3 Simple habits I’m adopting in 2017 [TPP#57]

It’s that time of year again, 2017 is upon is and everyone’s thinking about their goals and resolutions for the year. And I’m no different…

I’ve already got a pretty good grasp on my goals for the year. If you’d like any help planning your 2017 goals, be sure to check out the replay of my 2017 Goal Planning Workshop.

As for habits, I’ve decided on three simple things I’d like to do this year. At this point, I’d like to point out, these are things I’ve spent time on in the past, but have had trouble sustaining over the long run. This year, my goal isn’t so much to try these things (as I’ve done them all before) but to practice each of them on a regular basis. That’s why, for each habit, I’m going to answer the following questions:

  1. How am I going to make sure I build this habit on a regular basis?
  2. How will I measure progress for this habit?
  3. What does success look like for this habit?

With each of these habits, I’m trying not to over think or over commit to them. In other words, I don’t want them to be big deal. If I don’t address my habits for a few days that’s fine, as long as I touch base with each at some point each week, that’s good enough for me.



In Tim Ferriss’s new book, Tools of Titans, he deconstructs the habits of the words top performers. In the book, Tim notes the following:

“At least 80% of all guests profiled in this book have a daily mindfulness practice of some type.”

In 2015, when I was using Headspace, I meditated 130 times for a total of 35 hours. Not bad going…

So, what happened?

I ended up getting a bit bored of the app. I also focussed too much on the numbers above and maintaining a “streak” of consecutive days of meditation. It sounds counter productive, but tracking my progress like this actually hurt my motivation.

But 2017 is going to be different.

How am I going to make sure I build this habit on a regular basis?

To start with, I’m not going to use any apps to track my progress. As I mentioned above, I’d rather not focus on the metrics and instead, just enjoy the opportunity to be present and mindful. Using an app would make me focus too much on completing sessions and maintaining a streak, so I’m going to go it alone instead.

Rather than committing to meditation on a daily basis, I’m going to aim to meditate at least four times per week. For me, this feels achievable and anything more than this is a bonus.

How will I measure progress for this habit?

Instead, I’ll measure progress based on how I feel and how often I catch myself being mindful throughout the day. For example, if I feel myself getting distracted or stressed out and am then able to notice this and be mindful towards these feelings, that’s success.

In other words, for this habit, I’ll be taking a qualitative approach to my measurement (opposed to quantitative) and focusing on how I feel and act instead of focusing on time spent meditating or a number of sessions per week.

What does success look like for this habit?

Success for this habits means feeling better. That’s it. Feeling better could be:

  • Feeling less stressed and overwhelmed.
  • Feeling happier.
  • Noticing my breath and thoughts more regularly.
  • Feeling better towards the people in my life.
  • Not letting things/people bother or affect me.

Going back to Tools of Titans, one of the interesting points made by Coach Sommer is how he get’s his athletes to benchmark success towards mindfulness and breathing:

“I may be the laziest mindfulness instructor in the world because I tell my students that all they need to commit to is one mindful breath a day. Just one. Breathe in and breathe out mindfully, and your commitment for the day is fulfilled. Everything else is a bonus.”

I love this idea of setting the bar for success really low. Not so that you can get away with doing less. But so you can sustain the habit and maintain it over time. One mindful breath per day is better than nothing at all.


Similar to meditation, journaling is something I used to do consistently in the past, but over time, have given up on.

I’ve found journaling can benefit you in a number of ways:

  • By getting everything out of your head, you can destress and unwind.
  • Journaling also helps you to make sense of your thoughts and ideas.
  • Getting ideas onto paper makes it easier to see everything in one place so you can work on ideas.
  • Journaling can also help you to discover things you didn’t even know. As the pen starts flowing, it’s amazing what thoughts you can uncover.

I have a “journal” notebook in Evernote where I keep all my journal entries. In 2017, I’m going to experiment more with free writing on paper where I just let the pen flow and see what comes out of my head.

How am I going to make sure I build this habit on a regular basis?

In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg notes the following:

“Studies of people who have successfully started new exercise routines, for instance, show they are more likely to stick with a workout plan if they choose a specific cue, such as running as soon as they get home from work.”

To make sure I journal on a consistent basis, I’m going to associate journaling with the cue of checking email in the morning. My goal will be to write for 5 minutes each morning right before I dive into my inbox. Because email is usually the first thing I deal with each day, I feel that journaling fits in with this routine nicely.

How will I measure progress for this habit?

Similar to the meditation, I’ll measure progress by keeping track of how I feel. If I feel busy and if my mind can’t shut down, I can take this as a sign that I need to do a brain dump and organise my thoughts.

What does success look like for this habit?

Success, when it comes to journaling means writing at least one entry per week. In reality, I’d like to journal at least 5 times per week, but I’m going to set the bar for success low so that I can sustain this habit over the long-run.


During November 2016 I took part in a “Summer Shredder” at our CrossFit gym. Over the course of 6 weeks, we had to maintain a paleo diet and consume no sugar or alcohol. I really enjoyed this challenge and felt great after cleansing my body for 6 weeks.

Going forward into 2017, I’d like to sustain this lifestyle, although not quite as strictly as we did for the 6 weeks. I’d like to be more conscious and disciplined when it comes to what I put in my body and reduce my sugar and alcohol intake as much as I can. Having a few drinks at the weekend or at social events is fine, but during the week, I’d like to maintain a high level of discipline.

The real motivator here is that I know how good I can feel when I eat no gluten, sugar or alcohol and it’s not even that hard. I remember when I started drinking again after the 6-week challenge, it was nice, but it wasn’t nearly as pleasurable as I thought it would be.

Not only this but after reading A Guide to the Good Life, I now appreciate the satisfaction that can come from practising self-denial:

“We should, say the Stoics, periodically forgo opportunities to experience pleasure. We might, for example, make a point of passing up an opportunity to drink wine—not because we fear becoming an alcoholic but so we can learn self-control. For the Stoics—and, indeed, for anyone attempting to practice a philosophy of life—self-control will be an important trait to acquire.”

How am I going to make sure I build this habit on a regular basis?

I’m very lucky in that I have an incredibly supportive and healthy wife who prepares most meals for me (I know, spoilt right). Taking the control out of my hands makes it easier to follow this diet.

However, it’s up to me to be disciplined when it comes to snacking as this is usually where I slip up.

How will I measure progress for this habit?

Another key concept that Duhigg discusses in The Power of Habit is the idea of associating a reward with your new habit.

For this habit, I’m going to follow a 10% rule. In other words, 10% of my meals per week can be “cheat meals” (which I’ll limit to consuming at the weekend) which don’t fit within my stricter paleo diet. Bearing in mind we eat about 3 meals a day, that’s 21 meals per week, meaning each week I can have 2 cheat meals.

By rewarding myself at the weekend with these cheat meals, this will help me to remain honest during the week.

What does success look like for this habit?

Like my other habits, rather than tracking specific metrics, I’m going to base my success on how I feel. For this habit, feeling better could be:

  • Having more energy.
  • Sustaining focus and attention throughout the day.
  • Sleeping better.
  • Having clearer skin.
  • Sustaining a lean and defined physique.

You get the idea.


I’d love to hear what habits or goals you’re focusing on for 2017. Please leave me a comment below and let me know what you’re going to be working on and how you're going to keep yourself honest.