Aristotle once wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Do you have trouble developing good habits? We won’t talk about the ease with which we develop bad ones because I think most of us already know. Developing good habits is positive and constructive. I can’t really see anyone arguing with this at all so why then is it so hard to do?
We all want to do the right thing. Yet we struggle, often self-sabotaging ourselves by not following through with what it takes to make something happen. For example, I write things down, create schedules to house what needs to be done and then…nothing. I forget to check, or I write it on a scrap piece of paper which I promptly lose. Why? It makes no sense. I know better.
When I came across the post by Mareo I took it as a sign of some kind, so I read it. The second post by Clean Air Turbulence, following a similar thread, had me thinking I should pay strong attention to the signs the universe was sending me. 6 Unexpected Ways to Create Strong Habits— And Actually Keep Them, written by Mareo McCracken makes simple and practical suggestions. It’s about actions – they don’t take themselves. We have to choose to act. The only way forward is to understand what we want and why.
1. Develop clarity.
2. Start small.
3. Focus on routine.
4. Reward desired behaviour.
5. Journal your progress.
6. Find your super-supporter.
Clean Air Turbulence put up the following anagram. Like Mareo’s ideas it is about understanding the ins and outs of our behaviour and then working with what we learn to establish a better way to do what needs doing.
C – Clarify what the problem is.
L – Look for information and ideas.
E – Evaluate your options.
A – Act on your decision.
R – Review how it is working.
Both posts are very similar. The emphasis is on clarifying what we want to do and following through – find the problem, analyse it, and create an action. In my case the problem has been writing enough every day to complete my book. On reflection I realised the process of completion itself, is overwhelming me for whatever reason. It could be fear of failure, the amount of work itself; it could be many things. I decided to cut down to less words on the book, and more work on my blog instead. By taking a smaller step to the side where I could complete something with ease, I took the pressure off myself. Evaluating this I realised it would take longer to complete the book. On the other hand, I had a routine that I was now adhering to on a daily basis. Habits or routines need to be established or there is nothing to adhere to, is there?
To ensure I do maintain the habit I have a board holding me accountable and I tick it as I complete tasks. It is on view on my desk. In this way I can monitor my behaviour, review it, and choose the time right for me to increase my word count. Mareo mentions a journal. Despite thinking this an excellent idea I am very conscious of the need for starting small. For now, a tick to denote my accountability is enough. I think it prudent to work on one step at a time so the routine of journaling will come when the time is right for me.
Mareo’s Number 6 however, has been incredibly invaluable. He suggests finding a super-supporter. I have and the support is mutual. In fact I may be fortunate enough to have two and I treasure this. A true supporter will keep you consistent with your values and help ensure that your actions align with what is needed. Doing the same for them keeps you focussed.
These days it appears bad behaviours get rewarded. Wouldn’t it make more sense to reward good behaviour. That super-supporter is a reward just as you are theirs. Your routine is a reward – it gets things done. I’d like to leave you with some very pertinent quotes.
Oprah Winfrey says:
“surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher.”
“Habits help you do things consistently, without thinking about the entire process all the time. Habits can make or break you. The good thing is habits can be changed.”
Clean Air Turbulence says:
“Don’t make shit worse than it already is.”
Questions for me? Want to share your views and ideas? I’d love to hear from you so please leave me a comment and I will get back to you. A ‘like’ will do and it will keep me working hard to improve. Follow or connect with me at:
I just started reading the book ‘Atomic Habits’ by James Clear. Together with this post, I think I will learn a lot about habits these days.
Thanks for sharing Barb. I think a lack of motivation is often related to a lack of clarity. Be clear about what you want and then focus on the routine (habits) that will get you there. Don’t focus too much on how little you did during anyone day. Just put one step in front of the other. And if life gets in the way well tomorrow is another day. Beating ourselves up only makes things worse. Great post 🙏
Thank you. One step at a time.
I find establishing clear goals, accountability mechanisms and deadlines most effective for me:)
It’s all about discipline once the goals are established. Thank you for stopping by.
One of the reasons why I think some people have trouble with retirement is that their routine, their long time habits, are so disrupted. I find it’s a time for new explorations and new habits. Nice post !
Love the idea of new.
Excellent post Barb! They say it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. I think Mario’s list is spot on!
It is but my discipline is pretty shaky. 😂