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People always want to know what the most important habit is. Some call it the keystone habit, while others refer to it as a habit that makes the others not matter as much.

Habits and routines are very individual, but if there is one thing that is true across the board, its the fact that your habits need space to thrive. The biggest habit killer people have today is business.

Alarms go off in the morning, and people have to play defense the entire day, rushing to different obligations. There is a better way...

Imagine being able to start your day in peace, with no worries about having to be anywhere. What would you do with that time? It turns out that most people fill this time with positive habits by waking up earlier than they have to.

“Wake up early and tackle the day before it tackles you. Be on offense, not defense.” – Evan Carmichael

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"The Habit" That Counts More - Creating Space 

I want to be clear here. You don't have to wake up earlier. If you're reading this and you're a night owl, or you enjoy taking long lunch breaks to get important things done, that counts too. Most of this article will focus on waking up earlier for reasons I will explain later. 

Needing space means having time in your day to do the important things you want to do but feel like you don't have time to. You may understand the benefits of working out, reading, and writing but not feel like you have time to get these things done. 

There is no way to add more time to your day. Everyone gets the same 24 hours. The easiest place to find space is in the morning because you have more under your control.

Here are some advantages to waking up earlier: 

  • It requires discipline to wake up at the same time each day
  • Your willpower is at its peak in the morning 
  • You start your day off feeling accomplished
  • Fewer distractions in the morning 

"The" Habit" and Why It's More Valuable 

Why does this habit count more than the others? It has everything to do with control. If you get up an hour earlier and you slot 10 minutes for your habits, you can get 6 habits completed before you even leave the house each morning. Creating space matters because it carves room for the rest of your habits.
Personally speaking, on days that I don't get up on time, I am all over the place. I am scrambling to try and get my day started, and it's frustrating. When I get up on time, though, there is peace. I can go through my habits without rushing because I know there is time to get them done.

My habits all bring me joy because they are all designed to help me improve and move closer to different goals. Most people don't experience this joy because they wake up with enough time to shower, brush their teeth, and get a coffee. That is no way to start your day.

The 4 Step Habit Building System

1. Stack

2. Start

3. Schedule 

4. Show Up

Stack 

You are going to build your habits by stacking them. What this means is that you will build habits off of other habits. Similar to how you may wake up, and that serves as a trigger to brush your teeth. 

Habit Stacking requires no cues outside of your control. If you can wake up on time, the rest of your habits will fall into place. Each habit serves as a reminder for a new habit. You should know what your habit stack looks like before you go to bed. 

Start

Once you know your stack, you have to start your day on time. When you start your day on time, it creates the space you need to successfully complete your habits each day. 

Waking up is the trigger that starts the rest of your habits. Once you complete your next habit, you keep knocking out habits until your stack is complete. Its that simple!

Schedule 

Your morning should be blocked like an important meeting. You need to start treating the space you create like any important commitment you have. It's not to be removed easily. You need to protect it because its the most important time in the day for your personal life. 

As you get used to your habits, you will start to have an understanding of how long they should take you. The better you get at this, the better you will be at knowing how long the entire habit stack will take you. 

Show Up 

The last step is the simplest step but the hardest to put into practice. You can have the best strategy for building habits in the world. You can even follow through with "The Habit" and but if you don't put in the work, nothing is going to happen. 

You have to show up each and every day. Show up when you're tired. Show up when you want to quit. Show up when you're tired of doing the same things over and over. Successful people understand the power of the right actions repeated over and over.

 

Obstacles to Mastering "The Habit" 

It's important that you og into this knowing that there are going to be a few things that will get in your way. I love to out and know what the obstacles are going to be so you can be proactive and get them out of the way before they become problems. 

1. Doing Too Much Too Fast

You always want to start small with changes. Big changes are daunting and hard to stick with over the long run. One of the best things you can is start gettign up just 10 mins earlier than normal.

Your first step should not be a big deal. Work your way to getting up 30 mins early. As you get used to getting up at that time, adjust it again and get up a bit earlier. Keep doing this until you have enough time to get through your habit stack without rushing. 

2. Letting a Bad Day Become a Habit

If you mess up and don't wake up on time. Don't be hard on yourself. Shrug it off and focus on not making it a habit. Anyone can do something once, but its different when you do it twice because then it becomes a negative habit of sleeping in. Get back on track as quickly as you can. 

3. Wasting Your Time

The worst thing you can do is go through all the work to get on time, just to waste your time. Forget about your phone, Netflix and any other distractions. You have later in the day for that crap. Make the most of your scheduled time and get important tasks done. 

Ian Warner

About the author

I went from a broken leg to a 2012 Olympian. I have spent the last 15 years building positive habits as a track athlete and entrepreneur. I founded Habit Stacker and dedicated my life to helping people to develop winning habits. I have helped over 5,000 people...

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