Making New Habits Stick

kitchenIn our constant quest to a better ourselves, we look to adopt new behaviors and habits. But new habits are hard to adopt especially when those new behaviors don’t feel all that rewarding for the amount of effort we’re putting into it. Take for example my goal to declutter my office by going to a paperless filing system. This was a habit I tried to adopt last year and it involved changing completely how I processed bills and accounts. The new habit involved different steps of scanning, shredding and saving vs. slipping the bill into a folder and filing by year and month – something I had done all my life. So, sticking to this habit was harder because it actually felt less satisfying and the reward for my new behavior was not immediately apparent. I still have folders filled with old files (my purging process is going slowly) so I wasn’t seeing a less cluttered filing cabinet – I just wasn’t adding to it. I am happy that I was able make this habit stick. I attribute my success in adopting this new habit to having created barriers to the old system. Basically, I made it almost impossible for me to revert to old ways by not setting up new folders. The only thing to do when a bill came it was to follow the new paperless procedures. I can see the reward now and it’s great to see that my files are not growing and bulging with paper!

 

Another new habit that was a bit easier to stick to was to have a clear and clean kitchen at all times. This meant that dishes were to be washed, dried, and put away – as soon as they were dirtied. This differed from my current habit of letting things pile up during the day and cleaning up at once, either in the evening or the next morning. This new habit required carving time every morning to clear breakfast dishes before heading off to work, and cleaning up right after dinner instead of watching television. But it wasn’t only dishes that cluttered the kitchen. The island had become the repository of the daily mail. By week’s end, half of the island surface was littered with mail. Sticking to my goal of a clear kitchen became especially challenging on long work days when all I wanted to do was to go to bed early and leave the dishes until morning and deal with the mail on the weekend. But, I would make myself stick to my new habit even when I had no desire to do it. Fortunately, for this new habit, the reward was pretty immediate – a clean uncluttered kitchen – aaah! An unexpected plus was that my husband began adopting the same behavior and is pitching in to keep the kitchen spotless.

 

So I learned that to stick to our new behaviors and create new habits two things will definitely help: 1) eliminate access or create barriers to old behaviors and 2) focus on the rewards of the new behaviors. If the rewards are not immediately apparent, then create rewards! I want to gain muscle tone and maintain my cardiovascular fitness this year. I know it will take several months before I see results so I have created rewards for myself. For example, I listen to my favorite mystery books on my iPod when I go out for a run, and only when I got out for a run. My love for mysteries is a great motivator and reward that will get me closer to the real reward of working out.

 

Adopting a new habit is hard work and it takes time.  If you slipped up, don’t sweat it. Just keep at it and hang in there!

 

Much Love,

 

 

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Creating A Vision Board

So the first quarter of the year is behind us and some of us (okay, me) have gotten off track from our annual goals. Weather, illness, schedule and plain-ol’ laziness are the culprits for not keeping up with my running goals. This week’s blog is a repost that is going to help me. It is written by my friend and guest blogger, Janie Montoya-Ledet. Janie has accomplished a lot in avery short time and she shares with us her recipe for success with the help of vision boards. Right now I need that visual cue to keep me committed and focused on my 2012 goals. I hope you will also find it useful. 

The beginning of a new year is a great time to set goals. Unfortunately, it’s so easy for New Year’s resolutions to be pushed aside and forgotten over time. Want a way to make them stick? Try vision boarding!

A vision board is a big board used to post your goals and dreams. The process of creating one helps you clarify the exact results you want to achieve. It also serves as a reminder and motivator every time you look at it.

Step 1. Write 4 or 5 specific goals

Write down your goals/dreams and leave plenty of space between them. Starting with too many can be overwhelming, sojust pick a few. You can always add more later.

Step 2. Envision/clarify results

Underneath each goal, write down the specific results you want. Ask yourself the following questions: How will I know I am finished achieving this goal? How will I measure my progress? How will I feel? What does it look like? Where do I picture myself when I’ve achieved my goal? What am I doing? For example, underneath “Get Healthy” , I might write “Feel sexy enough to wear a bikini to the pool this summer.” and “Meditate during yoga so my mind is peaceful and happy”. Try to stay focused on positive action statements instead of writing down things you wish to avoid. For instance, instead of “Eat less junk food”, change it to “Eat more fruits and vegetables”. This will help you prepare for the next step.

Step 3. Gather supplies

You will need:

Cork board (or a large poster board)

Stack of magazines

Scissors

Thumb tacks (or tape)

 

Go through the magazines and clip pictures that will remind you of your goals. Cut out large words or numbers if they are important to the goal, but if possible use exclusively pictures. They are much more descriptive than words. Scrap booking aisles are a great place to find stickers you can use. I recommend cutting out stickers and not peeling them off of their backing so you can move them around and enable yourself to reuse the cork board later.

 

Step 4. Put pictures on your board

Using the thumbtacks (or tape), place the pictures onto your board in groups. As you work, new goals or ideas will probably come to you. Add as much as you want, and re-arrange as needed. If you think of another image you can use, go back to the previous step and gather more pictures. On my first vision board, I replaced a picture of a baby boy with some little pink baby girl footprints, and

within 2 months I was pregnant with a baby girl. Be specific!

 

Step 5. Hang it

Hang your board somewhere you will see it daily. Hanging it in the kitchen is a good idea if you wish to enlist the help of your friends and family in achieving your goals. If your goals are a little bit more private, perhaps a bedroom or closet is a more suitable place to hang it. If you feel an urge to hide it, ask yourself why. Showing it to someone you trust, may help you move closer to your goal. There is something very powerful about broadcasting your desires out into the universe.

 

Step 6. Celebrate

Accept progress towards your goals in whatever form it comes. Sometimes you will achieve a feeling that you wanted (e.g. happiness, peace-of-mind) in some other way than what you originally wrote on your list of goals. Recognize and celebrate each time you achieve something on your board. Once your goal is completed, remove it to make room for another goal, or add another picture if you’d like to work on another aspect of the same goal.

 

I read this blog frequently, so post any questions or comments about vision-boarding and I will respond. Good luck!

Much Love,