Habits vs Resolutions

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”

~ Aristotle

New Year’s resolutions rarely yield lasting change, but consistently cultivating a new habit can bring wonderful results. There is an absolutely life-changing book by Stephen Guise that you might enjoy – Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results. Its premise is that if you commit to do something for just 5 to 10 minutes a day, a marvelous metamorphosis will take place.

Here are a few habits that could make a huge difference in your life. Don’t tackle the entire list at once; just choose one or two that you aren’t already doing. Small and simple changes produce incredible results.

  • Drink two glasses of water as soon as you get up and one before each meal.
  • Make your bed each morning, and then you will have a little achievement before you even walk out the door. Even if it ends up being an extremely difficult day, you will come home to a beautifully made bed.
  • Brush & floss regularly. Schedule regular dental checkups. When my father was nearing the end of his life, he made an interesting request of me. He had been faithful with his dental hygiene all his life. He was incredibly grateful to have all his teeth in his later years. He had noticed that many people his age didn’t have the choppers to be able to eat some of their favorite foods anymore. He asked that at his funeral I put in a plug for people to brush their teeth after every meal and floss once a day. I gladly honored his wishes. I will be forever grateful for my wonderful Daddy. He taught me many things during his lifetime: he taught me how to sing, how to be fully present and live in the moment, how to take time out of my busy schedule for recreation, and last but not least, how important it is to take care of my teeth.
  • Work hard at your job and carry out your responsibilities with complete integrity. Don’t take credit for someone else’s work. Do your part so that others don’t have to clean up a mess because you didn’t completely follow through.
  • Walk for 30 minutes before you eat lunch.
  • Make social connections. Group activities can help keep the mind active, provide emotional support, and create a sense of belonging.
  • Listen more attentively. Look into people’s eyes. Instead of thinking about what you’re going to say next, listen with the intent of being able to restate what you heard them say. If you misunderstood anything, ask them to clarify.
  • Invite friends to exercise with you instead of always meeting for a meal, it is more emotionally fulfilling.
  • Always put your keys in the same place. I put my keys at the foot of my bed when I get home. If ever I need to remember to get something out of the fridge at work before going home, I’ll leave my keys on top of the fridge so I can’t drive home unless I’ve remembered where my keys are and why they’re there.
  • Have a specific place for your mail. Go through it at the same time every day and do whatever needs to be done so that nothing slips through the cracks. For example, if you receive an insurance underwriting request and ignore it, your policy will be canceled, if you miss a bill from the dentist it will go to collections, etc.
  • Simplify – Throw out or give away the things you don’t love or don’t use anymore. Once I hired a Professional Organizer. In the three months we worked together, 22 truckloads of stuff were hauled away from my house – 15 went to the thrift store and 7 to the dump. It was amazing!
  • Accept yourself exactly as you are. Forgive yourself when you make mistakes. Be gentle with yourself!
  • Reserve blocks of time in your calendar to be at home and relax.
  • Eat one really healthy meal every day. Choose to eat and drink good wholesome foods that give your body the energy and nutrition you need.
  • Sit down and eat dinner as a family. This can be a very good thing if you have teenagers; you’ll have a reason to sit and talk to each other for at least ten minutes.
  • Hang up and put away your clothes as soon as you take them off. It takes so little time to do this instead of spending twenty minutes hanging up a pile of clothes that have accumulated over several days.
  • Plan your day the night before – take a look at your calendar and mentally prepare for the next day. Ask yourself what might be challenging or be a trouble spot. Are there any preparations you can do the night before? This will help your day run more smoothly. I have a little whiteboard beside my bed. I get way more accomplished each day because I take a few minutes to plan the night before. Somehow my to do list is already half done mentally; then my brain works on it all night long. It’s curious to watch how I magically find spaces to easily fit things into an extremely busy day, because I discipline myself to do a little forward planning.
  • Lay out the clothes you’re going to wear the next day. On Sunday I choose what I’m going to wear for the next seven days. Occasionally I’ll change mind and wear something that’s not in the lineup, but it sure makes my mornings go smoother when I don’t have to spend 15 minutes deciding what to wear.
  • Keep a Journal. Journaling unlocks creativity, accelerates goal manifestation and clears negative emotions. Write about what you did that day, what you’re feeling, what’s bothering you and the action steps you plan to take in the near future. It’s extremely therapeutic.
  • Get enough sleep. “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” is extremely accurate. Problems seem overwhelming at the end of a difficult day. Just go to bed and work on things in the morning when you’re fresh and you’ll have much more success.

Just like Phil, Bill Murray’s character in Groundhog Day, doing something just a little bit differently each day can transform your life.