We all know how hard it is to break bad habits once they’ve formed. But what about learning how to turn the good things we’d like to do into positive habits?
Here is an easy little exercise that will help you turn healthy, positive desires into good habits we can feel proud of:
Many experts agree that it takes about six weeks to cultivate a good habit so that it becomes automatic. So here are some steps for getting in the right groove:
1. Make a resolution regarding the new habit you want to cultivate, for instance, setting the breakfast table the night before or taking fifteen minutes every day for meditation or prayer. Write down your decision in your appointment diary on this very date, and aspire to start doing it every day for six weeks.
2. Find the date six weeks from the day you’re starting, and mark it with a big note: this is your target date, the end of the time period it takes to make a good habit your own. (If you can do your good habit every day for six weeks, you will have succeeded!)
3. If it would help your incentive to do so, plan a celebration for the target date. Tell someone else about your plan and the date your exercise period ends. He or she could also make note of that date in his or her diary. Do you need more support? What works best for you? Maybe it’s having someone send you a card or calling you halfway through to give you encouragement. Make the necessary arrangements.
4. Once these dates and plans are in place, the six-week period begins. Keep a diary of your progress, if you like: this can be a helpful tool for looking back later on.
5. Once you have done your six-week exercise and the habit is yours, you might enjoy listing it in a special Good Habits book with the ending date of the exercise and a description of the good habit you have now acquired.
Adapted from Clear the Clutter, by Inge van der Ploeg (Floris Books, 2004). Copyright (c) 2004 by Inge van der Ploeg. Reprinted by permission of Lantern Books, the distributor for Floris.
Adapted from Clear the Clutter, by Inge van der Ploeg (Floris Books, 2004).