Creating Habits that Stick

Well, it’s February. I know, I’m shocked too. Did you January fly by as quickly as mine did? Did you know most New Year’s resolutions are broken by February? I don’t know the exact statistic, and I don’t really care, but it’s something I was thinking about at the beginning of this year.

I don’t make resolutions. Not that I don’t believe in self-improvement, I just don’t think you have to wait for a new year, or that some how a new year is going to make a “new me”. But one thing I did do as January started was take a look at goals I had and what I could do to work toward them. This year, instead of setting goals, I decided to create habits.

We all know what a habit is; we all have plenty, good and bad. (We don’t have to talk about my bad habits of leaving my dresser drawers open, or picking my finger nails.) Habits can be incredibly powerful, if you choose to use them for good rather than evil.

All of the habits I decided to set are a work in progress. It’s not easy to create a new habit when you are stuck in old ones. But if you focus on it and are deliberate, you can create habits that help you get to where you’d like to be.

The Habits I’m Working on

Write Every Day

I‘ve shared recently about a dream and goal I’ve decided to actively pursue. While I’ve always been writing, I decided I needed to make writing a habit. Steven King writes 2,000 words EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. If he can write that much, I can find time within a day to crank out at least 500 words. That’s an easy enough benchmark to hit every day.

Touch Something Once

No more will I put things off and “deal with them later”. I’m making an effort to deal with things right away: touch them once. This applies emails, mail, picking up toys, laundry, etc. Instead of setting something aside to deal with later, touch it ONCE. Deal with it now. It’s a simple enough concept, but I will admit, I’m CONSTANTLY working on it.

Run Streak 2020

Running is already a habit for me. (Just peruse the ol’ blog and you’ll see.) But I decided to try something new to push me out of my comfort zone: a run streak. I don’t think I’ve ever run more than 6 days in a row. I ALWAYS take a rest day. I decided to run at least one mile every day. That sounds doable; even on days that I feel tired I can manage one mile at an incredibly slow pace.

Take Time for Gratitude

I think this can be hard, because it sound like something we do for social media and the #grateful. But I think there is incredible value in being deliberately grateful. I take about 5 seconds every morning to simple write ONE thing I’m grateful for. That’s it. Now, you can certainly to more, but I’m trying to build a habit so I’m starting with one thing.

Start the Day in the Word

I start each morning with a quick devotion. I get my cup of coffee and sit down for five minutes to spend some time in God’s Word. I can think of no better habit to incorporate into your life. If nothing else, this is one we all can do and should.

Creating Habits that Stick

So how can you start changing your habits? I’m no expert, but I’ve broken it down to a few helpful tips.

Know Your End Game

In order to know what habits you want to create, you have to know where you want to go. Do you want to lose weight? Run a marathon? Open a business? Go back to school? Get out of debt? Decide exactly where you want to be in the next 5-10 years and create habits that will help you get there.

Start Small

It’s easy to get all excited in January and try to do all the things. We vow to lose weight so we join a gym, sign up for a 5k, buy a cartload of vegetables and work our tails off. No wonder by February, we’re burnt out! That’s all too big. You have to start small if it’s going to be a habit you want to keep. For example, if you want to lose weight, maybe a habit you choose is to move your body for 15 minutes everyday. That’s it. Once it becomes a habit, you can start incorporating other things like eating more vegetables or training for that 5k.

Think Long Term

The thing with habits is, you can’t try and make them stick for just a few months or a year. Habits are something you want to keep up for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. So if you don’t want to practice yoga when you’re 80, there’s really no point to starting now, is there? Or if you have no desire to always eat low carb for the rest of your life, then there’s no reason to start a ketogenic diet.

Take Ownership of It

It has to be something YOU want. Not your mom or your husband or your friends. You have to want to make the change. If you are perfectly happy with a cluttered house because you’d rather spend your time with your kids than constantly picking up messes, it doesn’t make sense to tidy every day. It’ll just get messy tomorrow! I don’t care what habits you want to create, just make sure it’s want you actually want!

Be Mindful

Here’s the tough part. In order to create habits that stick, you have to be mindful of them. When I’m trying to create a habit of “touching something once” and I set something down to deal with it later, I have to be mindful of that switch that has to happen, especially in the beginning. If you want to get out of debt, and you want to create a habit of keeping track of your money, you HAVE to pay attention to what you’re spending!

Changing habits is hard and requires effort, but eventually, if you do something enough, it because effortless. And those small habits over time, lead to big goals that you want to accomplish.

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