Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” In the name of excellence, let’s take a minute to explore how we can develop good habits. It’s sometimes easier said than done. To truly implement positive life-changing habits and begin walking the walk, there are some really basic things you can do.
So, what are habits? Habits are essentially repeated actions. That means that even if you do one good thing like run once a week, it’s not a habit. You have to repeat that behavior.
Let’s break it down into some concrete commandments.
#1 What’s the goal here?
It’s hard to implement a healthy habit if you don’t have a goal. Focusing on your goal helps you to literally habituate. In terms of skin care, if you want to defy the signs of aging and moisturize more, your goal may be to have beautiful skin. With that goal in mind, you are likely to moisturize morning and night because your mindset is goal-oriented. This leads us to commandment number two, acting with intention.
#2 Acting with intention, committing to change
The secret to acting on the goal is basically hidden in #1. You focus on the goal. If you want to run a marathon, you must train for that marathon. It’s the major goal after running in all those miles. That is your reward, and that’s what gets you out there, running.
That’s why goal-setting and dream-setting are touted and emphasized. Because once you set those goals and dreams down, you are more likely to put into practice behaviors that will help you achieve those goals and dreams. Your actions and behaviors occur because you are reaching towards a goal. Discipline yourself. "But how?" you whine back. By focusing on your goal, dear reader.
However, you may not always moisturize and fall asleep on the couch. Or you may skip out on your run one day, so make sure you are… #3
#3 Kind to yourself
If you want to set up a good habit, be patient and forgiving. It takes time. People argue over how much time it takes to change a habit, some say a month, but don’t even worry about that.
If you slip up and don’t moisturize every single day, it’s okay. Don’t become a maniac. Nobody’s perfect. One way you can be kind to yourself is to give yourself healthy rewards; treat yourself to a massage after you reach your goal. Only you are in charge of what you sow and only you can be good to yourself.
#4 Ask for help and support
Tell people that you are trying to implement good habits and create change. We all have weak moments and instead of overeating or turning to alcohol or something else damaging, tell a friend or loved one you are having a bad day and hopefully they will help you get back on track.
It’s okay to reach out. Whether you need community support or friendships, you really do need them to succeed and especially when you are stumbling.
Isn’t that much healthier than opting for a margarita? You can still indulge in a margarita, but be mindful of your triggers and try to select wiser choices when you are frustrated or stressed. And again, #1 – stay goal focused. It’s really the main ingredient and secret to developing good habits. Set goals and see habits form.
Psst: You just have to really want the goal, discipline yourself, and never give up. It’s really that simple.
Last but not least, this is probably the highest habit commandment, not to get overly spiritual on you, but you have to…
Don’t overlook the most important thing about instituting good habits. Believe that change is possible, and after time, you will have developed healthy, positive new habits, my friends.
The beauty of life is not just waiting for things to happen to you, it’s dreaming wild crazy adventurous things and believing that you can make a difference. You are powerful beyond measure. Only you can craft the commandments. It’s your clay. Sculpt away and set those goals. Act on those goals, be kind and patient, ask for support, and believe that change is possible.