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Cultivating Good Habits

Cultivating Good Habits

They say it takes over 2 months to develop a well-formed habit.  I don’t know about you, but patience is not my virtue and waiting 2 months to change my habits seems like an eternity.

Luckily, we all have some incredible support and resources available to help us on the way.

Habits are essentially small conscious decisions made each moment on how we’re going to spend that moment doing something productive or positive.  See my blog post on The 5 Choices which talks about how we can make better decisions on how to spend our time.

When it comes to cultivating good habits, these decisions must build over time until the new habit can become automatic and no longer a studied choice in our days.

Below are some of my best practices, and other resources from people who have studied habits much longer than I have!

5 Tips for When You Want to Change/Start a Habit

  1. Create a plan – if your habit will lead to a long-term goal (ie. Running – to run a marathon), plot your baby steps to the larger North Star goal. By making incremental improvements each day you’re well on your way to establishing a habit and reaching a new milestone in your life.
  2. Identify with your habit – envision yourself as a “new” person who has cultivated a positive habit, or conquered a negative habit. By seeing yourself as a new person, you will be more likely to move towards actualizing that vision.
  3. Find an accountability partner – nothing is more motivating than having to report to someone about your progress; ensure you choose a partner who will support and push you onwards, and not allow for you to make excuses about your behaviour
  4. Be ok about setbacks – I used to bite my nails, for years!!!! I blamed it on playing volleyball, you need shorter nails to play – but really its because I liked smoothing out jagged edges and too lazy to find a nail file.  I still bite them occasionally, usually in my sleep (or when its late at night) but when I do find I’ve lost a nail, I can’t lose my mind.  I do what I can to keep the other nails healthy and keep moving forward with full intent to have longer healthy nails.  Setbacks are a normal part of the process; accept them and vow to keep going!
  5. Reward yourself! – when you see yourself making progress, positively reinforce your own behaviour with reward! Celebrate your successes!  Habits can be difficult to cultivate or break, you should be proud of how far you’ve come, recognizing how far there still is to go.

Habits are hard to develop for good reason – when they are developed successfully, the rewards are great.  Remember, anything worth having is worth fighting for and working for.

James Clear is my go-to encouragement for developing healthy habits – his research can be found at www.jamesclear.com.  His article, Transform Your Habits, is particularly helpful.

What habit are YOU working to cultivate this season?

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