Think of little everyday tasks (habits) you do already without needing any impressive amount of motivation or inspiration – brush your teeth, shower, scoop your cat’s litter box or take your dog for a walk. If you miss a day, you don’t get overly bummed; you just pick it right back up.
Those are all things that require some sort of self discipline, right? So, you know you have it in you to do this.
Pick something simple that perhaps nags at you regularly. You just haven’t put your mind to it. One of mine at one time was wiping down my kitchen counters every night. Stupid right? But there it was and I would spend time every weekend -more or less depending on when the buildup pissed me off enough – making this Big Production out of cleaning the counters. Or, I could eliminate that aggravation stage and the Big Production and just spend what I have calculated amounts to 2 minutes every night.
Do I skip nights every now and then? Sure. You are sick or too tired, or get home from somewhere too late and motivation is unreachable. No worries. Just pick it up again the next day. It’s a small thing, so I don’t beat myself up about not doing it. Which? Actually makes it easier to keep doing because I am NOT making a huge deal of it.
Let’s think of another small one related to your health – you are looking to improve your diet let’s say. In my case in the last two years I knew I needed to reduce my sugar intake to bring my triglyceride levels down. Even though in the grand scheme of things I didn’t have that much in my daily routine, it was still more than my body could process. So, I targeted one item. I was having a soda with lunch at work every day. I replaced that with soda water. Still got the bubbles to clear my palette after eating, but eliminated the sugar (or substitute if you drink diet) content. A small change that meant a small weight loss (2lbs) and contributed to bringing the triglyceride levels down to one my doctor liked. Again, not always perfect and might still treat myself to a soda once a weekend (though often now I don’t even do that), but since I didn’t make a huge deal out of it, it became an easy switch.
So there are two examples – one of developing a new, small habit and one of substituting one bad habit for a better one. (IMHO it is better to think of REPLACING a habit than just trying to break it entirely).
My first habit that I choose to take on in 2013 relates to a major goal I want to reach which is to be more in control of my money and to reduce my stress related to finances. What I want to do is to make it fun again – I want some play money. Ok, I really just want Amazon Prime and a Kindle Fire HD so I can borrow and read books whenever and wherever I want! But really, that’s a good, small, achievable goal. And getting there will get me in the habit of being disciplined about saving money for other small-medium sized fun things.
Yesterday on twitter, a friend shared this savings table and I immediately loved it:
So perfect for me! It will allow me to reach my fun little goal and then some (birthday gifts, heck even Christmas 2013 would be largely covered) if I stick with it. I have a lock box under my bed that I was going to put spare cash/change into every day, but this gives me an actual guide to follow. I can see where I should be week to week. I may not follow the pattern exactly (since some weeks will be easier than others to save), but I will do my best to keep up with the total. For instance, I’ve already got $3 in the kitty which puts me at week 2 before the end of week 1 🙂
That’s it for me for a new habit for now. Notice I said, for now?
Because I also don’t believe that January is the ONLY time you can make these changes. In fact, we will revisit this topic again in February to see what else might be possible or needed in other areas.
So – what will you pick this month? Share with me in the comments or take on this topic on your own blog and let’s see how we are doing together. Remember, keep it small and entirely possible and don’t get discouraged if you are not perfect. But DO feel good about doing it and starting a new way of thinking about even the smallest of things.
Trust me – old dogs CAN learn new tricks and your brain can totally handle this.
I’ve substituted regular chips for kale chips (starting about six months ago). They definitely aren’t as satisfying as sour cream and onion chips, but they do give a bit of a crunch, and get a lot of my vitamins in that I otherwise would not have consumed. Making better decisions is better than not changing at all!
I’m taking it by small steps this year too. For this month, my goal is to get up early. I love the early morning hours, and when I get up early, everything else seems to fall into place (yoga, meditation, exercise, etc.). I’ve been successful about half the time, but I’m giving myself some leeway on this one because it’s winter and the sunrise isn’t until almost 8:00 am. I may have to keep redefining “early” as “before the sunrise.”