I recently decided to include some additional healthy activities in my morning routine at home. While my work and my lifestyle choices give me more than adequate cardiovascular, strength and range-of-motion fitness, there was an area of self-improvement I wanted to practice more consistently (I’ll tell you what and why in a bit).

Because I’m sure some of my readers have positive changes they’d like to make, I’m sharing how I was able to be successful. Suggestion: If you want to start a new habit and want it to be consistent, find a way for it to be in the morning (before life gets in the way). If you want to make changes to an existing negative habit, starting a new one is a great way to eliminate an old one.

First, I wrote down the specifics of what I wanted to do. The specifics. Not some vague, general, well-intentioned direction/path, but specifics. I wrote it, pondered it, made it more realistic and then rewrote it until I was comfortable.

Next, I needed to find the time to include it. I only needed 20 minutes or so but although I’m naturally an early riser, I have a full “schedule” in the morning. So I prioritized. The late part of my evenings weren’t productive, meaningful or fun. They were relaxing but so is going to bed a little earlier. After I adjusted, I started waking up a little earlier. Then I tweaked a few minutes here and there off my morning activities to make more priority room. (That’s what priority means, right?). Painless—and I had the time I needed.

Then I found a small desk calendar. Now I know everyone uses their phones/pads for their calendar these days but humor me. I put the calendar where I have to see it every morning. I don’t have to hit a key on my phone to see it; I can’t avoid it. And I circled the date when I’d been a good boy. After my self-discipline had started a short but successful stretch of circled days, I had a feeling of accomplishment and a responsibility to continue. That sounds a little corny and dramatic as I write this but those “feelings” really took a lot of pressure off having to depend only on my self-discipline.

That’s it. Whether the self-discipline requires self-denial or self-motivation, the process is the same. Whether you want to stop eating sugar and starch for breakfast or start the practice of a daily walk. Write down the specifics, prioritize your time, and then keep a record to make yourself accountable.

What I wanted to include was time for consistent meditation. Instead of the random way I’ve practiced for many years. Briefly, for those of you who aren’t familiar with meditation—what it isn’t and what it is: It isn’t sitting quietly and letting the mind wander in comfortable pleasant directions. That’s called daydreaming (and I do plenty of that already). Meditation is the opposite. Meditation is training our minds to focus better. It helps us concentrate, to not be easily distracted, and to find measured states of relaxation deeper than the deepest stages of sleep. I wanted to make meditation part of my daily routine. Why? I know its benefits. I know I wasn’t practicing consistently. I know I wanted to. So I did.

Whatever is in your life you’d like to change, start. It’s not complicated. I hope you can modify some of the methods and suggestions I’ve shared and they’ll help you start.

We work with people every day who have made their decisions and are successful in making positive changes to their lives. You can too.