As the year is coming to a close, I have been doing quite a bit of reflecting. The truth is the later part of the year has been rough. More circumstances beyond my control which require a lot of my time and energy to deal with things I would rather not have to deal with.
The reality is life happens whether we are prepared to deal with it or not, but having positive habits in place can help us through those rough patches life sometimes brings.
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There are certain habits that I have built in that have helped deal with unplanned circumstances and there are other habits that I really need to break and replace with more productive habits.
I recently read the book “Getting to No: How to Break a Stubborn Habit,” by Erwin W. Lutzer. In the book, Lutzer makes the point that sinful habits cannot be broken without replacing them with righteous ones. It is not enough to just eliminate bad habits, but we need to replace it with positive habits.
This is great advice, and really just getting started is the hardest part about changing and replacing habits. At the same time, the only way to get started is to just do it!
Here are the positive habits I would like to implement in the coming year, which I am starting on today!
Even the best plans will fail without consistency. I know that no matter what it is I want to truly accomplish, and implement in my life requires consistency. This is never truer than when it comes to forming habits. There are four keys to be successful with consistency:
- Picking a consistent time that you treat as an appointment
- Finding a consistent place
- Creating a routine and;
- Seeking accountability
By implementing a habit of consistency, all of the other positive habits will fall into place
2. A Daily Walk/Exercise
Honestly, there is nothing that clears my head quicker or helps me deal with stressful situations with clarity and reason, then getting outside for a walk. Getting outside always improves my mood and energy. There are times I am great at this, but it seems that when I need it most, is when it seems to go by the wayside. As I try to figure out why this is, it comes down to consistency.
Forming a daily habit of walking and exercising does require consistency in actually going for a walk. But more than that, to make it consistent, I need to actually schedule it on my daily calendar. When I actually put a regular walking time on my schedule, I make it happen.
This will look different for different people. For me, it’s about taking time each and every day to be in the scriptures and in prayer. I have a pretty consistent habit of being in the word each day. However, I would like to develop a more consistent habit of prayer.
Prayer has a huge impact on my attitude all around. When I am praying for some difficult circumstance in my own life, I always end with a sense of peace and less worry. Even when I am having a difficult circumstance in my own life and I take the time to pray for others, I always end with that same sense of peace because I have removed the focus from myself to others.
The point is to have some consistent daily time to reflect and feed your soul.
4. Drink More Water
I fully confess that I have a serious coffee addiction. The problem is I really enjoy my coffee and know that it is not something I will be giving up anytime soon, if ever. But one of the biggest problems with my coffee addiction is that reach for my coffee mug much more often then I do my water glass.
However, I know that when I drink plenty of water throughout the day I feel so much better and feeling better allows you to be much more productive. One of the things I have done to help me be better about drinking more water is to make a habit of regularly carrying a pretty water bottle with me everywhere I go.
Even if I am home for the whole day, I still fill my water bottle so that it is handy and easy to stay hydrated. I also try and make a point of only drinking water with my meals. These are simple little things, but drinking enough water throughout your day is huge for your health and well-being.
5. Keep a Daily Gratitude Journal
It’s tempting to look around and see what everyone else has and what you don’t, but all this does is leave you feeling ungrateful and dissatisfied. Rather than comparing your life with someone else, being grateful for what you do have is what will inspire you to live the life you really want to have. There are so many benefits to a regular habit of gratitude. This is one of the positive habits I really want to be more consistent with this year.
Having a gratitude journal does not have to be anything complicated. I have had a dedicated journal that I have used, but the truth is I tend to be less consistent when I do that.
Rather, what I find the easiest way to be consistent is to jot down a few things I am thankful for directly in my planner. There is a space in my planner to make a few notes and I use that area to write down what I am grateful for that day. I do this each evening when I am planning out the next day’s events. You can get a free copy of the planner I use here.
If you want to develop a daily habit of gratitude, find something that will work for you, that will allow you to be consistent in jotting down a few things that you are thankful for each day.
6. A Consistent Bedtime
This is without question going to be the hardest habit for me to implement. I am by nature a night owl and I am an introvert, so I love the quite alone hours I get in the middle of the night. Even when I try to commit to going to bed at a reasonable hour, it is so easy for me to just continue working later and later.
I feel like I am so much more productive during these late night hours. But when I push myself till late at night it results in no “down time” so I know I need to work on this! I lose track of time in the evening and am always crashing into bed, exhausted!
At the same time, lack of consistent sleep effects my energy and concentration the next day. Even when I get my second wind late in the evening, I am not at my pique throughout the day. Going to bed at a consistent time makes all the difference. When I do, I have all the energy I need to stay productive throughout the day. I am much more productive when I am well-rested, even as a night owl!
7. Make My Bed
The power of a made bed is nothing short of amazing. Studies have shown that bed makers are happier and more successful than those that don’t make their bed. Not sure, check out this article from Psychology Today. According to the article:
“71 percent of bed makers consider themselves happy; while 62 percent of non-bed-makers admit to being unhappy. Bed makers are also more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly, and feel well rested, whereas non-bed-makers hate their jobs, rent apartments, avoid the gym, and wake up tired. All in all, bed makers are happier and more successful than their rumple-sheeted peers.”
That is some fantastic encouragement to develop the habit of making your bed each day. When you add this to the fact that even if the rest of your bedroom is in complete disarray, a made bed suddenly makes the whole room look a lot better, this is a great habit to develop.
8. Set Realistic Expectations
Just as no new habit can be formed without consistency, no habit can be maintained without realistic expectations in implementing the habit. Building new habits is tough! It requires being intentional. One of the problems with trying to create new habits is that it is easy to get discouraged and go back to old routines when we have even a minor setback. This is why I really want to make sure that I am setting realistic expectations for all that I am doing.
I often try to change too much at once instead of taking small baby steps, which lead to lasting results. Not only that, but I am hard on myself and expect more from myself than I would anyone else. I know that I can’t and should not try and do it all. All of this is why I want to develop the habit of setting reasonable expectations for myself.
It is so important to give yourself grace when things don’t go as planned. There are going to be times you cannot get to bed at the time you set or you miss your daily walk. Learning to be flexible and having reasonable expectations is so important to actually accomplish goals. This is definitely something I’ve been working on! I’m attempting to build a looser weekly schedule so that I have time for focusing on these important positive habits.
For further reading: Stephen Covey The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
What positive habits are you hoping to implement in your day to day life? Let us know in the comments!
Now live simply, live fully and make each day your favorite day!