Today is the first of July, which means a few things: it’s Canada Day over here, Beyond the Dinner Table just celebrated it’s 6-month anniversary(!), and we’re already half way through 2016! This also means it’s time to pull out those S.M.A.R.T.Y. goals and check on your progress towards achieving them. Whether it’s big or small, I hope you are feeling encouraged by your progress. However, I know some of you are feeling a little disappointed, and perhaps others have given up on goal-setting completely. But whether you’re feeling fantastic or frustrated about them — remember why you once wrote the goals. I’m guessing at one time you believed a certain goal was a priority, and the outcome of achieving it was truly valuable to you. If a specific goal is no longer important to you — throw it out! On the other hand, if you want to make that goal a reality, keep reading!
Habits. We’ve all got them. Good habits… and the habits we wish we never started. The truth is habits make up 40% of your and my daily activities. So this gives us two options. We can either choose to use these automatic behaviours to increase productivity and motivation towards accomplishing our goals, or we can let the unfavourable habits get in the way of our dreams. (I prefer the former.) I love how Gretchen Rubin said it in a recent StartupCamp podcast, “Habits can be energizing and be a real tool, because they can get us out of the really difficult, draining work of making decisions and using our self-control.”
Let's say your goal at the beginning of year was to run five days each week and train for a specified half marathon…
Without habits in place, your thought pattern might sound something like this: (Morning alarm goes off.) It’s 6:00 am. I better get up if I want to run this morning. Well, maybe I’ll just sleep another half hour. (One hour passes, and you roll over to look at the time.) Oh no! I’m going to be late for work if I exercise now. I’ll just go after work. And… maybe my husband can pick up the kids after school from soccer practice! (Five o’clock rolls around.) Time to go to the gym! Oh wait, we had dinner plans with mom. I’ll just squeeze in my run after dinner. (Dinner runs a tad over. Once home, it’s time for bedtime routines and snuggles — during which you try your best to avoid glancing at the clock every few seconds.) Aaaah. The kids are in bed! Time to relax! Except… I was going to run. Well, I’m pretty tired. Maybe I’ll run tomorrow.
Face it. Decision-making can be exhausting. I got tired just reading that paragraph!
However, if you use habits to your advantage, the day looks a little different: (Morning alarm goes off.) It’s 6:00 am. Time to get up for my morning run. (So you get up as part of your morning routine and go for a run.)
Good habits energize us by taking the guesswork out of the everyday, mundane decision-making. If you want exercise to be routine, pick a time to hit the gym that fits your family’s lifestyle and schedule — and go with it! Want to read more? Make it a habit of reading fifteen minutes before bedtime instead of scrolling through the Facebook homepage. Was one of your health goals to cook more and eat less takeout? Give weekly meal planning a try.
Good habits help us think less about things that don’t matter and do more about things that do matter.
So you’ve decided you want to form some new habits and give those S.M.A.R.T.Y. goals a second chance. Here’s what to do next:
Remember — habits are not formed overnight! In one research study, Phillippa Lally and her research colleagues found that it took 66 days on average before a new behaviour ran on auto-pilot — and that’s just an average. It actually took participants anywhere from 18 to 254 days before new habits were formed. That being said, don’t be intimidated by those numbers. If the goals you’ve written and the habits you want to form can truly lead to a happier and healthier life, they’re worth pursuing. They are worth the extra effort. Those habits are worth starting today.
Now it’s your turn! What are some new habits you would like to form? Let me know in the comment section below, and be sure to share on Facebook if you found this post encouraging or helpful!
Hi! I'm Erin – a follower of Christ, wife, mama of two, and registered dietitian. Welcome to my blog where I write about intentional motherhood, intuitive eating, inspired discipleship, and whatever else I feel like! I'm so glad you're here.
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