that leads you to higher and higher levels of success. It feeds on itself to grow.
So now my question for you is this: What habit has made the biggest difference for you? What one question or ritual has changed your life?
photo courtesy of platinum
#5 put holes in my brain, Jonathan.
Any time I think something’s difficult, in goes that mindhack – “What if this was easy and I’m just fooling myself?”
Simply excellent, my man.
Julia M Lindsey says
I love your list. When you are time traveling you could also envision what it would feel like if you accomplished your goals. What would it feel like to live in the dream home, have enough money, the success you want, etc.
Mars Dorian says
# Feel before you do.
that’s my daily mantra, Jonathan, I don’t really care about logical steps and planning much ahead. If it doesn’t vibe with me, it’s useless to me.
What really changes my life now is that I obsessively focus my will on my destiny – I leave everything out that distracts me – I only, and only think about where I wanna go.
I’ve read an article by Karen of AMeaningfulExistence.com about how the statement “I’ll handle it” has positively changed her life. I took the habit of telling myself this statement, and so far, it motivates me and helps me stay positive.
Love it, love it, love it!
Thanks for the list of new things to play with. I’m going to have FUN with this!!!
I do have one other habit that’s changed my life.
#8 – Seek Strange Looks
I started challenging myself to try to get funny looks from people, it did amazing things to shift me out of caring what others think and striking out to live on my own terms.
challenging oneself to get funny looks from people ;) THAT SOUNDS GREAT and its sounds SCARY too!! Great advice!
Great list, Jonathan. I currently use #1 Time Travel all the time when I’m facing difficult situations. I ask myself what would be the long-term consequences of deciding on X versus Y. I try and picture myself in the future when I’ve made the decision and see how it played out. It takes practice, but it’s a good way to touch base with your subconscious and project yourself into the future.
I just noticed Julius’ comment – very glad that something that one of my articles helped him. I’m sure that the 7 weird habits will change lives, too.
Nathan Hangen says
Think before you act…see the forest, not the trees…be smart. That’s what I’m hearing, and I agree 100%.
I tend to act out of emotion, and it’s a lot worse when there are things like social media and blogging to catch us at times like that.
I’ve learned to talk to a friend, or realize that it’ll all be OK in a little while. Makes a big difference.
I love the what if it was easy comment. Often the hard parts end up being the most fun and satisfying.
King Sidharth says
I am not subscribed to any self-help or mindset blogs. Just yours, you resonate. Cheers!
Nhan-Esteban Khuong, L.Ac. says
It’s amazing how much of this applies to Martial Arts practice in addition to life, love, business, etc.
I especially like #5 and #7. I use those on a daily basis and find that they are quick and easy ways to keep myself grounded when a difficult issue comes up.
Thanks for sharing!
Craig Thomas says
Nice post! Spot on with the questions. We should ask them daily before we waste time on things that don’t really matter. Feeling before doing? Hmm, different but interesting. Not sure if I’ll try it out, but I may do. :)
I’m a new reader, just wound up here from Hacker News, but this article and site very much impress me.
Also, I love that you have a ‘New? Start here’ page, and think more blogs need this.
this is the first time i visited this blog and this post is mind blowing …..very insightful..thanks
Jens P. Berget says
I often hold back before I act, well, at least I try to. I find it fascinating to engage in time travel with myself… I never thought about this, and it solves everything.
I’m sure that the “future me” will be able to answer all the questions :)
Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey says
This is a great list. I love #5, I think if everything was easy I would take life for granted. We take life for granted but not to the extent that we would if everything were easy. Thanks for sharing!!
great list :)
I’m having a bit of trouble getting my head around the time travel one?
Katie MacKenzie says
Love you’re list. One more I would like to add that helps me. Hold on tight to your dreams and let go of Everything else.
Thekla Richter says
These are great! I especially like 1,5,6, and 7… very powerful tools.
Arun Basil Lal says
I would also recommend the ideas from the famous Steve Jobs Speech. It has helped me much :)
Its here –
Richard | RichardShelmerdine.com says
I really love the first one. I actually wrote a post about a similar technique recently at my blog. The only difference is you talk to your real life role models in your mind about problems you are facing and solicit answers from each one to get a holistic view. It’s an amazing experience I recommend you should all try!
Superb tools.. nice one..
gregory stromberg says
Every morning when I awake I ask our Lord for all of his blessings, I ask Him for his hand, I ask Him to expand my territory wherever He wants me to be and I last I ask Him not to let me cause anyone pain.
In the evening I thank him for my day, all of his blessings and for everything I learned.
gregory stromberg says
Here are my three questions that have changes my life forever.
1. What is it that I really aspire to stand for?
2. What is my purpose here on earth?
3. How will I define success?
I love this list! I will certainly add these things to what I’m doing.
Since you’ve shared and given me so much, here is something that works for me:
How would I react if my best friend/spouse was going to take this action? (Would I be excited or concerned for them? What words of advice or encouragement would I give?)
Just One Question a Day says
What is your highest priority?
Never give in to adversity, never trust prosperity, understand that fortune behaves just as she pleases. – Seneca
Joshua Black | The Underdog Millionaire says
Number one is my favorite. “Time travel” is critical if you want to have any level of success in a small business or otherwise.
People don’t realize that you need to maintain the child-like sense of wonder or else you will lose it.
You have to be able to visualize a successful outcome for something that you want to accomplish or else it’s like you are driving around without a roadmap.
The Underdog Millionaire
Armen Shirvanian says
The cool thing here is that these are sort of weird habits, but that is what makes them fresh compared to some regularly-mentioned ones.
Feeling before we do is one that I can see value in. When we put ourselves into a predicament we are about to take part in, we get a sense of how we will feel working on it, or experiencing it, and get a sense of the difficulties during the process, which makes us hesitate less to take part, because the difficulties are usually not that large.
#7 is a good one to use when we start to forget what our minds want to be doing. We think of that, and then we remember what we have blocked out as “out of our reach”, and then we remember or think of the steps to get there. I would assume that some folks would wish for us to imagine X or Y is impossible, but neither is.
Good list. I remember a wise statement said by someone “You never know what you can do untill you try”.
I too have written an article called “Ten tips for achieving success in your job” on my Blog. Here is the URL
Joe Garma says
Suggest one more thing, and that is to try to get clarity on where your thoughts and emotions (= attitudes) come from.
Often, our thoughts aren’t our own. There’s a lot of programming we encounter as we formulate how and what about we think, from our thoughts about… say… driving a Hummer, to what who we think we are.
More about this here:
I love your list, #1 in particular, I use it to seek answers of my older wiser self 10 years in the future. We seem to always have answers in hindsight, may as well just ask.
#7 reminds me of a quote: “attempt the absurd and you may achieve the impossible”
Nea | Self Improvement Saga says
You have some really interesting suggestions here. I’m a self defined weirdo (LOL) so I can’t wait to try the first one…sitting down to talk with the future Nea. That should get interesting. Great post!
Sue Kauffman says
Great advice. These are seven things everyone should do, but we rarely take the time….and suffer the consequences.
These habits may seem weird, but seems like every time I read your posts, reports or whatever, I get another step closer to living on my own terms. When I mention some of the actions I desire to take, my friends think I’m crazy or hallucinating.
One very close friend actually said “I was stupid” to consider leaving a job that pays very well, just because it is depressing, stressful and offers no hope of making any real change.
I hold on because I believe on some level that I need to. #7 above hit home with me…At a gut level, I know I have everything I need. Look forward to more, mind-opening insights.
Daniel M. Wood says
Stepping back and getting an objective look at our lives is important.
Since childhood we have all been programmed to believe in certain things and we take them for truths, but often they are not.
Just like you say, asking your future self, past self, asking “What if this was easy?”, “What if I am wrong?”, “If all my assumptions were incorrect?”, will often open your eyes to new realities.
Asking a friend for input is also a good technique, because they have different scripts, different assumptions that might be more or less correct, but is gives you another angle to look at a situation from.
Thanks for the article!
thanks for the article, very nice
Scott Webb says
I asked myself: What am I willing to risk? What can I try to do that will not result in death?
Things can suck but you’ll still be alive.
With recent changes in mobile photography there is a huge time travel happening. Photography is a constant reminder to be child-like and look at the world fresh. It’s like a device that can see through time and gives me my childhood vision.
This is a really great article/post. I am very intrigued and am going to try some of these. I like the one about the older self and thinking as if you are already successful. I think I will combine these two and do what you have suggested. Thanks for your information. Sally (https://www.speakingoflove.net)
I’m loving the archives! This is a great post, and incredibly insightful. I’ve used some of these techniques helping people. It’s always nice when I see the people who inspire me with the same thoughts. Time travel is one of the most essential motivators in my tool box. One I need to revisit to get my goals back on track.
Thank you for this!
Nice post:). I find the 3rd and the sixth points contradictory, could you give me some insight into these? It is difficult for me to balance between the two.
I have actively applied a habit that requires I take 2 hours every night to focus on the things that will get me to where I desire to be. Through them, I have developed a non-negotiable sense of commitment to it. At first, it was more difficult than I thought. Friends would bother me to go out, etc… But over time, they began to understand what I was doing and supported me.
As with any habit, it takes time to develop. Although it can be discouraging at first, stick with it. Creating a positive habit is a good thing.
Awesome post! No#5 is a Game Changer! Thank you!
Jonathan Vieker says
Man, I love that time travel idea. There’s a related idea in Psycho-Cybernetics: creating a round table discussion in your mind featuring people you’d love to have as mentors. Imagine running an idea by Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, and Chris Guillebeau. The idea, I think, is that if you know someone’s thinking well enough, you can predict what they’d tell you surprisingly well. I never thought of asking my future self, though. Thanks for a great tip!