This week, I had a really fun opportunity to go teach about habits to 9th graders at my local high school, it was so fun!
I loved every minute!
What was most fascinating was talking with these 9th graders about the types of habits that we should try to develop.
It’s not surprising that the types of habits they talked about and said that they really ought to focus on.
It’s the habits that are difficult things. Things that are really challenging. Things that really push us.
That’s part of our culture.
When I talk with my little eight-year-old daughter and she’s trying to do some multiplication or division, or some other type of homework and she says, “Dad it’s really hard” I usually respond by saying “Zella, you can do hard things!”
We talk about doing hard things and overcoming!
The challenges is, that when it comes to implementing this into our habits…
we’re not really great at doing hard things consistently!
We may be able to stretch and push and grow ourselves a little bit in one grand push.
But, when we want to start building habits, the most successful way to build new habits is to go against the mental approach of “I’m going to do something big and difficult and it’s going to take all the motivation I got.”
Research shows we are more successful when we go the other way and say, “I’m going to start small and consistent because”
Small and consistent will win over time, the reason for this is that
small action beats great intention!
If you want to do 100 pushups in a day and you end up doing zero that grand intention, did you very little good.
But if you decide you’re going to do, five pushups today, and you do the five pushups, you’ve made progress!
If you plan a big, grand act for charity for your community and you sit down and think about it, that’s great.
But if you just sit there and think about it, it really doesn’t do anything.
If, on the other hand, you do one small act of charity for a family member or a neighbor you’ve improved your life, you’ve improved their life, you’ve improved our community.
You don’t need to do anything huge, it doesn’t need to be some big thing.
All successful big things are made up of consistent small things. Today’s post is about the size of habits you want to focus on.
I went to goskills.com and got their list of common New Year’s resolutions. We will talk through some of these resolutions, and I’ll give you some recommendations on the size of habit that you want to start with.
I will note that just because you start small doesn’t mean you stay small. If you have a goal to get stronger, you might start with the habit of five pushups, a day. You’re probably not going to end three years from now, a year from now, at five pushups, but that’s how you get started.
The most popular resolution is to exercise more and lose weight.
Raise your hand if that is you!
What’s the habit and what’s the size habit I should start if I want to exercise more in 2022?
For the right size habit, a great place to start would be:
“I put on my exercise clothes every day.”
I just put them on.
That’s my first habit and some days I put on my exercise clothes, I look at the clock, I say “I’m late, I gotta get going!” I take off my exercise clothes, I take a shower, I get ready for work, and I go.
But I have done my habit.
I’ve put on my exercise clothes.
Now more times than not, you will put on those exercise clothes and then you will be driven to exercise.
That happened for me this morning took my son to basketball practice at 6:00 AM. I got back and I immediately put on my exercise clothes.
Now I could have laid down and fallen back asleep until seven o’clock when I would have to get myself up to get ready for the day but NO! Not today!
I had my exercise clothes on I put on my cycling shoes, and I was ready!
I was up, I was moving, I had started some momentum in my day, and so I hit the exercise bike.
Often, if I put on my clothes, I’ll hit the exercise bike.
But that’s not my first habit. My first habit is not run a 5K or exercise for 30 minutes every day or exercise for 45 minutes every day or complete p90x.
That’s not my habit for exercise more because that is such an enormous goal that most days, I will end up with intention, but no action.
But put on my exercise clothes, I can do that every day and most days the momentum will build off of it to where I actually exercise.
Same with losing weight. What is the right size for a goal to help lose weight?
I can try for some drastic thing, but if you really want to lose weight a simple, easy habit of eat two fruits, a day will start you on the path of making changes in your eating process and losing weight.
Most of us we don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.
By starting small, if you eat one fruit and one vegetable a day, and that is all you focus on, that will likely replace some other things you are eating that are hurting your weight loss goals.
I put this into practice last night.
I have terrible late night eating habits!
I came downstairs, it’s late at night, I know I should just go get in bed, but I don’t. I always head to the kitchen. I did the same thing last night!
But last night I grabbed a little cutie!
And I peeled and ate the little cutie.
Now, it would be better if I didn’t eat anything, I know, but a little cutie is much better than three bowls of Captain crunch berries with marshmallows!
So, I’m doing better I felt better about it. As a bonus…the scale indicated this morning that I was doing better!
Start off with a small habit one fruit one vegetable a day.
Is that going to be the end of everything that I would have to do to lose weight? No but it gets me started.
It gets me going. It builds momentum, and I find that when I’m conscious of eating a little bit healthier, then I continue to eat a little bit healthier throughout the day and I make better food choices throughout the day.
Tiny Exercise Habit: put my exercise clothes on every day.
Lose Weight Habit: eat one fruit eat one vegetable every single day.
Another resolution listed on goskills.com is to spend more time with family and friends
What’s the easiest thing I could do to do to focus on more quality time with those I love?
For me it’s:
Plug my phone in my office at 6pm.
Every day, immediately following dinner, I am going to plug my phone in in my office for an hour or 30 minutes.
That doesn’t guarantee that I’m going to spend more time with my friends and family but for me it eliminates the biggest distraction to that goal.
Maybe you’ve had an experience similar to mine where my family is sitting in the same room and four out of the five of us are sitting on our phones.
We’re all sitting in the same room, we’re just all on our phones.
The easiest habit if you want to spend more time with my family is immediately after dinner, plug in your phone and walk away.
The last resolution we will cover is to read more.
By now you know that we will focus on the easiest, simplest habit to read!
What is small habit? Read one page a day!
I got a great book as a Christmas present from my daughter this year.
The book is called The Story of a Soul, the Autobiography of the Little Flower.
It’s about a Catholic nun St. Therese. It’s a fascinating story of her life and her commitment to small individual acts of kindness.
My habit is to read one page every day
As you might guess, some days I read more than one page, but I always read at least one.
No matter how difficult it is, no matter how busy I am, I can crank through one page and then I know I got my one page in today.
No matter what else happens, I can go to bed feeling like I’ve accomplished my one page!
Whatever your habit, go smaller!
With all of these resolutions, the key is go smaller, go smaller, go smaller!
You’re going to think it’s too small, that a small act can’t really make a difference, that something as simple as one page a day can’t make any change in my life.
But one thing done 365 times is a lot of things! If you just did one small thing every day, this year, your progress would be significant.
Significantly better than what your progress was last year!
The reason we have it as a resolution, the reason we want to have these things as our goal for 2022 is because it’s an area where we want to do more, do better, and feel better.
If we were already doing great, it wouldn’t be our resolution.
It’s our resolution because we’re not doing fantastic and a little bit is better than nothing, a small action is better than a big intention.
So focus in on doing one small thing: read one page, put on your exercise clothes, eat one fruit and one vegetable a day, put your phone away for an hour from six to seven
Pretty soon you’re going to notice you are doing more of the things you like.
More of the things that help you be happier. Small acts that bring happiness!
For a little bit of help on this, click here to get the free Happily Ever Habits guide and I’ll walk you through creating an individual habit that you want to improve on how to make it the right size and how to be consistent in actually doing it this year.