Have you ever made a point to alter a behavior or a habit, but found yourself forgetting about it? Maybe once in a while you say to yourself “I don’t think this is doing me any good, I’ve got to stop doing this” or “I should replace this with something else.”
Its a bit of a shame that these points sometimes don’t sink in, and we do not hone ourselves to what we see as best (or as I might say when I’m feeling philosophical: “what we deem to be highest”).
*Forge a Concrete List of Habits*
Hear me out here, this sounds so simple but it was profound and enriching in my life. I’m going to let you in on my life a bit and go into some of the examples I have in my list:
1) Find certain habits that you simply don’t want to continue, and make a point not to do them anymore.
In my life, this involved:
- Not taking long showers – I used to hang out in the shower for 20 or 30 minutes at a time. Sure it was momentarily pleasureable, but it was a waste of water and a waste of time. Now I’m in and out in 5 minutes of less – significant change.
- Not juggling numerous tasks – I used to be writing inquiry, checking email, looking at other blog posts, and texting friends at the same time. Woo hoo multitasking! Not really. Now I focus on a single task and designate a certain amount of time to it exclusively, and I consequently make better progress faster.
- Not eating sweets – I’m no junk food junkie, and I consider myself to be in very good physical condition. However, as a general principal, I want to eat that which is nutrient-dense – foods that I know I will be comfortable eating for a lifetime. Its not like I turn down a slice of birthday cake, but otherwise I don’t touch sweets and junk, and I’m pumped about having these adaptive diet habits.
2) Next, come to understand some habits that you do every now and again that you’d like to continue, or habits that you want to start.
Here’s a glance at some of my own “do’s”:
- Appreciate 3 positive things about my day before sleep – This habit was something that I did on and off, and decided to make a pattern in my life. I review 3 great things that happened in my day (could be new info learned, a fun moment with friends, an breakthrough in my comfort zone), and then visualize some future goals.
- Wake up with the alarm – I used to be a bit of a snooze button guy, and I used to be a late sleeper. Now I wake up with ideas on how to have an awesome day and progress with my most meaningful objectives, and I literally can’t help myself from leaping our of bed.
- Protect my possessions – I used to leave my car keys in the car, and leave my iPod in there. I used to bring my wallet with me and feel fine with leaving it somewhere for a little while. Niave. After experiencing the consequences of theft, I now always lock my car and always ensure that my wallet and valuables are safe.
It is important to note that these new habits needn’t necessarily be framed in the negative or the positive (my “don’t take long showers” could be replaced with “take short, efficient showers”), its really just about what is most compelling for you.
This simple idea changed my life. It is empowering to define a habit, make note of it, and completely align with it because you know its best. So often we make note of these behaviours but do nothing about it in terms of real change in action and thought – in the way we go about living.
*Ideas on Designing Your List*
Now on to some practical advice on coming to create your own inspiring, beneficial habit list:
Understand your values – This is a prerequisite to forming compelling changes for your future behavior. If you are unaware of what holds meaning for you, then you will not be driven to alter or create any habit.
For instance, I value my day to day emotional experience, and I value the ability to take an adaptive perspective and appreciate the fulness of life. This strongly compels me to review 3 positive things about my day before going to bed.
Run behavior checks – Right now you might be thinking “I honestly can’t think of any habits I want to change or create.” I thought that as well. Review your actions throughout the day and see if they are in line – or at times directly against – your highest values, that which you live by.
For instance, while in the shower one day, I wondered why I had been there for 25 minutes. I came to understand that the pleasure of warmth was not worth the waste of water and productivity that short showers would provide. I value my environment, and I value my productivity – so my behavior check helped my make a new habit!
With these ideas I am confident that you can compose a Habit List. You might not make it too long at first, focus on a few key distinctions, a few diferent ways to respond to the same old scenario that will in fact be better for you overall.
In time, some of these habits won’t even need to be reviewed because they will be integrated smoothly, and you will have molded your responsive behavior – so you’ll be ready to create some more habits!