21-Day Lifestyle Revamp Program

(First written and published on Apr 4, 2010)

Do you know your habits are interrelated? For example, when you’re cultivating a good habit in your life, everything else is moving along well. On the other hand, when a bad habit creeps in, everything else crashes too.

There were times when my lifestyle went out of whack. It would happen when I fill my plate with more things than I can handle or when Q1 urgent tasks come into the foray. Being the workaholic, I rather give up sleep to put things in place, which causes my sleeping hours to get out of sync. I can be sleeping as late as 4-6am. Sometimes I don’t even sleep if I’ve an engagement the next day!

Since I sleep so late, my waking hours get pushed back against my better wishes. I don’t get to exercise in the morning. At work, I’m usually playing “catch up” with my task list. I’m sometimes late for appointments. At night, I jog where I can, but that means I have to stay up late to finish my work and sleep late (again).

Day after day, I observe this general pattern playing out.

Sleep late Wake up late No time to exercise Late for appointment Stay late to do workSleep late .

I found no matter how I try to change each outcome, everything will snap back stubbornly into this routine. If I’ve a meeting or a workshop where I absolutely have to wake up early, this happens:

Sleep lateWake up early Time to exercise Reach work on time Get work done Get more work done Sleep late.

However, this lasts 3-4 days before my entire system crashes inward to recover on my lost sleep.

Our Habits are Interlinked Like A Web

It seems as long as there’s a habit that doesn’t sync with the rest, it’ll not be possible to sustain all the other habits. This made me realize our habits are tightly linked to each other. Each habit is reinforced by other habits. These habits work together to maintain the structure of your life.

For example, imagine a spider web. A spider web has multiple threads which support its web pattern. If you want the web to disintegrate, cutting off one of the threads is not enough – you have to cut off all the threads that are essential to the structure.

Spider web

Likewise, to break out of a rut, a slump or an undesirable habit, it’s not as easy as just changing that one habit. You need to change all the habits linked to it - the bad ones, half bad ones or neutral ones.

21-Day Lifestyle Revamp Program

Realizing this sparked off the idea of the 21-Day Lifestyle Revamp Program. In 2009, I wrote about 21-Day Trial Program as a program that helps you cultivate a new habit at a time. With the Lifestyle Revamp Program, you design your ideal lifestyle that you want – complete with all the new habits you want to cultivate, current habits you want to tweet, old habits you want to get rid of. Then, for the next 21-Days starting Day-1, you will embark on this new lifestyle and shed off your past habits.

This program is about giving your lifestyle a total revamp and boosting you to the life you want. It applies if:

  1. You are in a rut and you want to jump-start your momentum
  2. Your life has been spinning out of control and you want to make a serious change
  3. You want to cultivate a new habit(s) which is inherently linked to other habits
  4. You love to use overwhelming force (Strategy #6) to take your life to new levels

How To Start

Step 1: Pick At least 3 Habits

Pick at least 3 habits you want to adopt. You can refer to the list of habits here for your inspiration. It’s best if these habits are interlinked with one another – meaning, achieving one increases the likelihood of achieving the other. The simplest example would be sleeping early and waking up early. Another example is leaving work by 6pm and exercising every evening. The more habits you pick, the bigger the change you will experience through these 21 days ;)

Example: My Target Habits

  1. Wake up at 5am. I used to do this before work got ahead of me. Nowadays, the times when I am awake at 5am are the times when I haven’t slept the day before. I look forward to reliving the benefits of waking up early soon.
  2. Sleep no later than 12am. This will be necessary to get Habit #1 in place.
  3. Spend at least 6hrs / day on work. My key work tasks are blog related – writing new articles and promoting the blog.
  4. Timeliness: Being on time for my appointments. When my day starts off on a late note, everything else becomes implicated, including my timeliness. I’ll address this by striving reaching early, rather than being on time (Tip #17 on 17 Tips To Be On Time).
  5. Stick to my skincare regimen (morning+night). (Guys can skip this if it’s too girly for you.) This might sound atypical for a female, but I’ve always been tardy with my skincare regimen since I’m young and I want to be diligent in it
  6. Spirituality: Meditate every evening. I plan to meditate before I sleep. I’m not setting a time as I’ve found my meditations most effective when I meditate in my own space. Usually that ranges anywhere from 15 minutes to 45 minutes. Since meditation clears mental clutter and reduces the amount of sleep I need, it’ll help in Habit #1.
  7. Self-Enrichment: Read a book or listen to a podcast for 30 min
  8. Start raw vegan diet

Step 2: Know Why You Are Doing This

You need to have a strong enough “why” on why you want to adopt these habits. While idea of a mega trial might sound fun and motivating, such external sparks of inspiration can only carry you through for a few days. If you want to achieve success for the 21 days, you need to have a strong reason why you even want to cultivate these habits. For me, I’ve been living the flip side of my target habits for months. I’ve experienced how they are and it’s not all that great. Not only that, there are undesirable outcomes such as lower productivity, lack of control over my lifestyle, imbalance of work and social life, among others. By cultivating these 7 new habits, it’ll help set in place the structure of my day-to-day routine, which will consequently help everything to flow into place.

Step 3: Follow the Success Strategies in 21-Day Trial

I have written 6 success strategies for 21-Day Trial which apply to the 21-Day Mega Trial too. Be sure to apply them for your mega trial.

Important Resources To Help You Succeed

  • 21-Day Trial To Cultivate A New Habit – What to expect in the 21-days and important strategies to succeed
  • HabitForge – Tracks new habits through a 21-day period. If you miss the habit for 1 day, it’ll restart. (Recommended by reader Dan)
  • Rootein – Unlike Habit Forge, this is an ongoing habit tracker. There is also a mobile version for you to track your habits on the go. (Recommended by reader onlyamitabh)
  • Joe’s Goals – Same as Rootein. There’s an option to place multiple checks on the same goal for extra-productive days. (Recommended by reader Melinda)

Program Terms

The same term for 21-Day Trial applies – You must do the habit every day for 21 days. If you break the cycle in any day, you have to start all over.

This is part of the Cultivate Good Habits Series. Be sure to check out the full series:

  1. 21 Days To Cultivate Life Transforming Habits
  2. 21-Day Lifestyle Revamp Program
  3. 14 Tips To Successfully Cultivate New Habits (exclusive article in Personal Excellence Book, Volume 2)
  4. Waking Early21 Tips To Wake Up Early
  5. Quitting Soda5 Reasons To Quit Drinking Soda (& How To Do It)
  6. Improve Your PostureBenefits Of A Good Posture (& 13 Tips To Do It)
  7. Be TV-Free: 10 Reasons You Should Stop Watching TV
  8. Being On Time17 Tips To Be On Time
  9. Meditation: 10 Reasons You Should MeditateHow To Meditate in 5 Simple Steps
  10. Manage Emails Effectively11 Simple Tips To Effective Email Management
  11. Run Barefoot: 10 Reasons You Should Start Running Barefoot
  12. Weight Loss: 25 Of My Best Weight Loss Tips
  13. Emotional EatingHow To Stop Emotional Eating (6-part series)
  14. Better Oral CareHow To Attain Healthier Gums and Teeth – A Simple but Important Guide

Image: Spider web



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« Comments Are Now Open!
 
21-Day Lifestyle Revamp Program – Day 1 Review »

  • http://aardling.com/ Stijn

    Well it sure doesn’t look like you’re not using skincare products. Kudos to your parents. And good luck keeping it up!

  • http://www.OptimisticJourney.com Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey

    This helps me to reflect on my habits. I am very much like you in the sense that I’m a late sleeper, late riser. Therefore it throws everything off. I need to refresh and cultivate my habits. I just might have to maximize the information that you’ve shared here.

    Thank you so much, Celestine for such valuable information!!

  • http://sidsavara.com Sid Savara

    Hi Celes!

    Wow! That really is a mega trial! I think waking up at 5 a.m. every day is going to help you with your writing habits as well – it really helped me with mine =) Waking up early always seems to help me start off the day more productive!

  • http://personalexcellence.co/blog/ Celes

    Wow, thanks so much for your strong encouragement and support everyone! :D 1 more day till the trial begins, and I can’t wait! :D Today will be preparation day ;)

  • http://www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/blog Steven Aitchison

    Celes I wish you all the success in the world with this and know you can do it. Just writing about it and sharing it on your blog will hold you accountable to your daily habits and we are right behind you.

  • Dan

    As Tony Robbins once said, failure and success do not happen overnight, but, most of the times, they’re a consequence of our daily rituals, habits.
    The same leadership coach also says that willpower doesn’t last, what lasts are the rituals/habits. So I can’t wish you anything but luck in getting a new ritual in your life.
    Note: you might consider using habitforge, a great habit tracker :)

    Great writing!

    • http://personalexcellence.co/blog/ Celes

      Thanks a lot for the habitforge recommendation Dan. Looks like a great site. I’ll add it to the post now :)

  • http://daringclarity.com Lana-{Daring Clarity}

    Celes, I am really glad I read this post. I have the exact same issue that you do and have been trying to resolve it for quiet awhile.

    I recently realized that part of my problem was that I was too attached to my image of a “night owl”. You know how we all have certain qualities that we believe define us in a way. So me being a night owl was a part of my self image. Getting rid of it meant losing a part me.
    That was a first step for me – to realize that “night owl” thing is in no way defines who I am. Plus going to bed at 5 am consistently is not really a night owl anymore, not even sure what to call it:)

    Now I am off to the next step and your post is perfect. 21 days trail and a spreadsheet is exactly what I need. So I am up to the challenge!

    New habits – go to bed – 1 am, wake up – 7.00am, work for 2 hours before my son wakes up and few other habits related to these ones. Thanks for the motivation!

    • http://daringclarity.com Lana-{Daring Clarity}

      After thinking about it, I am moving the hours 2 am to bed, 8 am wake up:)

  • http://kulit.tumblr.com Kulit

    1. My list of habits – I think it’s a balance of realistic and yet aspirational
    - Wake up by 6:30 AM
    - Eat breakfast
    - Leave the office on our before 8 PM
    - Sleep by midnight
    - Cut down on soda – No soda in the late afternoon and evening.
    - Work on one personal project for an hour each night (games don’t count as personal projects!)

    2. Because my life is starting to spin out of control, filled with too much fire-fighting and cramming, and terribly unbalanced.

    3. As recommended by Dan in the previous comments, I signed up for habitforge.com so I have daily reminders and tracker. Will also be doing a paper version on my planner.

  • http://alexi788.skyrock.com Alexis

    I think I’ll have a go at that to… I’ve already tried something like that, a 30 day trial where I tried to cultivate the habit of doing 3 hours of schoolwork per day : It was really hard and required loads of self discipline, knowing that I had to work 10 hours on schooldays or catch up the lost hours on week ends, only went up to day 20 (I’m 15)…^^
    Here’s a list of habits I want to cultivate during the 20 days…
    1.Wake up at 6 every morning (currently get up at 7.30)
    2.Take time to meditate at least once per day
    3. Do homework for at least 1hour and a half each.
    4. Practice my soccer for at least 30 mn/day (on week days) 1 hour on week ends
    Just enough to get me out of my comfort zone^^ Good luck Celestine and everyone doing this

  • Celes

    This is terrific guys!! :D Since there are more people joining now, I’ll make it a point to blog about my 21-day trial in the upcoming 3 weeks. Be sure to prepare your tracking sheet and/or use habitforge.com to keep track of your progress. Godspeed to all of us! :D

    To the rest: You’re still invited to join us! This is your chance to get your desired habits in place! :D

  • Josephine

    I have the same problem with sleeping late and getting up late. But in my case the problem mainly deals with an alternation of bad dreams and insomnia. Sadly, sleeping early and getting up early is one of my goals in 2010. There is little hope that my sleeping problem will leave me alone in the near future.

    But it’s good to set some goals. Wish you all the success in your 21-day mega trial!!

  • http://personalexcellence.co/blog/ Celes

    Guys, I’m Day-1 on the trial now. Woke up at 5am, did my skincare (My original plan is to do it evenings only, but now I’m psyched to do it both mornings+evenings). Planned my day from 5-6am, and now clearing off my emails before setting off for work at 7am (reaching early to be on time ;))

    In short – I feel amazing.

    I’m throwing in 2 more habits into my trial
    - Read a book / listen to a personal development podcast for at least 30 mins/day, probably before I sleep. Yesterday I was reading Superfreakonomics before I slept, and it reminded me of good old days years ago when I used to spend an hr or two enriching myself every night before sleep.
    - Raw food diet. I’m a little apprehensive about this simply because I’ve done it last year, and this trial needs proper planning, which I haven’t done since I didn’t expect to do it. But hey – it’s all about adapting to the situation :).

    More updates shortly! Everyone, feel free to use this as a forum to update on your progress too.

    For those who haven’t joined, you are still welcome to! Simply post the relevant details in the comments and you’re set :D

  • Frankie

    Hello Celes!
    I’ve been following your blog for many months now, but I never left a comment. Now I feel the time has come to overcome my shyness and join this mega trial!! :)

    I have the same problem of late-sleep/late-getting-up loop, since I’m in a strange period of my life, with no fixed schedule. I’m basically waiting to know if I have been selected for a job on the other side of the world and this waiting makes me anxious and lazy: I practically do nothing but checking my e-mail and watching tv shows all day long. This situation is making me someone I don’t like, I’ve even stopped exercising and started eating junk food. Three days ago i was just thinking: “I need a habit-changing trial, but I need some company” and then there you are, reading my mind! :)

    The habits I want to cultivate:
    Get up before 8:00 a.m.; refresh my professional knowledge at least 1 hour every day; study Spanish at least 1 hour every day; meditate 30 min every day, go jogging every other day; eliminate junk food and sweets from my diet; go to bed before 1:00 p.m.; plan my future life at least 1 hour every day.

    It won’t be easy, but now I’m not alone!! You are such a great inspiration Celes! I’m sure I will enrich myself during this trial period and I will make the best out of my “waiting days”! :)

    (sorry for the long comment!)

  • http://alexi788.skyrock.com Alexis

    Can anyone explain the link between productivity and waking up early? Why would a person who wakes up at 6 am put in more work than somebody waking at 8am knowing they’re awake the same time each day?

    • http://personalexcellence.co/blog/ Celes

      Hey Alexis! You’re right, it doesn’t make much sense mathematically. I’d say the productivity is largely from psychological feel-good factors from waking up early (Waking early = ahead = inspiration to work to stay ahead), though there really are functional reasons too (like quietness in the morning, early commute = not being stuck in traffic, etc). I wrote about them at http://personalexcellence.co/blog/why-i-wake-up-early-and-9-reasons-you-should-do-so-too/, in particular Reasons #1-5.

  • Ish

    Hi Celes,

    Thank you for this. I’ve been having similar issues. I’ve tried to change before, but had given up after some time. You’ve motivated me to try again. Most of my habit changes are related to lifestyle and health.
    So it’s Day1 for me too.

    The habits I’ve selected are:
    1. Wake up at 5:30 am every day
    2. Reach work early
    3. Sleep before 10:30 pm every day (need that to achieve the first one)
    4. Drink at least 8 glasses of water everyday
    5. Meditate and practice self healing reiki everyday (15 minutes)

    I had some trouble with the first one as I switched off the alarm and dozed off again, but I still managed to wake up earlier than usual. Reached work early and on the right track for the water as well.

    Thanks for the motivation!

  • http://www.forevafit.com mary

    Good luck, Celestine! I don’t know how you do it without sleep! I need 7-8 hours of sleep to have a clear head. I’m joining you with the raw food diet challenge and exercise daily even if it’s only 30 minutes. Life sometimes gets busy and we forget about ourselves. I find when this happens I really am not a lot of help to anyone because I’m not feeling 100%. So, here’s to getting back on track!
    Have a great day!

  • http://www.personal-success-factors.com Stephen Borgman

    Celes! You are the best. I absolutely love this post! I had just joined habitforge.com to work on creating more zen space in my home (which is far from minimalist and far from zen :) So, I have committed to working 15 minutes a day on cleaning my living space. But I see that this is only the tip of the iceberg. I believe I will become more productive as I prune and forge new habits. So I am going to reflect on this over the week and make goals on two more habits :)

  • LeCher

    Celes. Celes. Celes. You are a very good writer. I admire your desire and passion to make your life the life you want to it be but also to encourage others along your way. Swell! That other you are encourgaging is me. How fantastic that you were mentioned on CNN and that was on your Bucket List. WOW. Okay, let’s get to one of the ways you seem to be encourgaging me. I have a problem. I am lazy. I love to sleep late-heck, I can go to bed early and still sleep late. It’s like my security blanket becuase it allows me to avoid causing something tragic to happen, at least for a few hours until I fianlly wake up. I guess you can say I’ve become sort of a pessimist. I’ve been on the job for 5 years and married for over a year and this being an adult thing has kind of turned my world upside down. Word for the day-BILLS. I know that I am a powerful being and I can do anything I put my mind too (I know this b/c I cut impossible out of the dictionary) but the problem is my mind keeps getting in the way. IE…that vocie you mentioned that says go back to sleep when the alarm clock goes off- the vocie, it wins everytime. And like you, I have never underline never-heard a successful person say they sleep late. For example, PDiddy on Who wants to work for Diddy. I do want to live my best life now like Joel Osteen suggests but I just can’t wake up. Maybe I am a sleepwalker. I don’t know but something has to give. So……………..though I say this it may not be true b/c I am unreliable (again with the negativity) but I will try your 21 day lifestyle revamp program and luckily you allow for error so my day 1 may never end…..for me it may be like the movie “Groundhog Day”. But Celes, sweetie, thank you for this! LeCher pronouced like Cher with a Le–LeCher or LaCher but LeCher….LOL…just say a prayer for me and I will do the same for you. Peace and Blessings!

    • http://personalexcellence.co/blog/ Celes

      Hey LeCher! ;) Thanks for your first comment here and hopefully more to come! ;) (Especially with you getting the gravatar, I can only think so!!) Ok, it seems that you would like to cultivate an early riser habit. I’ve a question – What exactly are all the reasons that have been preventing you from successfully cultivating this habit?

  • Emily

    Any 21 days to cultivate your gym habits?? I have been skipping them for 3 months~

    • http://personalexcellence.co/blog/ Celes

      Emily, how about you kickoff one? A 21-day gym habit will leave you REALLY lean and fit at the end of the 3 weeks! :D

      • Emily

        I will try one next Monday. I also need a 21 days to break the bad habit of being late. Thanks for the guide.

  • Melinda

    Hi Celes!

    Love reading your blog — and since you’re writing more about amotional things, (like K. & G.), your posts keep becoming “softer” and “warmer”, and I’m very happy about it… And for me, it’s such a great relief that there’s someone else out there fighting with bad habits AND keep looking for solutions. Thank you agan or your posts and all what you share! :-)

    Melinda

    Ps.: My favourite habit-tracker is at http://www.joesgoals.com/ . That’s not a 21-day one, but since I can slide back to bad habits back in any time (after months, half a year, whatever), I prefer this one. Goals can be archived or deleted, when I don’t need them, there are logs, too, and I love the reports, and the weekly badge, shoving my nice (or not that nice) performance.