So many of you mentioned yesterday that it was really hard to choose just one bad habit to focus on for the next 20 days. I know the feeling! At any given time, it can seem like there are a hundred and one areas that I need to improve in. In fact, when I start dwelling on all the bad habits I want to reverse or the good habits I want to implement, I can become overwhelmed!
Over the summer, I attended a workshop at our local homeschool conference by Susan Christman. She was encouraging moms to making habit-training a priority in their children’s lives. (You can see her hand-out here. If you’re unfamiliar with the term “habit-training”, be sure to check out this free ebook for more helpful information.)
The one thing that she emphasized was not only important habits are to develop in our own lives and the lives of our children, but how important it is to focus on one new habit at a time. I left the conference with this nugget of wisdom forever lodged in my brain.
In fact, it was the answer to my lifelong quest for more discipline. You see, for as long as I can remember, every few months, I’d realize that my life was in serious need of more order and discipline. In a flurry of resolve, I’d make this huge list of new habits I was going to begin implementing immediately.
I’d do really well at my new resolutions for about two days. And then I’d crash and burn from exhaustion, or something unexpected would come up and catapult me off course. When this happened, I’d throw up my hands in despair and defeat, feeling like a failure.
Instead of trying to implement two dozen habits at once, pace yourself and just focus on one habit at a time. Yes, it will take longer to actually see big changes, but those changes will be much more long-lasting.
In the long run, it’s better to only focus on and master three habits each year that actually stick, than to try repeatedly to develop 30 different habits at a time and end up overwhelmed, frustrated, and back to where you started from.
Sometime in the next 24 hours, find 15 minutes to sit down and make a list of all the good habits you want to develop in your own life and the bad habits you want to reverse. This is not an exercise to overwhelm you; it’s an exercise to just get it all written down on paper so it’s not sitting in your brain nagging at you.
Once you’ve made an exhaustive list, prioritize the top three habits that will make the most difference were you to implement them tomorrow. Then, take a deep breath, set your paper aside in a safe place (if you’re prone to lose things, consider emailing yourself the list or saving it as a file on your computer!), and keep working on the habit you’ve already committed to make your focus for the next 19 days.
When you feel like the current habit you’re working on has truly become a habit, you can then pull out your exhaustive list and start making the next thing a priority. Remember to take it slowly–even if you’re tempted to accelerate onto the next habit.
Yesterday’s project update: The habit I chose to focus on is to get up early every single day for this whole 21 day challenge. I’m three days in and already dragging, but I know that it takes awhile to “reset” my clock again. So I’m pushing through the tiredness, making early bedtime a priority, and not allowing myself to find an excuse for sleeping in in the morning, even when my warm bed feels so nice. How’s your daily habit going?