While habits are not glamorous and are rarely highlighted, let alone celebrated, we are, at our core, a series of habits.
We may think of habits as our personalities or “the way I am,” and yet habits are made, not born, and for this reason, with focus and discipline, you can make your habits what you want and, therefore, you can love the habits that make you, you.
Repetitive responses become reactions and reactions are habits. With habits, you can either change the action or the reaction, or both.
At the risk of getting into a “chicken or the egg” debate, think of habits as cause and effect. We act, or refrain from action, and there is an effect. Over time, those actions, or inactions, become familiar and the effect grows. Before we know it, we have formed habits.
Even though we often think of, and even label habits as “good habits” or “bad habits,” imagine if you started assessing your repetitive actions, or in this case your habits, as either “well-serving” or “not-well-serving?” In this approach, you are introducing some objectivity into a subjective world of good and/or bad. Since these are still your habits, there will not be complete objectivity, as we are biased, yet do not object to this simple process of creating well-serving habits:
• State your goals that you want to become planned accomplishments later (goals plus discipline plus action to get there equals planned accomplishments) as they relate to well-being, wealth, relationships and community (and other categories you choose).
• Create measurability around those goals so that the idea of “more,” “less,” “better,” qualifiers are removed and clear hurdles to celebrate are identified.
• Realistically track your time and energy, including mood and satisfaction with what you are doing for a full week, in order to see patterns.
• Identify any habits that are not serving your goal journey well, and rather than attempting to stop those habits, replace them with well-serving habits instead (with built-in rewards).
For example, if one of your well-being goals is to be energized positively throughout the day, and another is to be able to run a mile in under 10 minutes, and yet you typically hit the snooze bar twice, run late and find yourself frustrated, you tweak your approach to get up at your first alarm, drink a glass of water, state three things for which you are grateful and have your workout gear ready in the bathroom the night before so you can run that mile and track the time in your phone/watch for progress.
Know that after doing this for a month you will take a day off and spend time volunteering at a favorite charity to remind yourself that rewards are not all about food and drink and to further enhance your habit of community engagement.
What if you have an off day? Resist beating yourself up, and, instead, make a plan for the next day while not giving up completely on the present day. Remind yourself of the successes and how good those well-serving habits feel and the results you are accomplishing with them.
If you have an off week, or month, well then, you may want to reassess your goals, not to lower the bar but rather for a reality check. If they are still doable and within your skillset, interests and desire, then reset your discipline as you focus your motivation and inspiration.
Your habits may be varied and your goals-turned-planned accomplishments may be about work, relationships, time management/ownership or something else, and still, the process of assessing, planning, acting and rewarding can, interestingly enough, become a habit you master in order to be loving yourself as you are loving the habits you make.
Debbie Lundberg is the founder and CEO of the Florida-based firm Presenting Powerfully. An 11-time published author, certified virtual presenter, certified life coach, certified leadership coach and certified image consultant, she is a performance coach who co-hosts the Business of Life Master Class podcast. Her latest book, Remote Work Rockstar, has become a guide for working and leading virtually.