Good habits changed my life

By Younas Chaudhary

On hot summer nights, as a young boy in Pakistan, I would sleep on the terrace of our house to escape the extreme heat inside as in those days our village had no electricity or running water.

Younas Chaudhary in Edmonton, Canada, in 1977

I would wake up the next morning around 5:00 am to the sound of clanging of pots or someone drawing water from a nearby water well. Those sounds came from my parents who woke up early for their morning prayers, a morning ritual that became a lifelong habit for me.

My parents taught me punctuality, consistency, and perseverance; habits that became ingrained in me. Both my parents were early risers and I caught on to this good habit in my early days and I still wake up at around 5 am!

As I grew older, I developed the habit of having just three meals a day eating fixed portions, at a fixed time. Oddly enough, I chose 5 to 6 pm as my dinner time. Unfortunately, this has become a matter of inconvenience for folks who want to take me out for dinner!

This timely three-meals-a-day habit has helped me throughout my life by helping me maintain my weight without fancy diets or avoiding food that I like.

If you really want to spread good habits, you need to walk the walk by taking action and being an example for others.

For instance, I used to come to the office around 7 am. Instead of telling co-workers to be there at 7, I was there early and my co-workers started following my schedule which they felt helped them have productive days.  So, I learned that good habits develop through your actions and not just talk.

These days, I enjoy a semi-retired life. But, I make it a habit to do certain focused work daily so that I feel accomplished and productive. I still preplan my days, weeks, and months in a meticulous fashion, a habit that I began in my early days as an entrepreneur. I also share my ideas with fellow coworkers, and this has helped bring a lot of transparency to our operations.

A key habit that has helped me in my career and in my life is to have a due date and a timeline for doing things. For instance, if somebody told me they would deliver a project by the end of the week, I would always insist on securing an exact date and time. At times, this has created some resistance, but I always insist on clarity and not on vagueness, especially when handling deadline-driven projects.

I believe discipline and self-control are critical to keeping good habits for life. In vulnerable moments we tend to procrastinate, find excuses, and not do the work that is expected of us. It is true that we all have the habit of rewarding ourselves for resisting temptation and sticking to good habits like not eating a cookie when we know we do not need to.

Instead of adopting fancy diets or weight loss programs to maintain my weight, I enjoy eating all kinds of food in small portions. My reward is not to suffer but maintain my habits in a disciplined way.

Habits are contagious and we can help people change their habits through generous comments and genuine interest in their welfare. For instance, if someone has an eating disorder and needs help, the best option is to gently guide them to a better path instead of ignoring it or believing that the person is incapable of changing their habits. Blessings.


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article are my own and do not represent the opinions of any entity with which I have been, am now, or will be affiliated. Further, I make no warranty regarding the accuracy or effectiveness of my recommendations, and readers are advised to consult other advisors as well as their own judgments in making business decisions.

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