Want to Master the Habits of Your Everyday Life?

Are you having trouble creating new habits that “stick”? Or eliminating bad ones? In her book Better Than Before, bestselling author Gretchen Rubin outlines a series of suggestions on habits. Let me share a list of the ideas that resonated most with my own habit formation practices:\r\n\r\n• “We [often] fail [to form a habit] because we want to reap its benefits without paying the price.” We may want to lose weight without improving our eating and exercise habits. As the saying goes, “no pain, no gain.”\r\n• “To shape our habits successfully, we must know ourselves.” For example, are you a morning or evening person? I know I am the former, so I try to get an early start every day. However, I see other people who are more energetic in the evening hours. Leverage your own preferences and “hardwiring” to maximize the odds of successful habit formation.\r\n• “Every action, every habit has consequences.” We should feel accountable for our actions, regardless of whether they are part of a good or bad habit. It’s up to us to decide if we want to improve or not. As part of my professional coaching practice, I notice that keeping clients honest with their commitments increases the chances of achieving them.\r\n• “Bad habits can be easy to create, though they make life harder, while good habits can be hard to create, though they make life easier.” I see this connected with the concept of delayed gratification, which I covered in a previous post (How Can You Develop Your Accountability Muscles?) We have a choice to make: Go for short-term easy choices or for harder decisions that are good for the long-term.\r\n• Avoid the victim syndrome: “Learn how to guard against excuses and justifications.” For example, is it easier for you to give something up all at once, or to do it gradually? I have a weakness for candy bars. I have tried both strategies: abstinence and moderate consumption. The latter doesn’t work for me. As long as I know there is candy bars at home, I am at risk of overindulging, so my best solution is to avoid having them at home.\r\n• “Make it easy to do right and hard to do wrong.” For example, if you want to exercise, what can you do to make it easier? In my case, it is easier to exercise first thing in the morning than later in the day. As I have covered in a previous post (“The Sacred First Hours of the Day”), I know that whatever I don’t get don’t get done early in the day runs the risk of not happening. Same principle may apply to going to a gym. Is it more convenient for you to stop on your way back from work vs. returning to your house and potentially running into other activities that could result in skipping the gym?\r\n• Develop contingency plans to safeguard against habit challenges. This is about “anticipating and minimizing temptations.” I try to answer emails in batches vs. upon arrival. This helps me be more productive. Tactics that have helped me improve are to disable the notification of arriving emails, scheduling blocks of time during the day to work on emails, and closing down my email application when working on something else.\r\n\r\nI welcome your reactions and examples.\r\n\r\nPercy M. Cannon\r\nAuthor, Consultant, Facilitator & Coach\r\nwww.cannon.consulting

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