On Monday, I started talking about the powerful transformation that can happen when you commit to a particular habit. The first step is defining your personal philosophy or mantra- the feeling and motivation behind your small daily actions. Personally, I've always craved routine and habit. Growing up, I was committed to my dance schedule and practiced several times a week. Although we had tons of fun, I didn't always want to go to class. At the end of the season, we started winning. A lot. It was a direct result of the hours we had committed to our art. You might have experienced this with saving money, practicing an instrument, or committing to your career. The beauty of the slight edge is that time is on your side if you use it wisely.
The next logical step after you create your personal philosophy is to actually cultivate the habits that matter. Olson recommends starting to implement positive habits in seven areas: health, happiness, relationships, personal development, finances, career, and your positive impact on the world. Since I had already been using Lift, I had some habits in place already but decided to build on them after finishing The Slight Edge. I also went through my Year Designer to identify any goals that could benefit from daily action and added those.
I use the Lift App to track my daily habits. It's a brilliantly designed app that is simple, clean, and effective. You could also just write your habits as a checklist, journal daily, or have an accountability partner. With Lift, you can have "friends" to support and encourage your goals. Isaiah and I both use it and daily ask each other how we're doing.
Currently, I have 16 habits that serve me and my family. They are all extremely simple. Easy to do, and easy not to do. I know that doing these small daily disciplines is what will help push me out of survival mode and into success. My habits below are listed in order of my day, how I would typically structure my day.
- WAKE: rise at 7am, before Rowan and Isaiah.
- SIP: drink a glass of h20 first thing upon rising, bonus points for adding lemon & sea salt
- BRUSH: brush and floss, morning and night
- SIMPLIFY: start my work day by sitting down at my office desk, opening my Simplified Planner to look over my schedule for the day and write a to-do list.
- BREATHE For me, this can mean either a guided meditation, a pause for a few deep breaths or anything in between. The focus is on centering myself and focusing on the present moment.
- CLEAR: Getting my inbox to zero by offering responses that are quick, marking longer replies as to-do, and categorizing e-mails from clients that don't need a response.
- THANK: At this point in my day (around 10 or 11), I like to send an e-mail with a thanks, make a phone call, or just express gratitude.
- COOK: one of my goals this year is to cook something every day. Doesn't matter which meal, but I've been cooking around dinner.
- MINT: we use mint for our budgeting and personal finance. I've found that it's easiest to keep up with categorizing spending if I login to the account everyday on my phone or iPad.
- PLAY: Now before all of you who aren't parents jump on my case, read this article. It's a goal of mine to spend an hour a day playing and reading with Rowan. No phone, TV, or secondary activities. I'll talk more about this when I go over my daily schedule next month.
- TIDY: if our kitchen is 100% clean at least once a day, it's always manageable. I also like to do a quick clean of my office and living room daily.
- SWEAT: this habit is strictly for vigorous exercise like running, a For the Glow workout at home, or Pilates.
- TRACK: I've been tracking my daily intake and exercise with My Fitness Pal since before Christmas. It's so easy for me to justify just one more glass of wine, so this app helps keep my portions in check. At the end of the day I check this habit if I've accurately logged my intake.
- KISS This habit helps me to remember to pay attention to my marriage, think about what Isaiah needs, and how to nurture our relationship. Kissing always helps. :)
- STRETCH: we have been doing a 15 minute relaxation yoga and found that our sleep is more restful and muscles more loose (surprise, surprise!)
- READ: any book, at least 5 minutes. It's not much but I've already finished three books this year. Blogs and magazines don't count.
Easy to do, easier not to do. You don't need 16 habits to start, or any magic number. Identify your goals and the habits will almost jump out at you! Habit creates momentum, remember that time is on your side even when your habits feel draining or mundane. Since I've been tracking my habits, I've quickly noticed the ones that are the hardest for me (waking up at 7? seems impossible). Plus, I try to remember this and that helps. ;)
I hope this mini series is helping you think about the seemingly insignificant actions that make up your day to day life. On Friday I will be posting the final segment on this series on the power of habit, this time from the perspective of an entrepreneur and work at home mama. Make your day count!