Are habits controlling your life?

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle

 

I frequently write about simple, easy, efficient, or quick ways to change our lives.

The reason is this: if we can do something, anything, simple, short, easy, whatever, every day, then what happens is it becomes a habit.

Humans are creatures of habit

Therefore, if we want to change something about ourselves or our lives, what we need to do is either create a new habit, or get rid of an old one. I will talk about both, but usually people think in terms of creating new habits, so I discuss those more.

The good and the bad about habits

Habits very much define how our days go – productive/unproductive? Did you do everything you wanted to do? No? What happened?

I did what I always do every day instead

So there we have it. Instead of getting myself motivated and getting one of my goals done and out of the way, I fell into the routine of what I always do every day. Sound familiar?

That is why I am all about making things quick, simple, and easy! If we get into the habit of doing this quick easy thing every day, guess what happens? We’re productive, we cross something off our lists, we make progress towards something big. But most of all, we just made a habit of doing it! Which makes it automatic from then on to continue to do that same thing every day, and possibly even do it more. Progress is motivating, and motivation changes habits, and good habits make progress, and so on!

It’s a cycle habit

So we have to looks at our usual day-to-day routines. Are they full of good habits or bad ones? And by bad, I don’t even mean bad-bad. I just mean non-productive (watching too much TV) or just activities that aren’t working towards your higher goals (browsing Pinterest for five hours). Are your habits cycling your life towards what you want? No?

Let’s change that

Research shows  it takes at least two weeks to form a habit, and usually three or more. So then don’t try to change more than one thing at a time, else you most likely won’t

change anything. Work on one habit at a time that you want to add or change, and just do that one thing every day for a month. After you find yourself automatically doing tat one thing every day, you are ready to add a new habit. People tend to do too much all-or-nothing decision making. Life isn’t about all or nothing, life is about making progress towards something better. With progress, you will get there eventually.

TODO’s

  • Choose one habit you want to add to your life (preferably a positive one)
  • Make it as simple, easy, quick, and streamlined as possible. It needs to be something you are 100% sure you can do every day. Not 70% or even 90%, but 100% of the time. Nothing is too easy, don’t go big. This is about progress.
  • Choose the best time of day that you *know* you will be able to do it
  • Do it every day, no excuses. Excuses are also a habit 😉

 

Post it on your fridge, mark it on your calendar, create reminders on your phone. Do everything you can to not forget to do it, and to do it no matter what. Keep a log. If there is a day you miss (but I know you won’t!) write it in your log and write about why and what happened. Also write about how to prevent missing a day in the future.

You’ll be surprised at the results after a month!

   

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Comments

  1. Fantastic advice! I really love your suggestions and you are so right – excuses also become habit. Doing one thing at a time is a perfect way to slowly incorporate new habits. Also, the two week rule is really true. I continually do new diets (where I eliminate certain foods) and my time frame is always two weeks of strict eating and by the third week I am normally craving healthy foods. It is amazing! Thanks for inspiring me to keep it simple while creating new positive and healthy habits in my life!

  2. Wendy, thanks for this post. I am actually currently focusing on two habits: being vegan (I have eliminated dairy and meat), and waking up early on my “work for myself” schedule. So far, I’ve had success because I kept it simple. I used to try to do more than 4 or 5 habit forming exercises at the same time, but it was just too much. Now, focusing on 2, I’ve had great success. I am going on day 16 for vegan-ism, and about 3 weeks for waking up early!

    I especially loved when you said “if we want to change something about ourselves or our lives, what we need to do is either create a new habit, or get rid of an old one.” We often forget that this is KEY!

  3. Wendy, great advice again. Having a good awareness of the habits that are either supportive or non-supportive is certainly a strength for creating health and happiness. When people take responsibility to review their habits with a positive light for change they are certainly taking charge of their life. I found it takes around 30 days to allow the new habits to fully integrate 🙂

  4. Wendy – This is such simple and great wisdom that you are sharing. You have a knack for making things easy to understand and put into action. Our habits (both the good and bad ones) define our lives and it is so important to gain mastery over them. I am trying to form the habit of writing every day and your advice is perfect timing for me.

  5. Wendy, thank you for this great article with such good advice. When I start to think of habits I might want to add, I rapidly come us with 5 ideas or more. Writing every day is high on the list, but there are a couple self-care habits that are more of a priority. I think I will start a list, and then pick one a month, and start establishing some healthy habits. Thank you.

  6. Renee Beauvais says:

    Wendy, thank you for calling attention to “habits”, unconscious actions that very often impede our progress toward goals. People also form habitual thoughts that get in their way too. Your method for changing habitual actions applies to thoughts too. Every day think the desired thought. For example, “practice for 1 hour today I will be nonjudgemental, everything is as it should be.”

  7. Thanks for this, Wendy. I have a couple habits I’m trying to integrate (AGAIN—I always fall off the wagon!), and I’m trying really slow since I’m doing more than one at a time, which I know I’m not “supposed” to do. 🙂

    The main one is writing, which I do want to get back in the habit of doing daily. I’ve added it to my calendar so it’s the first thing I do in the morning, and I’m using the website http://www.750words.com so it will track my progress. Tomorrow starts a new month, and I plan to fill in those little checkboxes for every day in September. Wish me luck!

  8. Great advice here Wendy! There are some habits I would really love to form at the moment including healthier eating, regular exercise and daily meditation so these tips are great! I think I often don’t put in enough effort to cement the habit in the initial stages and give up before it sticks, this is something I need to work on!

  9. I agree with the fact that you gotta replace a bad habit with a good habit. You can’t just try to get rid of something and leave a void. You need to fill that void with something good- a good habit. Therefore, everything is essential ruled by habit- your whole daily life…. I try not to change more than one at a time because its really hard, and the mind plays games on itself and cheats sometimes.

  10. Wendy, thank you! Habits are such an important element in our lives and whenever we manage to influence them in an empowering way, we’re up to taking our lives to the next level. I would like to add that it’s good to think about trigger moments and rewards for habits to increase your chances of following through. E.g. for running, I trigger myself because it is the first thing every morning, and I reward myself through great learning ‘tapes”… Keep up the good posts!

  11. I need to change some habits definitely and make sure I follow them. Thank you for this post to remind me to do this. I am an early riser and can go straight into things that just distract me. From Mon tomorrow I will be turning off my phone during the day and not logging into facebook until after 5pm. That is my challenge! Thank you

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