Healthy Habits extend beyond diet and exercise; although those serve as foundational elements in living a happy and productive life. When we talk about Lighting Your Way into 2021, we’re talking about incorporating some repeatable behaviors that give you energy, focus, and enable you to accomplish more than what you might believe is possible.
In this week’s message, we’ll explore the following:
- Defining Habits
- Identifying Your HABITS (Good and Bad)
- Building Good Habits
- Making Habits Stick (Tips)
Case in Point: Let me begin with a story about a close friend of mine. For sake of privacy, I will refer to her as Jill. Jill is a RARE bird. When she sets her mind to something, she does it. Years ago, when Jill learned from her doctor that she was pre-disposed to high cholesterol which ran in her family, she changed her diet and never looked back. She became a vegetarian and later a vegan. She also became interested in Triathlons and now she participates in several races every year. She structures her day so that she does certain things at certain times and when she gets off track, it’s hard for her to cope. What’s really interesting about Jill is now that she and her husband are retired; she finds it even more important to incorporate habits into her daily life, even though she has the time to do whatever she wants. In reading this description of Jill, one might think that she is rigid and obsessed with routine. Just the opposite. What I see in Jill is someone who is able to create habits that make a difference in her life, gives her purpose, stability and focus.
In all honesty, I wish I could say I’m like Jill, but I’m probably like most people. I believe in habits; but putting them into place and into practice prevents a challenge.
Let’s Get Started!
In less than a month, we ring in a New Year. I can’t think of anyone who’s NOT looking forward to a new year and a new beginning. With all that we’ve endured with the pandemic and challenges in life and work, it feels like the only thing that we can hope for is better times ahead. I’ve heard several “medical experts” say this week with the rollout of the Covid 19 Vaccine that the we are embarking on the “beginning to an end” of this nasty virus and the impact that it’s had on all of us. For that I’m optimistic. I’m also realistic to say that we’re not out the woods yet and we need to stay steadfast in our commitment to take care of each other by taking care of ourselves.
If we are to embrace the light at the end of this dark tunnel, let’s first dissect habits – what they are and how they are formed.
Habits, simply stated, represent behaviors that when repeated over time turn into automatic responses and/or actions. Think about when you wake up in the morning. What do you do without thinking – e.g., brush your teeth, take a shower, read the paper, check emails, quiet time in prayer or meditation? If these actions occur without giving them much thought, you have formed habits.
I read an interesting book called “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. He writes that positive habits are formed by incorporating small changes and creating a system to support a new habit. Clear states: “You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” In other words, a system includes an environment with processes in place to support the small, micro-changes that include positive and life-changing habits. For example, many people set out to lose weight as a goal. How successful have you been in this endeavor? Have you created the right environment, support system, and specific behaviors that turn into habits in order to achieve your goals? Or do you set the same goal over and over again?
Identify Your HABITS (Good and Bad)
First things first – take a Habits Inventory.
- What would you consider your work and life habits to be at the present time?
- Write them down in a column (Good vs. Bad)
- Prioritize the good habits that you want to keep.
- Pick the bad habits that you want to get rid of.
- Describe the feelings you will have when you create positive habits into your life.
- Identify the sacrifice that you are willing to make in order to produce positive habits.
Building GOOD Habits
To get started on the right track, consider incorporating these habits into your routine in the coming year.
- DREAM ON – spend a few quiet moments every day and visualize “a good day”. What is your dream for this moment, this day, this season, this year? Don’t get caught in the negative thought loop: What if it doesn’t happen? Just stay in the moment and in the positive. You can’t control things that happen to you, but you can control how you respond to them.
- PURGE OUT – purge the physical things in your life (e.g., office, house, garage) that take up space in your mind and in your physical space. Do this in small increments (a box here or there, a closet, a drawer, pictures). Try 15 minutes a day and see what happens.
- ORGANIZE EVERYTHING – Organize by scheduling everything that you want to get done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Organize your physical space. Organize your mental space by writing things down.
- REACH OUT – Don’t do life in a vacuum or work alone. Choose to make connections and build relationships. Make sure that you have your Posse in place to keep you accountable and on target. Build your network of like-minded people and include people who challenge your personal status quo.
- SKY HIGH – Pick out one theme for the year, which defines your intention – a “Pie in the SKY Aspiration”. What’s your ONE word to describe your hopes and dreams for 2021? Give this some time, but that one word should be the beacon of light to set your overall purpose in motion
Making Habits Stick (Tips)
Another concept that Clear discusses in his book relates to the Habit Line. As you can see in the graph, the habit line occurs when behaviors are repeated over and over again. The automaticity level increases until the Habit Line is reached. According to Clear, building a new habit depends on the number of times that you repeat the behavior versus establishing the length of time.
For each habit that you want to tackle, do the following:
- Answer the WHY question – why are you doing this?
- Start small.
- Stay focused.
- Remove barriers or temptations. (e.g., don’t stock potato chips)
- Make it easy to do.
- Focus on the positive side of the equation.
- Connect positive emotions to the habit. When I do this, I feel… good, happy, optimistic, energized, motivated, etc.
- Write things down.
- Don’t be a perfectionist.
- Just Get er done
“The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become.“ James Clear
Request a complimentary 30-minute coaching session to identify your TOP Growth Producing Habits for 2021.