Habits creep into our lives whether we’re intentional about it or not.
Everything we do can turn into a habit. Some habits will grab us more than others.
If we’re not careful we will become what we do everyday. Sometimes that can be a great thing. But most of the time we start doing something because of a slight change and before we know it we’ve been doing it for years.
That little idea you had with your spouse three years ago to get ice cream may have turned into a 3x per week deal. Now you’ve both got a little extra space around the waist.
If you’re looking for ideas to help change your habits then here is a short list to get you started.
1. Saying “No”
It’s easy to say yes to just about anything today. Sure, there are still times when we should tell people “yes” when we tell them “no” instead. That’s the type of thing that the Jim Carrey movie was about.
But there are plenty of things where the proper response is “no”. It really starts with the things you care about most. Your family and friends. Your work. Your one or two hobbies or interests.
Default to telling people “no” for a week or even a month. Pay attention to how your life changes. And not just to others, but to yourself. Don’t buy that shirt. Don’t take on that extra task at work. See what the effects are. Usually you’ll see positive change.
2. Picking Up Litter
One of my favorite shows in recent years was Longmire. He was always picking up litter. Not necessarily because it bothered him when others did it, but because it made him feel good.
We often think that changing the world requires huge acts. But it’s really the simple things like picking up litter consistently that causes change.
Do it for yourself.
3. Smiling At Other People
There are a lot of people looking down these days. When walking. When sitting in a meeting. Change that around and smile at people you encounter. When you’re walking into the office. When you’re checking out in the store. You can make people feel seen and heard by giving them a quick smile.
4. Telling Your Spouse Something They’re Good At
Just one thing every day. Or every other day. It’s easy to assume that the person you care about most has heard all the good things you have to say about them. But in reality we need five times more positive feedback than negative in life. And there is no better person to hear it from than the one we care about most.
Instead of parking in the spot closest to the entrance, take a little extra drive to the back of the parking lot. Then enjoy the walk into the building. It’s a little time to work in exercise and it really doesn’t add that much time to your day. There are lots of little ways like this that you can do to add walking into your regular routine. And you can always go for regular walks at home or at work too.
6. Sitting Outdoors
Take that lunch outside. Have your morning coffee on the porch. We all think about doing it. We see it on TV and in the movies. But we rarely do it. Sometimes just taking a moment to sit on the park bench can do wonders. Just soaking in the sun, the wind and the aromas all around.
Does anybody go dancing regularly anymore? I know that I’m guilty of not doing it. Maybe at the occasional wedding I’ll let loose. But it’s healthy to move your body around. Why not play some music while making dinner tonight. Dance with your family around the kitchen a little. You might even have a good laugh.
8. Same Bedtime
Focus on having the same bedtime each night. I’ve been learning about this one with my toddler. She definitely benefits from going to bed at the same time each night. I tried it myself. The same routine for her and for me every night. It not only helps her, but it definitely helps me feel more energy.
Not work/life balance. Although that is generally a good thing. It’s unique to everybody. I’m talking about balancing on one foot. Or climbing up on something that is a little unsteady and trying to balance. It works your core and lower body muscles. One tip: focus your eyes on one point. It’ll make balancing easier, I swear.
10. Identify Favorite Foods
One reason people struggle with dieting is they focus on what they can’t have. That will get you every time. You think about not eating that cupcake and then you have one. Then you have more. You’re worse off than before.
Instead, focus on what you can eat. If you’re going low-carb, for example, focus on all the delicious meats, nuts and cheeses you can have.
Habits are a reality for everybody. We all fall into them. It’s human nature. The key is to take a moment once in awhile to audit your habits. Then think about what you want from your life. Then change your habits accordingly. And don’t be too hard on yourself when you fall off a little. Just focus on getting back on a little at a time.