Making Success Out of Habits

February 12, 2018

It’s mid-February—do you know where your goals are? Are you still working towards them, or have you become discouraged or distracted? 

The excitement of a new year has worn off by now, and most of us are faced with the reality of ongoing effort, of putting one foot in front of the other. Have we made it easy—or at least easier—to be successful in pursuit of our goals and dreams? Have we put in place habits and routines that support reaching them?

I’ve been thinking about habits and routines a lot lately for two reasons:

First, we now have little Luna to teach and take care of, and as we train her, we try to set her up for success—by walking her often, keeping her contained and under supervision (so she doesn’t get into too much trouble!), and praising her when she does things we like. We have a regular schedule, with feeding times (her favorite), play time in the back yard, short obedience training sessions, time she spends quietly in her dog crate, and plenty of praise, cuddling, and petting. We want to make it easy for her to do right, to reach her goal (which we set for her, because…she’s a DOG) of living happily with humans. Having a set routine not only helps her to learn what to do when and what we expect of her, it helps us shape her behavior.

Second, my own routine has been thrown off by the demands of Luna’s routine! At least for now, I have to create new habits and routines to suit my altered situation. It’s a great exercise in flexibility, which I admit I’m not skilled in.

Whatever your goal is, what habits can you develop that will lead to success? If you want to be an artist, are you sketching, painting, or sculpting every day (or most days)? If you want to write a book, are you sitting down with pen and paper or at your computer and getting the words down? If you want to be healthier, are you taking a daily walk, or eating more vegetables, or drinking a glass of water when you wake up? If you want to read more books, are you turning off the TV or computer and setting aside time to read? These habits, this dailyness, leads you forward toward the inevitable: reaching your goal of a finished sketchbook, a healthier body, or an enviable Books Read list.

So if you want to use habits and routines to reach your goals:

  • Choose a habit—it can be as small as you like, as long as you commit to doing it daily or almost every day.

  • Practice your habit until it becomes a routine. 

  • And when your routine is disrupted (which will happen sooner or later), do what you can to maintain some semblance of habit during the disruption. If this isn’t possible, don’t stress about it—just return to your established routine when you can.

What habits and routines do you find most helpful? What habits and routines do you plan to put in place in order to reach your goals?

Ready for action

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