Growth comes from forming good habits (or to put it another way, it certainly doesn't come from bad ones).
The first good habit I learned took some effort – cleaning my teeth twice a day. As a kid I tried to avoid it and ended up with a mouth full of fillings from a very entrepreneurial dentist.
Once I'd replaced the terror of the drill with the pleasure of toothpaste, the habit was formed.
The next bad habit was smoking (I crushed it by recalling all the bad things it did to my body every time I craved one). The third was drinking (triggered by a massive health problem).
So why did it take me so long to realise that real change only happens when you change your habits? Education.
I've read a few books on habits, but by far and away the best is James Clear's new book: Atomic Habits.
You can repeat affirmations all day long, but we're told that unless we say them with emotion, they don't do very much (which makes it our fault if they fail – we weren't emotional enough – think and grow rich anyone?).
You can say out loud to yourself "I will [action] at [time] at [place]" (eg. "I will write 1000 words at 6am every day in the study").
But you can take it a step further (which is where Atomic Habits kicks in) by doing what James calls 'Habit Stacking'. "I will [new habit] after [existing habit] in the [location]". For example: "I will write 1000 words after breakfast in the study".
Now the habit is 'stuck' to another habit instead of time. And slowly your day will be built on automatic habits that get done. Nice one Mr Clear.