The Habit Lab with Ron
Habit Coach and CEO of the habit lab app
Tell us about yourself, your services and what brought you into the habit world.
My name is Ron Vereggen, and I’m obsessed with habits. I first started my career many moons ago as a computer programmer. After graduating from college back in 1989, I was a few years into my career, and I remember thinking … is this all there is? I had spent years chasing the dream (to graduate and land a job), and now that I had my dream job, I was bored out of my mind.
It was at this point I read my first self-help book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. After reading this book, I set 3 five-year goals for myself …
First, I wanted to achieve six figures (I was making around 33k a year at the time).
Second, I wanted to pivot into a leadership position.
Third, on a personal level, I wanted to be in the perfect relationship.
And after five years, I had … achieved a 6-figure income, landed a management position, and got engaged with my high-school sweetheart.
At this point, I realized that it was the combination of goals and habits that was the secret to success. I then shifted my focus from understanding how to program computers to figure out how to program the mind. This led me to study leadership, business, strategy, influence, time management, self-help, NLP, hypnosis and mindfulness. Over the years, I became an NLP trainer and achieved my coaching certification. I’m on a personal journey to install 100 positive habits (I’m up to 58), and I’ve made it my mission is to help people establish 1,000,000 positive habits. I’ve created a habit tracking app because I wanted to measure this. I started my mindful habits podcast to share ideas. And with my business partner, we started The Habits Ninjas, where we run a habits Bootcamp every four months.
Tell us about the Wheel of Life, how you created it and how you use it with yourself and your clients.
The Wheel of Life is a coaching tool to help you assess how you are doing in key areas of your life. The version that I like to use has seven key areas of focus. They are mind, body, emotions, work, money, relationships and fun. The idea is to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 for each area. This helps you identify areas where you are doing well and what needs improvement. I created a free resource where I explore all aspects of work/life balance including …
- A deep dive into the 7 Key Areas of Focus and why you should adopt them for your own.
- A step-by-step guide on using The Wheel of Life, including a blank template for completing your self-assessment.
- A visual overview (mindmap) of over 100+ Mindful Habits covering each of the seven key areas of the wheel of life.
You can get a copy of this free resource at worklifehandbook.com
Was there a book/moment/piece of content that changed everything for you?
There are some outstanding books out there. I already mentioned The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, my first self-help book. This one started me on my habits journey, so it will always be at the top of this list.
What are the common traps in the process of habit formation? What is the main obstacle you’ve seen inhibit your clients from sticking to their habits?
There are a few things that prevent people from sticking with their habits.
- Trying to install too many habits at once – When you first get started, you want to keep your excitement in check. Focus on a handful of essential practices. Don’t try to change too much at once.
- Along with too many habits, the second roadblock is making your habits too big. This happens because when we set habits, our motivation is high. The secret is design habits that we will do even when our motivation is low. So don’t start with a daily 30 min meditation habit, especially if you’ve never done it before. Start with a daily 1 min mindfulness moment and work up from there. When it comes to installing habits, consistency is more important than quantity.
- And the last thing would be beating ourselves up (and giving up) when we hit a roadblock. You will stumble along the way. This can be hard for the perfectionists out there. There are no perfect human beings, and you and I will not be the first. When you stumble, pause, take a deep breath and start again.
What is hard advice (that they may not like to hear) that you usually have to give someone?
Habit formation starts with goal setting. You don’t do habits for the sake of habits. You do habits to achieve your goals. Most of us don’t have clear goals. We drift through life, building up a reactive set of bad habits. One of my favourite sayings is, “You are either the master of your own agenda or a minion of someone else’s”.
What this means is if you don’t have a destination or purpose in life, don’t be surprised when you end up in a place not of your choosing.
What are your daily non-negotiable habits? How do you hold yourself accountable for them?
Morning (AM) Habit Stack
- Wake up around 5 am (without an alarm)
- Meditation (20 min)
- 3x week – M/W/F – Workout
- 3x week – Qi Gong (alternate days)
- Drink a glass of water before my first cup of coffee
- Flip The Switch practice (this is where I pause, shift my state, and lean into being my best self)
- Choose my #1 priority for the day
- One deep work block (where I’m creative before reactive)
- This could be coding my app, writing an article or designing a course
- All before 8 am
Evening (PM) Habit Stack
- Turn off tech (iPhone/laptop/iPad) at 8 pm (about 60 min before bed)
- Meditation (10 min)
- Read (Kindle) or Study (hard copy) from a book
- Lights out by 10 pm (at the latest)
- So that I get at least 7 hours of sleep (roughly between 10 pm and 5 am)
I keep myself accountable using my habit tracking app (thehabitlab.co). I designed The Habit Lab as a community-focused habit tracker where we can keep each other accountable.
Tell us about how you teach clients to implement new habits while keeping their fear response/amygdala in mind.
When you design a habit, you want to make them so small that they fly under the radar of the amygdala. A mistake most people make is that they set habits when their motivation is high. For example, they set targets like meditate for 30 min or 10,000 steps a day. This might work for 2 or 3 days, but eventually, our motivation will wear off, and our amygdala will go … are you crazy! … I’m not doing that! The secret is to design habits that we will do even when our motivation is low. So don’t start with a daily 30 min meditation habit, especially if you’ve never done it before. Start with a daily 1 min mindfulness moment and work up from there. Remember … when it comes to installing habits, consistency is more important than quantity.
Tell us what you mean by living mindfully and how you implement this into your life.
Mindfulness is the key to changing negative habits. I turned to mindfulness as a way to manage stress and anxiety. For most of my life, I’ve suffered from panic attacks. Something would happen, my heart would skip a beat, and then it would start racing at twice the speed. Doctors checked me out, but they could find nothing physically wrong. It was just something that I lived with. It wasn’t until I read a book about stress and anxiety that I realized that my heart skipping was a panic attack. That’s when I turned to meditation. I downloaded the Calm app and started meditating. And in about two weeks, I could feel my mind start to settle. Meditation is now my keystone habit. I meditate every day, no matter what. I’ve been meditating now for just over six years and what I’ve realized is that mindfulness is the key to unlocking negative habits. Most of our bad habits are a result of avoiding negative emotions. We distract ourselves with Facebook or Netflix to avoid feeling stressed. We eat unhealthy snacks to self-soothe. We strive for perfection due to low self-confidence. The practise of mindfulness enables you to notice your negative behaviour and view it in a non-judgmental way. With enough practice and commitment, eventually, the negative emotion driving the negative behaviour burns out, and you become free of your bad habits.
Tell us your top 3 habits for work/life balance and how you use them for yourself and your clients.
It’s hard to boil the list down to just 3. When it comes to choosing the right habits, it all depends on your goals. The success formula that I share with my clients is simple… Step 1: Define your goal.
Step 2: Design a keystone habit that will move you toward your goal.
Step 3: Remove the kryptonite habit that is stopping you from achieving your goal.
For a list of over 100+ recommended work/life balance habits, head over to worklifehandbook.com
Where can our readers find you and your content?
You can find out all the stuff I’m doing right now by heading over to my website at vereggen.com. There you will find out about … my habit app, my podcast, free resources like the work/life balance handbook and how to register for the next Habit Ninjas Bootcamp.