(Estimated reading time 2- 3 minutes)
Habits have the power to create us or break us. They have the capability to move us forward or keep us stuck. They are the building blocks for who we are becoming.
Bad habits seem so easy to slip in to. Good habits so tedious to create. Most often habits lie undetected, creating who we are and often determining how well we’re doing.
In these last weeks I have realized that I have let some key habits slip. The impact of letting these seemingly insignificant things go, was like experiencing the shadows that creep in almost unnoticed at dusk . It took me a while to realize that overall I was not feeling my best, not bad, but not as good as I know I could feel. When I took stock, I realized that there were a few key areas where I’d let things slide. In good news, my sense of accomplishment and forward motion was almost immediate when I started back to those good habits. Habits have that kind of power!
Pick an area you want to see change
- Physical health
- Mental health
- Emotional health
- Spiritual health
- Being present
- Sense of purpose/ impact you want to have in the world
- Significant other
Tips for getting started
- What do you want? What you’re looking for is not a specific or measurable statement but more of a general feeling or outcome of where you’d like to be. For example, in the area of your physical health you might say “I want to feel energized and strong”, or in spiritual health it might be something like, “I want to stay connected to my sense of purpose”. The more you can make this come alive the better. Ask, “What will feeling energized and strong give me?”
- What will help you get there? Choose one specific, measurable, repeatable action that will help you move toward what you want. In the health example above that might be something like, I need to do weights three times a week, or I need to walk for half an hour every day. The spiritual example above might be “I need to pray every day”, or “I need to create a visual reminder of my purpose and consciously connect to it every day”.
- Remind yourself. Use whatever works for you. Here are some ideas – a reminder on your phone, your screensaver, your ringtone, a sticky note on your mirror, a tattoo or a piece of jewelry.
- Set yourself up to be successful. Commit to faithfully doing your habit for a week or two before you evaluate. Take it out of the realm of choice so that you don’t experience decision fatigue and give up. Being 100 % committed is easier than being 98 % committed.
- Evaluate. Pay close attention to how practising this habit makes you feel. I noticed the sense of momentum it created and the feeling that I was on track and moving forward.
This is a helpful article based on neuroscience principles called This is how to kill bad habits using mindfulness.
This short video explains how habits work.
There’s more to come on habits in future blogs, I’m sure. I’ve just ordered these two books which were recommended to me. I’ll let you know how that goes.
- Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
- Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin