Leo Babauta runs a website called Zen Habits, which eventually led to a book called The Power of Less. According to his blog, "Zen Habits is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, [and] find happiness."
While the idea that it takes 28 days of repetition to create a habit is contested by some scientists, the concept of repetition being key to habit-building is true. Normally, I associate habit-building with discrete actions: working out, flossing, etc. However, when I read The Power of Less, I began to think about habit-building to enrich my personal growth. But I started with a "normal" habit to see if I could make the system work.
I began with flossing. I made a to do "Habit: Flossing" and made it due every day, priority 1. Every day, I was happy to check that off first thing in the morning, and it started my day off on the right foot. Ignoring how long building a habit might take, I let the to do repeat every day until it actually began to annoy me to check off something that I had done so automatically. It was a "check off" that no longer had any value to me because it would be like checking off "wake up in the morning."
After I knew I could build a habit using this method, I began to focus on more personal growth-oriented habits, one or two a month depending on the habit (disclaimer: author suggests only one habit per month).
I created a list called "Growth." I added ideas to it from The Power of Less and the Zen Habits blog (http://zenhabits.net/simple-living-manifesto-72-ideas-to-simplify-your-life/). Some are action-oriented, and some are more mind-set-oriented. For each idea I had, I made a to do "Habit: X" with no due date. Just collecting ideas. As each new month approaches, I look at the list, and see what I would like to improve that month. Once I decide on a mission, I set the due date for the first of the month, set it to repeat every day, and see how I do. It's not always successful on the first go around (AKA: "Habit: Be an Early Riser"), but I'm a better person than I was.
Here are some samples from my list:
Habit: Exercise for 5 minutes
Habit: Eat slowly and chew food better
Habit: Eat one veggie
Habit: Train dog for Canine Good Citizenship Test
Habit: Be early
Habit: Follow an evening routine
Habit: Put things where they belong
Habit: Meditate for 5 minutes
Habit: Will this simplify my life?
Habit: Single task (instead of multi-tasking)
Etc etc etc
Go forward and be a better, happier, more productive person!
Posted at 7:17pm on August 29, 2012