What comes to mind when you hear the word habit? Something that responsible, capable people do? Something repetitive and boring? A ritual that seems like a good idea but you always fall short? Or perhaps you’re someone who is comforted by your habits and how they help you feel grounded.
If you’re anything like me, the word ‘habit’ in your brain equals routine. Routine?! I want my life to be anything but! Spontaneous, varied and adventurous; that’s what my life should be! However, in the past few years, I’ve come to appreciate and even revere what a few good habits can do for my life. In fact, they give me more freedom and energy to do what I want to do by setting aside time for things that are important to my well-being.
A new habit can be something as small as journaling each morning, taking a deep breath upon waking, writing 5 words, or giving your partner a kiss each day when you arrive home. These little habits can have a profound effect on our well-being. They start our day out on the right foot, make our relationships better, and the confidence that comes with doing a habit regularly can have a ripple effect on other areas of our lives.
So why do new habits seem so hard to establish sometimes? That is another blog in itself, but essentially, our habits can be hard-wired in our brains from an early age. Things like our parents influence, our culture, who and what surrounds us (our environment) and our ever-changing busy lives can all be factors.
The good news is that it’s not as hard as we think to create a new habit. It’s a process you can learn. Once learned, you can re-create it as needed! Creating a new habit takes a little time and effort up front. Once created though, auto-pilot kicks in and we don’t have to think about them anymore… but the effects can still be just as powerful.
Here’s what I’ve learned both in my own life and in coaching thousands of people in creating habits:
Having just a few, well-chosen habits can have a powerful effect on your happiness and quality of life.
- Do you want to lose weight or have a healthy, toned body? Start with a small habit of eating a piece of fruit each morning or walking 5 min. a day during lunch.
- Do you want to feel less stressed? Start with meditating just 5 minutes a day or sit out in the sun on your lunch break.
- Has starting your own business been a dream for years but you keep putting it off? A small habit that could spark you (and keep your momentum going) is each day for a month, write down three reasons why you’re more than qualified to do it.
Habits don’t have to last forever. You can do them for a season or a lifetime. Life changes, things shift and our habits can shift too. You don’t have to walk each evening after work in winter when the sun has already gone down, like you do in warmer months. You can let that habit go, and move your body another way until it gets warm again.
I only practice a handful of habits regularly, but one that stands out to me that’s really changed my life is dropping a note in my happiness jar most nights. This is something I learned about from Elizabeth Gilbert and I have to say, it’s life changing! It’s simple to do and only takes 30 seconds. Any time I need a little boost or reminder of how great my life is, I reach in and pull a few out. They never fail to cheer me up.
What habit would bring you more joy? What’s something you’ve been wanting to try or would like to start again?
P.S. Starting next week, I’m writing a blog series on how to create winning exercise habits (that you actually enjoy!) Regular exercise is something a lot of us struggle with, myself included. Especially in the winter! If you’d like my one on one, personal guidance in creating your new exercise habit, my Game Changing Habit program kicks off on April 17th with a special discount of 15% off. You can learn more about it here. I’d love to have you!