Life can be unpredictable, but habits give us the structure we need to offset that chaos, enabling us to thrive and grow. When we create a regular “space” in our day for a habit, it opens up an opportunity to tweak our lives for the better.
Even the smallest habits give us a dependable starting point for those all-important tweaks. From that sure footing, we gain the confidence to tackle the challenges that await.
To give a common example, going to the gym may not fit with someone’s routine, but it is always possible to focus on something more manageable. If they commit to a daily walk (of unspecified distance), they create a concrete window of opportunity for physical activity. Some days they might walk further than others, but the habit is firmly ingrained. The incremental effects have the potential to be significant.
Without the notion of challenging yourself or simply trying to commit to something, and caring enough to make it happen for the reward you will get from it, you will never know how high you can fly. The smallest habit can change into the most life-enhancing behavior, but you have to give it the platform for it to transform.
I personally love to create regular short habits of all kinds in my life.
I have always been a pretty organized person, and I enjoy getting a lot of things done, but as an adult, with a family that includes teenage kids, two dogs, and a business to run, there is always so much to get done that things can easily feel like they are taking over.
Creating a habit has to start from a place of silence and nothingness.
Just the simple act of stopping everything, including thought, and standing still for a moment in your life to take stock of what is going on in your life and where you want it to be going is a priceless act that takes just a few seconds. This introspection allows you to wipe the mental slate clean and ask yourself where you truly want to be. It is from that place that the answers come.
Once you have the seed of an answer, you simply need a little determination to change it into a habit. I know what I want to achieve, I have an idea of how I want to achieve it, and I am going to do this little thing on a regular basis to help me to get a little closer. When we intersperse our lives with subtle habits and change them to match our goals, we are raising our bar another notch on our own personal scale of success.
I have habits of all kinds, for example: cleaning habits that keep my surroundings free from clutter in most places, and in others (like my desk) it’s an organized mess that is always a work in progress. But my cleaning habits set up my life for success, so I feel better in that environment. To give another example, making space for creative pursuits such as gardening and making cards for my friends allows me time to open my heart to the world, receiving and feeling the beauty that is everywhere in all its forms.
Cultivating the habit
Habits are like automated software. Once introduced into the “program” of our daily or weekly routine, we can fix and forget issues with minimal effort. The habit is a trigger to decide on a behavior, and sometimes you might choose to do XYZ instead of ABC. Doing XYZ might make all the difference to your life at that point in time, but without the ingrained habit to trigger that behavior, you might not bring yourself to do it at all.
Little but often is a maxim that has always served me well, and in the case of habits, the smaller and more regular they are, the more potential there is for flexibility in your life. Cultivating habits allows you to transform everything, one subtle step at a time.