Note: In October, I’m doing a month-long treatise on habits. All of the posts will be found here if you’d like to read them in order.
Back here, I shared my habits with you. I mentioned briefly that these were the habits I try to cultivate the most. That doesn’t mean, of course that these are the only habits I have. Some habits are so ingrained I hardly think of them. Washing my hands after using the bathroom, for instance. Hopefully most adults don’t have to work at this one, because their parents spent months diligently teaching them this habit while they were potty training.
[Oh, wait. I just had to Google this for a second. Turns out that one study says that not all adults have this habit after all: 90 percent of women wash their hands, compared with only 75 percent of men. Ew.]
Speaking of ingrained habits that not all people share, I’m in the habit of always closing doors after I open them: cabinet doors, dresser drawers, etc. Not everyone has this habit. My husband doesn’t, and it drives me a little batty. What is so HARD about closing a cabinet door? Nothing – it’s effortless, like flushing a toilet – if it’s your habit.
I make an effort to work on these particular habits because they have the biggest impact on my life and happiness, and they aren’t the things that necessarily come naturally, nor are they easy. Reading a lot of books is a habit I love, and so I don’t have to “work at it“. Therefore, it’s not on my list of good habits to cultivate daily.
Here are the habits I’m working on right now, separated by how well I’m doing in each – starting with the habits I’m acing:
- Get up early – this has become so important to me, I can’t imagine ever changing this habit!
- Write a blog post – actually doing 2 a day at this point
- Read aloud to kids
- Daily movement – doing excellent on this one, but when it gets cold it will be a struggle
- Make to-do list for next day – always, I love how this makes me feel
These are the ones that need some work:
- Read Bible – ouch, I fail in this regard frequently
- Practice French – pas bon – not good
- Clean stove – most days
- Floss – 2-3 out of 4 days at this point, needs work
- Wash, moisturize face before bed – not regularly enough
(I’ll share in a future post my plans for making these habits more consistent.)
Another thing my habits have in common is that they all create spillover.
As an example: “Clean the Stove”. I clean the kitchen a few times a day out of routine and because a nasty kitchen drives me nuts when I cook. It’s natural and easy for me to tidy up and wipe the countertops. But I usually procrastinate about or forget the stove. A dirty stove makes me grumpy, especially when I wake up in the morning and see it first thing. Something about facing a grimy stove covered with crumbs puts me in a sour mood. So, I created the habit of cleaning my stove every night before bed. And because of the spillover effect, a clean stove leads to a cleaner kitchen overall.
Therefore, my advice on picking good habits you want to work at developing is this: make a list of things that you really want to do but that don’t come easy to you. Pay special attention to habits that would create spillover.
Later on, I’m going to talk about how to make those new habits stick, and how I create accountability.
How did you pick the habits you focus on?