I had heard of people picking a word of the year, but had never done it myself. What about you? Do you choose a word of the year?
I had always been resentful about establishing habits, thinking it was boring or too controlling, not to mention it reminded me a little bit too much of my teen years when I lived with a foster family.
Besides my life seemed to be going along pretty well without habits. But then I realized, “Wait a minute, I do have a lot of habits that I just don't realize are habits!” And I started to think that maybe my life could be enriched by habits. Not only my life, but also the way I feel every day. I even discovered that thinking negatively is an established habit that you want to stop reinforcing if you ever hope to stop.
In January I decided my word of the year for 2019 would be “habit” because I was learning all about establishing habits. It started with reading Atomic Habits by James Clear which led to reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and then Getting Things Done by David Allen… the more I read, the more I realized I had been fighting against myself my entire adult life! I decided it was time to try building habits and it has definitely been a learning curve!
Make It Easy
One important component to establishing habits is make sure they are easy to incorporate, and you should always clear the path to establishing the habit. Take a few minutes and think about the behavior you want to change, the new habit you wish to adopt. Let's say you want to establish the habit of putting your clothes in the hamper instead of dropping them on the floor. The dirty clothes hamper is in the bathroom, so why don't you just put your clothes in the hamper? Well, first the bathroom is down the hallway. And secondly, there's only one bathroom for your family of four, so you typically undress in your bedroom to limit your time in the bathroom. Does anyone use the bathroom laundry hamper? If some of your family do, buy a second hamper and put it in the bedroom nearby so you can easily toss your clothes in. This will help immensely with establishing this new habit.
I am super sensitive to anything blocking my path. One of the habits I wanted to establish was to swish the toilet every day. I don't like to use harsh chemicals but I think vinegar is great for cleaning so I bought an extra gallon to keep in the bathroom, instead of having to run into the kitchen to get it. I have learned that I am more likely to establish a habit if I set myself up to win.
Stack Your Habits
Another tip I learned is when you get one habit established, “stack” another similar one that you do right after that one. In addition to swishing the toilet, I wanted to scoop the cat litter box every day. So I'd do the toilet, then the cat litter box. It becomes like second nature after awhile.
Use a Habit Tracker
Another helpful tool for establishing habits is to use what's called a habit tracker. If you use a planner, you probably already know about habit trackers or the planner company may offer habit trackers included as bonus printables. I use the Passion Planner and that's one of the printables available for download. It's usually a group of squares and you check off each one.
Do you track habits? What do you use to track?