Friday, 29 July 2011

One habit at a time

If there is one thing that has improved my ability to lead an intentional life, it is the idea of one habit at a time.

Pick a new habit and just start doing it, consistently, until it's simply "what you do".

This has immensely improved my housekeeping. It has been the only thing that has successfully brought some semblance of routine into my life. I'd say it has even improved my relationships. My self-care. My practical devotion to God. Pretty much any sustainable change in my life has happened one habit at a time.

The big one for me was not letting the dishes pile up. So I started cleaning the kitchen every night after supper. I load the dishwasher, hand-wash the pots and such, wipe down the counters and table, and sweep up the dinner crumbs if necessary. Now it's just "what I do", and it feels so good to wake up in the morning to a clean kitchen.

Once that was second nature, I picked a new habit - bedtime tidy. The boys put their toys away and I do a quick tidy of the living room, entrance, and bedroom. Now it's just part of their bedtime routine - it's just "what we do".

A daily load of laundry...an afternoon quiet time...a weekly clean of the bathroom...pick one habit in whatever area most needs it or would be personally satisfying for you to implement and force yourself to do it until it becomes second nature. Focusing on one habit at a time is a lot simpler and more sustainable that trying to do a major overhaul and ending up burnt out after a couple of weeks.

As I was writing this post and considering what habit I should focus on next, my lovely sister-in-law sent me a link to a TED talk by Matt Cutts, "Try something new for 30 days". The idea is similar - do something, anything, for 30 days in order to develop a new habit and boost your self-confidence.
"I guarantee you, the next 30 days are going to pass whether you like it or not. So why not think about something you have always wanted to try, and give it a shot...for the next 30 days."

Why not, indeed. That turned out to be my sister-in-law's opinion as well. She suggested that we pick a 30 day challenge together - something achievable but worthwhile. As we talked, we discovered that we both wanted (needed) to be more intentional in our personal relationships with God. Prayer, Bible reading, whatever, just daily time spent with God, no excuses.

We'll be starting our 30 day challenge on Monday, the beginning of August. Would you like to join us? Choose your own 30 day challenge or join us in a daily focused time with God. We'll be checking back in at the end of the month to review our progress. Did we succeed? Did we learn anything? Did we develop a new habit, a new "something that we just do"?

Small, sustainable change...one habit at a time.

Will you be joining us? If so, what challenge have you chosen to take on for the next 30 days?

11 comments:

  1. I LOVE this! I will be joining you in the same challenge: I don't spend enough time with God, and I need to remedy that. I'm looking forward to it!

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  2. What a brilliant idea! For the past 9 years I've had a hard time letting the dishes pile up and then we moved into a place with a dishwasher. So now every night I do what you do. Now I have a clean kitchen, its so awesome. I will be joining in the same journey as you, as I need to become more intentional in my relationship with God. I'm looking forward to this! :)

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  3. I would love to join you on this! For the next 30 days I want to wake up earlier than the rest of my household, so I can start the day with some peaceful moments instead of rushing to catch up with things before they start! Peaceful beginnings... Thanks for the inspiration.

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  4. So glad you'll each be joining us! Rebecca, what a great idea for a challenge. I look forward to hearing how it goes for you!

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  5. Yeah! I'll join this challenge too, and try to set aside some snippet of the day to pray...it will be so fabulous...thank you!!!

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  6. I, too, will join you in blogging each day for 30 days as a way to connect and spend time with the Father. Thanks for the idea.

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  7. Melissa, so glad you'll be joining us!

    Beth, what a wonderful idea!

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  8. Love this idea, and I'm in! I'm going to attempt to establish a routine of reading a bible chapter each day. Somewhat simple, but something I've been lax in, and with baby #2 coming any day now, I'm thinking it might be the biggest goal I can set that I might be able to accomplish!

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  9. Enjoying reading your blog! I've also been feeling I need to work at a few habits.....choosing one is difficult! But I guess the first would be: get up a little earlier to read my Bible. I've chosen a habit for each of my children too. We started working on them already. My daughter is a dreamer and gets lost in her own world at times....so we're working on coming if mom calls, and for my very physical little boy we're working on not hitting when angry.....not easy ones, but I htink it's time :-)

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  10. I'm a little late, but I would love to join you. I want to make a before bed "tidy time" habit with my family. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  11. Beth, Nikki, This is Us, so glad you're joining us! Nikki, I love that you're working on habits with your children as well.

    I hope it's going well for everyone so far!

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