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BUILDING GOOD HABITS & what’s been working for me

tips for habit building

Though I love to read, I lack any real time to do much of it these days, but I do listen to lots of books on Audible. I listen while I walk our dog Winston, when doing the dishes, while editing photos waiting for Charlie to fall asleep next to me in her bed. I love nonfiction and lately my rabbit hole of saves and downloads has been leaning heavy toward learning about habit forming and everything from how our brains work when it comes in habit building, to how much of our habits are even a conscious choice. In a word, it has all been fascinating and propelled me to nudge myself with greater success toward building and keeping some habits of my own which had eluded me in the past. So, I want to share a quick list of what has been working for me, as well as some book suggestions you might find useful if like me you might be on a self-improvement/ self-discovery path.

ROUTINE ROUTINE ROUTINE  – Before we get to anything else, this word has to become something yuou embrace rather than fight against. Something is better than nothing and getting into a daily routine (even a very simple one) will have a big pay off in the long term big picture. I am currently listening to “The Common Rule” by Justin Whitmel Earley, which compares a routine to a trellis, which guides an otherwise unruly plant, to thrive, while having guided support. Every time I “don’t feel” like sticking to a planned workout, or powering through a task I find endlessly mind numbing, I try to remind myself of that visual. Zooming out to see the big picture of what I am trying to accomplish, and having that gently reminder, coupled with consistency over time has given me a little boost when I really needed it.

CREATING A (SIMPLE ) MORNING ROUTINE – Yes yes, you’ve probably heard this time and time again, but how many of these routines included trying to make yourself get to the gym at 5am or something else wholly unrealistic and unsustainable for your every day life? Keep it simple and doable. For me, starting the day in a consistent but realistic manner makes sticking to a routine for the rest of the day a little easier. Here is my simple morning routine:

  • Waking up at the same time every day, no matter what time you went to bed.
  • Nourishing my body early, which means drinking my greens + taking my supplements…not coffee, to start the day. This one felt like it would be impossible, but after just a few days I had noticed that I felt so much more even keeled if I started my day with drinking AG1, and taking my DS01 Daily Synbiotic, instead of going right for coffee. I make the drink as soon as I wake up, and then drink it while working our dog Winston, so that first bit of morning is filled with some kind of movement as well. By the time I walk back in the door, I no longer feel like I NEED a coffee, and often time skip one altogether. (In case you think I’ve totally got my sh*t together, I still have a super hard time not reaching for caffeine in the afternoon, but concurring one dragon at a time! Doing a mid day meditation has been a huge help with that. Keep reading for that tip.)
  • Making a morning list – I used to throw open my computer and just START, as soon as the girls were off to school. Start, and already feel behind for the day. I have leaned into making a big picture list for the week, and then a daily list of TASK ONE priorities, and TASK TWO. Task one is what HAS to be done that day, and TASK TWO being what I will get to if task one tab is all crossed out. This has been enormously helpful and my biggest suggestion is to pair this down and really edit as much as possible what TRULY HAS to be done and what could go into that second pile. You will take so much pressure off yourself, and get through that “must do” list much faster and with greater focus. The book “Slow Productivity” is full of great insight on taking this kind of approach.

EFFORT CREATES ENERGY –  I love this quote and it is typed out and taped to the mirror in my little vanity area, to glance at on days when I don’t think I have the energy for any of it. “Just start” I remind myself. The you 30 minutes in, is not the same you that feels like you can’t even start right now. You job is only to start. The effort will create the energy.

TIE IN YOUR STRUGGLE WITH SOMETHING YOU LIKEI started doing mini workouts with free weights at home on the days I can’t get to the gym for a class. I “let myself” put on a super guilty pleasure show like The Housewives, which I would otherwise never just sit down and watch for a half hour. This turns my mini workout from something I count down until the end of, to a thing I look forward to, because I get to watch my show while doing it, guilt free.

CONGRATULATE YOURSELF! This seems like such a simple one, but when was the last time you told yourself “Good job, that was amazing!”? We notice what we are not doing or not achieving so quickly and easily, yet it is somehow impossible to give yourself a pat on the back for the little and big wins in the moment. Checking in with your body & mind to note even the smallest positive change and then giving yourself a BIG pat on the back goes such a long way in keeping yourself motivated for the long term.

MEDITATING DURING THE AFTERNOON SLUMP – I wish I was the kind of person who barrels through their day with the same energy morning to evening, but try as I might, that afternoon brain fog slumps gets me every time. Coffee + telling myself to power through have failed me time and time again (shocker!) but I am happy to say I’ve finally found something that almost feels like my little secret super power. A 15 minute meditation right at that “I wish I could just be done with it all!” time. Before you say “ugh but I can’t meditate”, yes yes you 100% can. Don’t worry you’re NEVER going to stop your thoughts completely. That is not possible. What is possible though (and surprisingly simple) is what a huge difference it makes to give your brain just 15 minute of “settle down” time. My little sessions leave me feeling so refreshed, I keep thinking “why didn’t I know about this 10 years ago?!” My go-to meditation app is Ten Percent Happier, which also has a great Podcast. I never miss an episode. 

Ok, you’ve got a few little nuggets to help nudge you to where you want to go. Goooooo get em! I hope these were helpful and I’m so excited to support each other with heading toward our goals.

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