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Creating Habits, Routines, and Rituals

Habit / hab·it a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. "we stayed together out of habit"

One thing I've been focusing on the past year or so has been habits. It's funny the more I work on them, the deeper I get and the more I've learned how POWERFUL they can truly be. From brushing your teeth, to how you talk to yourself, your habits help you live your life.

Habits can be helpful or harmful - they can be positive or negative - and shifting your habits while it sounds simple can be quite difficult. But the effort you put in will pay you back with dividends with the new habits you've formed.

Some habits that I have that are growing well:

  • Daily mindfulness meditation

  • Daily (or almost) devotional and prayer time

  • Individual time with my boys

  • Daily gratitude calendar

Some habits that I'm working on:

  • Getting outside to walk everyday

  • Reading for fun

  • Finding and claiming more time for myself

So what am I doing to work on these - well a variety of things actually. I've been tinkering with my habits by using my goal-planning power sheets from Cultivate What Matters for the past couple of years. (This is a fun tool, from a small woman owned business, please support them - right now they have a GREAT sale too Jan 20!) In addition I have been reading. Last year I read Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit and then this year I just finished James Clear's book Atomic Habits. I am a big podcast listener, and various podcasts I listen to also cover the topic of habit from time to time.

I've learned that one of the key factors for success for the daily habits that I've been working on that has been key is hooking a habit to something that I already do, which is called Habit Stacking. My mindfulness practice has become part of my nightly routine, along with my daily prayer.

I schedule individual time with the boys into my day, carving a few minutes out in the mornings and evenings with Max at wake-up and bed-time, and putting time physically on my calendar with Miles. When we had remote school we started doing a daily "mile with Miles" and share how we're doing, made-up stories, and he keeps me updated on the latest storyline from the book he's reading, now we do that at the end of the day or on the weekends. Now that both are in school, I carve out special connection at bedtime, and work to find moments for each of them in between.

Our family calendar has also become our daily gratitude calendar and it's hanging in the kitchen, a visual reminder to do it and to remember all the things we're grateful for. We usually do this at dinner time, and occasionally it gets skipped, but we have almost every day filled out each month!

Right now I'm practicing habit stacking, and linking taking the boys out to the bus stop with a short (or longer) walk outside before I come back in and continue working. Sometimes I'm on a meeting, which I can continue on my phone, sometimes I'm able to listen to a podcast and walk, and sometimes I just walk for a minute and then head back inside!

For reading, I've been tracking the goal or habit of reading 10 mins a day in my Cultivate What Matters Power Sheet tracker. It's one of the things I've focused on tracking daily. I also have altered my environment design to keep my book out and present, so that I see it regularly. At night if I'm short on time, I'll leave the dishes until tomorrow and read instead - priorities :) I'm also tracking a night off a week from kid's bedtime, this one has been harder for me to accomplish, but tracking it has been helping me to realistically see if I am or am not making progress on this new habit I'm working to create. Since this one is variable vs daily, its a bit trickier for me to figure out!

How do you think of habits? What do you want to work on creating or starting? If you want more like this, check out my new Instagram handle @healthy_habits_mama

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