Habits are the things we do every day (or most days) that either move our lives forward or backward, depending on the quality of the habit. They are called habits because we simply do these things with very little thought or making a conscious effort, like brushing our teeth before bed. Other habits we do with a small thought or effort like walking the dog. Habits that are not as well established in our lives require a push like going to the gym or walking every day.
By definition, according to Merriam -Webster, a habit is an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.
Habits are important in our lives because they help us develop some sort of structure or routines in our day.
Certain habits can also be called rituals because we tend to do them at the same time of day and in a special order. I have a little morning ritual of waking up, meditating and then making tea or coffee as I contemplate my day. There is comfort in this quiet time each morning. Whether we call these activities habits or a routine or a ritual does not matter. It does matter if we do them every day or most days.
Daily habits are the foundation for us to live by our values.
It is essential to establish healthy habits if we want to move our lives forward in a positive, intentional way. A habit is neither good or bad so instead let’s use the words “healthy” or “unhealthy” habits to compare them. A habit that helps me may not be a habit that helps another person so first, identify your values.
My values include family, health, and personal growth. Some of the habits I am working on include daily meditation, daily exercise, once-a-month (or more often if possible ) getting together with my kids and reading ten pages. These habits are helping me to live by my values.
Habits can also help us to reach our goals.
Here is a simple example of how habits help us to reach our goals. My son recently told me he wants to read 1,000 books before he dies. Simple enough if you are a person that devours books, but for the occasional reader, this is a lofty goal. Reading one book per week or 50 books per year, it would take twenty years to reach this goal. One book every two weeks would take forty years. So, you can see this goal will not be reached without some intention, planning, and a daily habit of reading.
Habits need to be done every day or most days for them to actually make a difference.
We cannot run once in a while and think we are training for a marathon, nor can we read a page or two before bed and think we will complete 1,000 books. The daily effort of establishing a habit will make a huge impact on your life. Here is one way to think of it: If you want to learn to play piano, should you practice once a week for one hour or every day for ten minutes? It is the daily effort that makes the biggest impact.
The key to developing long lasting habits is to make sure they are sustainable.
It is easy to get excited and want to do a complete makeover of our lives. Our motivation can sometimes be the thing that causes us to fail. We try to change every single thing we do instead of making one small change at a time. Old habits die hard! In order for your new habits to stick with you for the long haul, change one tiny thing at a time.
Let’s say you want to take your vitamins, drink more water, and go to the gym every day. If you have not been doing any of those things, it will be difficult to start and maintain these habits. Start small. Start by taking your vitamins. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you. Set your vitamins out each night or get a pill container to get the vitamins ready. Put them in a place where you see them in the morning. Now, establish this habit for a week or two or more and then add another tiny step to your habits.
Here is some help to develop the habits you want in your life:
Visit www.tinyhabits.com for lots of information about habits by BJ Fogg, author of Tiny Habits.
Journal Smarter is a wonderful site that offers a course called Habit Sprint if you are looking for connection and support while you start your new habits: https://journalsmarter.com/products/
Change your habits, change your life!
If you want to change, improve, and grow as a person or make your life better, then change your habits. It really is that simple! Don’t put it off any longer! Make one small change today and you will already have taken a step forward.
The image was taken by Ed Robertson and can be found on Unsplash here: