The only way to establish a habit is to put the action you want to become a habit into a routine. You’ll have to do the action enough times for it to become automatic. In order to do that, you have to focus on doing the action and not be distracted by other options. In other words, don’t give yourself the option of not doing the action you want to have become a habit.
For example, if you want exercise to be part of your routine, then you have to stop giving yourself options out of exercise. Options abound. Until exercise is a habit, your options will always look better than exercise. But if you’ll stay focused on what it is you want it'll be easier to establish that new habit of exercising every day.
Through the winter months, my husband Terry and I both got bad colds and we didn’t do much for almost a month. The weather was also nasty and even after we were feeling much better it seemed too rainy or just too cold and we’d opt out of our walk. And besides, we even had a bigger reason to opt out. A deer was mauled and killed by a cougar just a few homes away from us.
For several weeks after the kill, I found myself singing the “lions and tigers and bears, oh no” lyrics when I’d venture outside. Three months went by when I realized I needed to stop giving myself options out of walking. And I was becoming more lethargic as March began to beckon me out to walk.
I walked four days in a row (I took Buckley my neighbor’s big dog as cougar security) and when I invited Terry to walk on day five, it was so far out of his sight as a choice, you would have thought I’d asked him to join me in eating slugs for lunch.
Most of us are great option stoppers with our kids as we train them to have good manners, pick up after themselves, wipe their feet before they come in, cough into their arm and the list goes on and on. But when it comes to us adults, most of us aren’t so good at option stopping.
Since there’ll always be a little girl in us, we’ll always be facing that child as we continue to learn and grow in this life. We will be successful at establishing good habits when we find that we need to improve in an area, decide what it is we need to do to bring about that change, then do it in the face of sabotaging options.
The next time you make a decision to change and before it becomes a habit, stay awake, because you’ll be dancing down the road of life and you’ll merrily bump into a juicy option. Look it right in the eye and say, “Sorry, but I’m going to do what I planned to do, so be off with you."
Now go enjoy some time with your Snuggle Bunnies.
Question: Do you think it'll be easy to make exercise a part of your day if it isn’t right now? What’s stopping you from daily exercise?
If you are a parent, you are raising the future adults of this world and our next generation. It’s an awesome responsibility. Keep up the good work, don’t get too serious (your kids can help you with that) and learn something every day from them (they have much to teach us).
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