Developing Good Habits

Just because you’re struggling with self-discipline doesn’t mean you have to raise the white flag and declare your self-improvement efforts a complete failure. Instead, work to increase the chances that you’ll stick to your healthier habits – even when you don’t feel like it.” Amy Morin

If you find it easy to develop new and better habits, that impresses me. Some people can see the value in a new habit and simply start doing it. That is seldom true for me. I find it difficult to overcome resistance.

In December, a friend mentioned that every day, she walks or runs at least one mile. I thought, “That seems doable! It would be so much better than nothing,” which is what I was doing some days. It is so easy to get lethargic around the holidays and in winter. But starting on January 1, I’ve been walking or running at least a mile (often more) every day.

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Developing Good Habits – Photo by Tobi from Pexels

Our goals, of course, have to be right for us. My running friends might consider a mile a day to be nothing, whereas sedentary friends might consider it to be a lot. We each have to start with where we’re at. Someone who doesn’t walk at all could start with walking one block a day. That can lead to more walking.

Establishing new habits doesn’t need to be drudgery. Every day, I ask myself what is the most pleasant way to get my walk in? Weather permitting, it is most pleasant to walk or run outside. But winter has been rough this year in the Chicago area. Sometimes I walk with my husband Ken outside, even on snowy sidewalks. If it’s very cold or slick, I do a mall walk with a friend, walk on a treadmill, or walk on an indoor track with Ken. I’ve also run with a friend at a track a few times. Some days have been dangerously cold or slick outside, so I walked inside the house for 20 minutes while listening to a podcast or music.

I started another good habit this year that is consistent with my writing goals. Since January 1, I’ve been working on my mystery novel every day. I add at least 200 words a day, and I also subtract words as I edit and tighten my first draft.

Baby steps are what helped me develop this good habit. I took the following baby steps to get writing on my mystery:

  • I started by journaling daily last year. For me, this was easier and less scary than writing fiction.

  • I joined a group that held me accountable for writing 100 words a day.

  • Next I increased to writing 200 words a day.

  • Then I only counted writing if it was on my novel or a short story. I’ve committed to write 6 days out of 7, but so far, I’m writing daily.

I’ve been wanting to write a mystery novel for at least a decade. The truth is, it has taken a lot more steps than the above to get to this point. But it is so much better to take a baby step towards one’s goals, then to go backwards or do nothing.

In developing new habits, it helps to have a support group, supportive friend, or someone to hold us accountable. I’m a new member of the Sisters in Crime organization and joined their Goals subgroup. I post my writing goals for the week and whether I met last week’s goals. The people are encouraging, and they cheer when I meet my goals. Some women write a huge amount every day, but I am not going to let that bother me. I am starting with where I’m at—a novice mystery writer.

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Developing Good Habits – Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

It can help to reward ourselves when trying to establish a new habit. I am still trying to lose weight. I had developed the bad habit of snacking on sweets during the day. There are often baked goods at the church where I work. Every time I pass up a baked good, I pat myself on the back, sometimes literally. At home, I try to grab a cup of herbal tea instead of a sweet. However, I’ve decided to go back to my weight-management workshop. A good friend questioned why I need that support. Why can’t I do it on my own? We are all different, and even though she might not need support, I do.

Do you find it difficult or easy to establish a new habit? How do you do it?

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About Susan Ekins

Freelance writer and blogger at Women Making Strides. Interested in personal leadership and empowerment. Wanting inspiration and to inspire. Leader in church ministries. Blog: http://www.WomenMakingStrides.com/ Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/WomenMakingStrides1
This entry was posted in Discipline, Goals, Healthy living, Inspiration, Motivation, personal leadership and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Developing Good Habits

  1. Shirley Jones says:

    Sue…loved your article. I started on our treadmill for 1 mile a day on 02-01-19. Did it for about 5 days…missed a day….and never went back on. After reading your article, I am going back on that treadmill and have set a goal of no lunch till it is done! Thank you for that push.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Paula Crow says:

    What? Are you peeking in my window? How did you know I needed this pep talk? Thanks for the nudge! 🤟💕

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sarah says:

    As is usually the case, Sue, your posts hit home with me. First, I absolutely love the message in your opening quote! Secondly, I have spent the last few days trying to figure out what it’ll take for me to set the habits I need to lose these last few pounds so reading this helps a lot. It reminds me to keep trying even when I’ve had a “bad” eating day and that certainly all is not lost. No need to raise the white flag! I started intermittent fasting last spring in conjuction with carefully watching my caloric intake during the hours I was eating. I dropped a size, felt great about it and then we moved just 3 weeks before the holidays. Between the stress of the move (meaning our first RV destination), being newly retired, and the holidays my routine has really been tough to get in order!! I’ve had to constantly give myself the grace to fall down and get back up…. sometimes even daily! Why is it sometimes so easy to choose beating ourselves up instead of being gentle? This was a great reminder that it’s ok to take baby steps. Thanks, Sue! I hope you are well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susan Ekins says:

      Thank you, Sarah. That quote hits home for me, too. You did great with losing weight last year. You’re going through a big adjustment, so I hope you give yourself some slack. Thank you for sharing your insights. That sentence you wrote is so true, that it’s “easy to choose beating ourselves up instead of being gentle.” I had a bad cold in January but am well now. Hope you and David are, too.

      Like

  4. nanciec13 says:

    I am working on some good habits–your reflection was well timed and most encouraging. Thanks so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. EstelaHa says:

    I am working on being consistent with exercising. We were on a month long RV trip and we did as much walking as we could on the beach or if we went to a preserve. There were days of driving so have to get back on schedule. I want to do zumba three times a week and walk on the other days. Thanks for your reminders to stay on track.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. alhenry says:

    Congratulations on the steady progress of your mystery novel, Susan. Everything takes as long as it takes–a lesson I struggle with, wanting to cram 48 hours into every 24. Life really is process/progress.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Zeeshan Amin says:

    Discipline is the key i.e. doing things even if you don’t feel like doing them.

    Liked by 1 person

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