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Baby Stepping to Greatness

Excellence as a Habit

The ancient philosopher, Aristotle, talked about life virtues. Historian Will Durant, summed up Aristotle’s philosophy so eloquently, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then is not an act, but a habit.”

So what do you think? Do you think that excellence can become a habit?

In the The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg explains the concept of the habit loop — three items that oversee your habits in a cyclic fashion:

  • The cue: The trigger that activates this loop
  • The routine: an automatic response or action to the cue
  • The reward: the positive that makes your brain happy and lets you know it is worth it and want to do it again.

This process can be used to change an old habit into a new one.  For example, if you want to change an old habit of waking up late into a new one of waking up on time, you can think through your routine and what routine tweaks could help. Getting enough sleep is important, so maybe you need to get bed earlier. What night-time routine can you put in place so that you can wind down sufficiently to fall asleep? Maybe it’s turning off electronics at an earlier time. Maybe a reward for getting up with the first alarm is to swing by your favorite coffee shop on the way to work for a coffee/tea treat or pastry. TREAT YO’ SELF!

Duhigg has a flowchart of this process on his website.

Changing habits is a process. You need to figure out what your life goals are and choose what baby steps can guide you into the life of excellent adventure that awaits you.

I have come up with 8 habits that I believe will lead to your Most Excellent Life:

  1. Regular Exercise
  2. Healthy Eating
  3. Great Sleeping
  4. Healthy Family/Social Interactions
  5. Positive Thinking
  6. Practicing Visualization
  7. Making Your Bed
  8. Accountability for your important goals

This is a mindset shift. It is better to decide that each of these habits are just part of your identity and this is who you are on the inside! Celebrate each “small win” as a way of confirming that this is who you are. Setbacks?  Get back up! You’ve got this!

The essential ingredient for changing a small or big negative habit is being aware of the fact that this habit doesn’t belong to your excellence attitude.


  1. Regular Exercise

Your body is the house that your brain walks around in all day. How well your mind performs is also dependent on the health of your body. How is that movement going? There are so many things available to you to begin this process:

  • Get a FitBit or Apple watch to coach you and see how much movement you’re getting.
  • Join a gym
  • Hire a personal trainer
  • Take walks/runs
  • Get an exercise buddy or join a class – in person or virtual
  1. Healthy Eating

Keeping track of your food intake via journaling is the most useful tool. This can be done as your day goes along and there are a lot of apps for that. Another choice is to go with a program that makes the decisions for you and provides the food or at least tells you what to eat.

  • Food Journal App such as My Fitness Pal.
  • Doctor prescribed eating program
  • Nutritionist at your local gym
  • Online or in-person Coaching (alone or in group)
  1. Great Sleeping

Your excellent life needs excellent sleep. This habit may not seem so obvious, but sleep deprivation can have the same effect on an individual as alcohol impairment. A lack of sleep leads to poor judgment and your brain cannot be at its best. Lack of sleep also plays havoc with your metabolism.

  • Get a great mattress, pillow and sheets
  • Dark Room
  • Quiet Room (or white noise)
  • Remove blue-light emitting technology
  • Declutter room
  • See a doctor, if needed
  1. Healthy Family/Social Interactions

We are social beings, and the quality and quantity of our social interactions has a bearing on our health in many areas – mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risk. How healthy is your social life? What are some steps that you can take to work on this area?

  1. Positive Thinking

Positive thinking is a cultivated skill. It may come more naturally to some people, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot own this skill, too! In an article on the science of positive thinking, it was noted that a leader also needs to be aware of the challenges and that it wasn’t just the positive thoughts that leads to success. Noting the obstacles seems to come easy to most of us! Thinking we can overcome is the challenge to be learned.


  1. Practicing Visualization

From positive thinking, we stream right into visualization. This is where you actually practice in your mind many times before you actually do it physically!  Psychology Today referenced that performances are improved through visualization. The cited article gives many suggestions on how to make that visualization happen – down to even using the appropriate music up for the task!


  1. Make Your Bed

Former Navy Seal, William McRaven’s book Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World  gave the simple advice that “Sometimes the simple act of making your bed can give the lift you need to start your day and provide you the satisfaction to end it right.” This is an easy habit to start your day with a feeling of accomplishment and when you crawl into the bed after a hard day….that bed is made up and waiting for you to let you know, “You DID accomplish something great today!”


  1. Accountability for your important goals

If you want to make something happen, tell someone!  According to the American Society of Training and Development, your goal will have a 65% chance of happening. Make an appointment with someone and the chance of success rises to 95%. This, I’m sure, relates to the social beings that we are! Make that work for you by setting habit goals that have deadlines and someone for you to be accountable to.


Want an excellent life?

What is the habit that you are going to start baby-stepping towards to get you there? As you can see, it’s not that hard to form a new habit.  What will be your first small steps?

  • The cue: The trigger that activates this loop
  • The routine: an automatic response or action to the cue
  • The reward: the positive that makes your brain happy and lets you know it is worth it and want to do it again.

Now it’s your turn. What has been your experience with building habits in the past?  Did you encounter any specific challenges or obstacles? Lean into Your Restaurant Helper’s community to hold yourself accountable! We are always here for positive encouragement to help you along on your journey to restaurant and heck, might as well add in your personal health too.



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