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Warren Buffett said: “Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” It’s far too easy for bad habits to derail our businesses, health, finances, relationships and happiness. Just one bad habit can be the bad apple that spoils a dozen good ones.
Here’s how top entrepreneurs and members of The Oracles mastered the self-discipline to break their worst habits and set themselves up for success.
1. Quit wasting weekends
I made a change at age 25 that transformed my life forever. I quit doing weekends like 99 percent of society. I stopped spending money I didn’t have. I stopped drinking. I stopped smoking. I stopped trying to impress people. I stopped making excuses. Most importantly, I stopped lying to myself and operating below my potential.
Instead of partying, relaxing, and kicking back, I got my hustle on and worked. This one habit saved me millions of dollars. I’m not saying you have to work every weekend. There are times and places for relaxation, but wasting every weekend was self-defeating.
To break my bad habits, I simply made the decision that I wanted success more than temporary fun. So, keep your eye on the outcome: what will you gain by breaking this bad habit? When you decide to let go of your own worst habit, I promise you, it will change everything.
2. Seek out pain
To break bad habits, start by conducting a 360-degree review with seven to 10 people whom you know best. Ask them what areas of your life and business are not working while giving them complete freedom to be brutally honest with you.
Now go even further: ask them what behaviors of yours drive them crazy.
You’ll learn things about yourself you didn’t know. You’ll find the truth hurts. But better yet, that hurt will create action. You need that pain if you truly want to break bad habits.
3. Get clear on your why
I used to struggle with discipline until I got crystal clear on my “why” and purpose: teaching others how to create an extraordinary life and master their mind. Once I got clear on my life mission and why it was important, I set clear goals to make it happen.
Every morning I wake up and read my mission and goals, so they’re at the forefront of my mind — this helps me make clear decisions throughout my day and not create bad habits or distractions. Then each night, I answer these three questions in a journal. One: what went well today? Two: what could I improve? Three: what am I grateful for?
Being aware of actions that work each day helps me reinforce good habits. I then make small adjustments to things I can improve so I can keep living an extraordinary tomorrow.
4. Find certainty
Bad habits always originate from a lack of focus. Any bad habit I’ve created stemmed from being unclear of my objectives and intentions.
Once I became certain of who I am and what I wanted, everything else materialized. My biggest tool to gain clarity is my journal. I emphatically track my progress daily, weekly and monthly for each personal and professional goal; this allows me to tailor each day based on the area of focus and my daily priorities.
It’s tough to develop bad habits when you’re continuously monitoring and analyzing your progress. Consistent success requires routines and checkpoints to maintain your purpose in business, health, personal finances and relationships. The key is to discover which habits allow you to build momentum.
5. Have a formula
In physics, “momentum” refers to the quantity of motion that an object has, which depends on two variables: mass (how much is moving) and velocity (how fast it’s going). The formula is:
Momentum (p) = mass (m) * velocity (v)
This basic formula helped me maintain discipline as my income increased. Conversely, most entrepreneurs habitually apply “Parkinson’s Law” to their finances: expenses expand to fill the income available,meaning that as revenues grow, so do expenses and lifestyle.
Using the momentum equation, the mass (m) is income, and the velocity (v) is your savings rate. For example, for every $100 you make, if expenses are $90, you could save $10 (or 10 percent). But if your income increases to $110 and you maintain the same expenses, you could save $20 (or 18 percent).
The momentum formula will help you establish disciplined habits and accelerate you toward desired outcomes because it simplifies everything.
6. Understand your triggers
The key to breaking free from bad habits is to find their source. So, identify the bad habit and then isolate its trigger. For many entrepreneurs, bad habits are merely caused by stress.
To break the cycle, replace the bad habit with a positive one that provides a similar benefit. For example, I always turned on the TV the second I came home to relieve stress. This negative habit led to wasted time and procrastination — a feeling I despise. To counter this post-work stress relief, I began replacing my TV time with running.
Because bad habits are a means of dealing with stress, we need to re-program ourselves to properly deal with stress. Eliminating your triggers requires extreme self-control and commitment but will lead to new, healthier behaviors that are personally and professionally more gratifying.
7. Plan for better ones
At 15 years old, I was huffing and puffing just to get through a one-mile run. It was years before I decided to adopt better eating and exercise habits. I started saying no to social activities that distracted me from exercise. I started saying yes to nutritious foods like lean proteins and vitamin-packed vegetables. Before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line of my first half marathon.
This principle of planning better habits applies equally in business. When I work with new startups, I precisely map out the plan for victory. Then comes the hard part: follow through. To stay hyper-focused, I isolate myself from distractions during specific times. I switch my phone to “airplane mode.” I only follow up on pressing matters. I focus on my plan. Adopt an unstoppable attitude, put one foot in front of the other, and keep going until you reach your goals!
8. Take action
If your habit is truly is truly hindering your health, relationships, or success, get off your ass and do something about it! When quitting any habit or issue you deal with, remember: it gets easier every day that goes by. Be patient the first few weeks, and take mental control of the devil on your shoulder telling you the habit is necessary; it’s not necessary.
The main thing to remember is this: 100 percent of bad habits are controlled by your mind. You will survive. Get professional help, read up on your habit, and know that you can master your mind to break it. This may take multiple attempts, but don’t give up, you can do it!
9. Prime your proactive mindset
It’s super important to get yourself into a proactive mindset instead of a reactive mindset. So often people wake up and start reacting to their day. When you’re reacting, it’s very easy to slip out of good habits and become less aware of what you’re doing, especially if you are trying to build a new, better habit.
For me, I take 15 to 30 minutes to myself in the morning to focus on my mindset and my goals. As I live on the beach, I like to take a walk, watch the sunrise with some good music on and visualize what I want to achieve that day and in general.
—Jared Goetz, serial entrepreneur and e-commerce expert; cofounder of four multimillion companies in five years
10. Community drives achievement
We all know that all progress starts with telling the truth. But when we share the truth publicly with a person or group — who can hold us accountable to do better — that’s when we start seeing breakthrough success.
I struggled with an irregular and unhealthy sleep-wake schedule for years until I started an accountability group daily call for 5 a.m. The 5AM Club changed my life by giving me the anchor I needed every morning, and today, we have hundreds of committed people on that call to start their days off right. Change happens in groups.
11. Pay the price today
Writing for The Oracles has kept me focused on breaking bad habits. I’m a creative guy, so I never used to enjoy looking at financial reports — it felt like getting a root canal. But finally, I forced myself to understand them. Break the bad habit mindset of “as long as I love what I do, the money will follow.” Bullcrap. Now I live and die by the numbers, which has made me much more creative.
It’s hard doing the right thing all the time, but you can always be more honest with yourself by asking: Will this action take me toward my goal? Do the hard stuff first and get it out of the way. Otherwise, you’ll always pay the price eventually.
Originally published on CNBC.com. © 2017 CNBC LLC. All Rights Reserved.