Our daily habits are important, yet the average person barely even gives their typical routine a second thought. Contrary to the excuses people make, being in peak physical shape is not that difficult, it's actually largely the result of staying true to a few simple habits, keeping your standards high, and repeating them until they become automatic.
What you do on a daily basis strongly shapes who you are, which is why forming good habits is the key to success in whatever you want to accomplish.
We are hardwired to form behaviors into habits to prevent information overload. Imagine if you had to concentrate every time you walked or picked up a fork or any of the hundreds on mindless tasks we do every day. Your brain forms habits from things you do repeatedly - after about 21 consistent times. The key to making the habit you want stick, is repeatedly doing it. The first few times might seem like a chore, but once you get through that the payoff is amazing...your body and brain start expecting you to do it and it comes naturally. Self discipline is like a muscle, the more you exercise it the stronger it becomes.
2. Be Strict
The best way to make a habit stick is to go cold turkey on any exceptions in the beginning. Once something is turned into a habit your brain works differently, literally there are new synapses formed and tasks get done in more of an automatic, almost unconscious sort of way. The only way to get yourself used to this in the first place is to be unwavering...if you want to wake up early don't settle for sleeping till noon since you're on vacation. Hard-wire your brain to get used to waking up early every day, and that will be who you become. Of course there are always exceptions at some point, but during the initial 30 days of forming a new habit being strict on it is one of the sole most important factors in getting it to stick.
3. Remove Temptations
When temptation is all around you, it's much harder to stick to the habits you want to form. Recent studies have shown that willpower is actually an exhaustible resource! (Source) The more willpower you feel you have to exert, the quicker you will get burnt out, leading to lower morale. Clear your environment of things that will make it easy to sabotage your new habit and save yourself the stress of having to resist things that pull you away from your goal.
4. Plan Ahead
"Success depends upon previous preparation, and without such preparation there is sure to be failure." - Confucius
Set yourself up for success by taking the steps you need to ensure things go smoothly. Want to start eating healthier? Then make yourself some healthy lunches, browse healthy living blogs and find tasty recipes that you can make, check the menu online of the place you're going to eat to prepare to order something healthy and tasty (once you get there, it's easy to be tempted by the whole menu, having your healthy order already prepared works wonders for me). You can also take steps to make the bad habits you want to lose harder to do, while making the good ones easier.
5. Write it Down
This is the simplest step here, but incredibly effective. Writing down what your goals are and what habits you want to form 1) Gets you crystal clear on exactly what you want to do and 2) Is a physical reminder of it that you can look at each day. When I want to form any habit or have any goals I write them down and leave them in a place I see every day. Motivation can fade over time, so giving yourself a boost of it by seeing your goals written down helps to keep it fresh, keep your mind focused on what you want.
6. Tell People
This is also extremely easy to do and a good way to get results. When you tell people your goals you now have people who can hold you accountable, or see that you failed if you don't do them. You have externalized what you want to do and a little of the weight of it is off your shoulders, and it drives you even more to want to succeed.
Every moment you don't spend working toward your dreams is a moment you wont be able to spend in them.