I eat a lot more broccoli than I did 5 years ago. I actually enjoy it now.
I also still walk, jog, play, bike, etc. regularly. It’s why my gut isn’t any bigger than it probably should be.
I’ve been able to develop habits that have made me happier and more productive.
I’ve slacked on my meditation practice. Just yesterday was my first time in over a month.
I love it so, but it alludes me to turn it into a habit.
Yoga is a habit that I need to do every single day, even if it’s just a quick 5 minute sun salutation.
These habits help me with my energy levels at work.
I sat down to do meditation. My son came barreling in the door.
“Oh, Yoga!” he said.
I open one eye.
“Hi,” I whisper.
“I’ll be done in just 10 minutes.”
“Can I join you?”
He sits down next to me.
“You know what I feel like right now?” he asks.
“What?” I ask.
“I’m not sure. I just feels like my neck is very long right now.”
“Baba?” he asks. (That’s dad in German.)
“Shh. We are meditating.”
“Ok, just…What do you feel like right now?”
“I feel like me.”
“Yeah, me too.”
“Baba. Just real quick.”
“After we’re done do you want to play pirates?”
I close my eyes.
“Buddy, I really want to meditate right now. It’s quiet time.”
“Ok, just really quick.”
Then I hear the door open. My wife peeks in. It’s time for dinner.
“We’ll be right there.”
Now this is a wonderful memory and one I wouldn’t ever want to forget.
Power of Habit
The book “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg is one of the best books on habits I’ve read in a long time. In it, Duhigg talks about one technique that will help you develop habits that stick with you – have a backup plan when you don’t follow through.
The key is start with your passion behind your desire to build a certain habit. You might want to take a walk during lunch every single day to clear your stress out.
Then focus on creating a happiness map that fits your personality. Then incorporating your new habit into your schedule.
Now meditation doesn’t play to my strengths of sitting still, but it doesn’t have to because my passion is stronger and I’m willing to build this strength muscle because of the benefits of meditation. The more I meditate the less prone I am to anger and frustration. Strengthening this part of my daily routine pays dividends for my happiness.
Here is where I faltered. If I didn’t meditate I didn’t have a backup plan. Let’s say I wanted to meditate for 20 minutes before dinner and my son happens to walk into my office, wanting to spend time with me.
Do I give up on the meditation for the day?
I used to.
Now I plan for a possible disturbance and have a backup plan. If I try to meditate in the morning and my youngest son gets up and I have to stop at the beginning of my meditation, I write a note to myself to practice after the kids go to bed. This is very important. I try to write where and when. The more specific the better. I’ll meditate in my bedroom at 9pm before I wind down for the night.
The more details I put into my plan the more clear my desire becomes to actually do it. Then have a backup in place to help you stay on track even when you get off track.
If you can visualize how you will take your walk (route) and schedule it (time) then you are 90% more likely to actually practice your habit.
Habits At Work
You may be interrupted during a time you are trying to focus on a project. Are you quick to anger or frustration?
Then try building in a plan “b”. If you are pulled into a meeting then schedule time in the later afternoon or next morning to do this work.
It will be important to strengthen your “no” muscle. If you keep getting interrupted then you won’t have time to do your high level work. If you are interrupted once then schedule the next time and stick with it. By setting these boundaries you’ll help train your coworkers to allow you to get your important work done.
When my son or a client interrupts my work I try to be flexible, but then set limits to my flexibility. I want people to know my time is valuable too.
You can do this at work by putting on headphones while you work, scheduling a private room at work, or working outside of work to get what you need done quickly.
Here is how it breaks down:
- Know why you want to build a habit into your routine.
- Write down when and where so you can visualize yourself doing it.
- Create a backup plan that allows you to do it even in a shortened amount of time.
- Set boundaries that allow you to be flexible, but also set limits on how much time you give to others.
The 4 step process to building habits that stick.
What habit would you like to add to your life?