It happens to the best of us, even at the best of times: falling off track with our fitness, housecleaning, healthy eating, and keeping up with ALL.THE.THINGS. I will be chugging along, feeling like my life has gotten to a place of being fairly manageable and then suddenly it isn't and weeks will have passed by where I am playing catch up and beating myself up for another unfinished project, or another missed workout. I wonder how such hard-fought habits have somehow seemed to have completely slipped out of my routine.
If you are anything like me when this happens, you will find yourself at a point where you mentally declare "Enough!" and decide it's time to get your life back on track. Again. I will write up a list of everything I plan to accomplish each day of the week, in a desperate attempt to rebuild all the practices that so easily fell away when life became a bit chaotic.
I know this list is a setup for failure if I plan to accomplish all of it all at once in week one, (though my perfectionist side encourages me persuasively "you got this!") and I am tempted to try. However, I know how that story ends....with me overachieving, overworking, and then becoming overwhelmed, unable to check every item off my ridiculously long list and feeling like a failure. Does this story sound familiar?
Luckily I have tested this method out enough times now to know that the result is the same every time, and so I have learned, (albeit the hard way) that building a habit doesn't happen all at once. It takes time, consistency, patience, shifts in our thinking and application at times, and a whole lot of grace.
Building a new positive habit into our lives is nearly as difficult as breaking the not-so-good ones. So I feel it is just as important to understand what endeavor I am taking on when deciding that I need to build a new habit into my life, or possibly rebuild one that perhaps has been pushed out in an extra busy season.
As a personal trainer I have a lot of people asking me for advice on how to build new positive habits into their lives to improve them in some way, such as eating healthy, losing weight, or taking on a new workout program. So, I have decided to outline the Steps that I believe we take in order to successfully grow a habit into our lives. Today I am sharing Step 1.
How to Grow a Habit
Step 1: Make a list. I know, I know, I just got done saying above that "the list" is a setup for failure. However, I want to clarify how important it is to get the spiraling thoughts of all the things I need to do, all the things I envision for myself that haven't been accomplished yet, and all the dreams I have for my life that may feel impossible today out of my head and onto paper so that I can stop thinking myself into mental chaos. Make sense?
Now that I have my list, I see that there may not be a single habit I am trying to add into my life, but an entire life makeover I am dreaming about accomplishing overnight. This is where many of us get stuck and feeling overwhelmed and end up thinking ourselves out of the changes we actually really do want to make. It is much more helpful to take those goals and break them down into bite-sized chunks and smaller steps, which is something we will dive into deeper in later steps.
Back to Step 1: My list. I can see that some of the things on my list I am doing already and want to keep doing, some perhaps, I am doing occasionally and want to be doing daily, and maybe some of the others I used to do, but have allowed to completely slip away. Getting a big picture view of what I am doing and what I want to be doing will help me to make the desires of my heart a reality in my life. So go on now and make your list. Then come on back next week and check out Step 2...
Here's my list for reference:
I will update you more on which items are currently happening, which I am planning, which I am still contemplating, etc. in the next post. Have fun with this ladies, this is not a list that you will end up checking off all.the.things. It is simply a way to get all of the thoughts and ought's and should's and would's out of our head so we can narrow our focus down to what we really want and get to work towards growing a new habit which will actually benefit and enrich our lives rather than just be one more thing that we feel badly about.
Share your list with the rest of us in our private M.E. Fit Moms group for support, fitness tips, and a place to be motivated and encouraged by other moms just like you on their fitness journey!
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