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Volume 11, Issue 13: Stick With It

Having started small, established your habit and continued to advance in small ways, now you have to stick with it. It's not enough to learn a habit, you must stick with it and continuously improve it to excel at your pursuit. Otherwise, what's the point?

In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear wrote that "As habits become routine, they become less interesting and less satisfying. We get bored. As such, the only way to become excellent is to be endlessly fascinated about doing the same thing over and over. You have to fall in love with boredom."

While it's easy to do the right thing when conditions are favourable, it's not so easy when conditions are unfavourable. It's fun for me to write when I feel motivated. On the other hand, it takes a lot of drive for me to write when I feel tired and demotivated. That's when I have to dig in and keep going. That's when I prove that I am indeed a writer.

"Anyone can work hard when they feel motivated. It's the ability to keep going when work isn't exciting that makes the difference. Professionals stick to the schedule; amateurs let life get in the way." James Clear. Which habit(s) do you need to stick with irrespective of your conditions or mood?

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 
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Volume 11, Issue 12: Start Small

I have realized from my own experiences that one of the reasons we fail at developing new habits is that we start big. We set a goal then go all out with the behavior to attain it. Being an introvert, I can spend a whole day without having a conversation with anyone and be perfectly fine. But this disposition isn't good for relationships.

Awhile back, I wanted to develop a habit of having a conversation with a loved one for at least fifteen minutes each day. I set the time and place for it and got started. Well, I don't have to say that I failed miserably. It just didn't work out as planned. Most days I didn't have anything to talk about or found the whole situation awkward. I later re-introduced the habit in a different fashion. Rather than waiting for a set time to go talk, I created opportunities for talking without necessarily focusing on making conversation.

Another habit that I flopped at was having daily family devotions and learning sessions. My family members weren't always available to congregate at the set time and I eventually found it easier to continue with the sessions without them. I later re-introduced the habit by not only stacking it with other established habits but also reducing the chunk of time it takes. After getting my family members to gather at the table for family dinner, I have the short devotional and motivational messages run right after we finish eating and conversing, before anyone leaves the table.

By making these two habits small and unpronounced, I have managed to sneak them into daily evening routines with my family. I get to have my extra conversations and family devotion and learning without making a big deal of them.

Picture a man deciding to jog five miles each day in order to get in shape. He probably hasn't done serious exercise routines before but he is determined to do this now. With a strong sense of will power working in his favour, he gets started and jogs five miles consistently for a month without skipping a day.

Expecting to see good results on the scale, he is disappointed when the scale reports negligible change in his weight. He has worked really hard from the onset of setting the goal but doesn't see the fruit of his labour. He decides, "What's the point?" and quits jogging all together.

This man's chances of sticking with the discipline of jogging and reaping the desired results in the long run would have been higher if he started small and set realistic targets. He could have started with jogging for maybe even just 5 minutes a day and build on that over time.

One of the fundamentals for habit formation is first getting the new habit formed and ingrained in your routine to the extent that you identify yourself with the habit. Starting big on a new habit is not only overwhelming but highly unlikely to stick. Your chances of sticking with a new habit is starting small.

In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear says to "Standardize before you optimize. You can't improve a habit that doesn't exist. When starting a new habit, it's important to keep the behavior as easy as possible so you can stick with it even when conditions aren't perfect. Once a habit has been established, however, it's important to continue to advance in small ways."

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 
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Volume 11, Issue 11: Bullied By Peanuts!

I recently found myself over indulging in peanuts, a habit I started right after I learnt about their high caloric content. I hardly snacked on peanuts before, I ate them occasionally but they had no grip on me. So, I started battling with trying to stop myself from reaching to peanuts multiple times during the day but I didn't seem to be getting a breakthrough. Until a thought dropped into my mind one day.

I have nothing against peanuts. In fact I love them. My overindulgence level was eating as big as about a handful every other day spread out after breakfast, lunch and dinner. Though this is the recommended daily intake portion, I didn't want to continue on that path, lest I find myself going overboard with peanuts over time. I also just don't want to snack on peanuts, it just doesn't sit right with me.

So, what dropped in my mind that day is "why am I letting defenseless peanuts bully me all day into eating them?" I know this probably sounds ridiculous but it did the trick for me. I am finally on track sticking to my set small portion once a day. Now I am working on dropping the habit all together, going back to only snack on peanuts occasionally like I did before.

You may find my situation ridiculous. I mean, who fusses over snacking on healthy nutritious home-baked peanuts? You don't have to fuss over what I fuss about, in fact you shouldn't. But you should fuss about something important to you. What "bad" habits are you struggling with? What's bullying you into partaking of it/them more than you would like to?

What are you finding harmless now that could likely go overboard if not snipped in the bud? What indulgence are you entertaining now that could take you further than you intend to go? What path are you on now that could end up costing you more than you intend to pay?

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 11, Issue 10: Identify With You Habits

One of the practices recommended for habit formation is identifying with your habits. Your habits are not what you do, they are who you are. Writing isn't something that I do, it is who I am. I am a writer, therefore I write. Exercising is not something that you do, it is who you are. You are an athlete, therefore you exercise.

We do what we do because we want to be proficient at those things and reap the benefits that accrue from doing them. You may not be interested in becoming a performing artist, but if you like to sing or to play the piano and do it consistently, you are a musician. This is because we are what we do repeatedly.

When you identify yourself as an athlete, overtime, working out wouldn't be something you make yourself do but one that comes naturally to you. What would be weird would be you not working out for a notable stretch of time. You know this because people who work out consistently are most likely not trying to lose weight. They may be interested in maintaining their ideal weight but that is not such a big factor in their continuing to work out year after year.

These people work out because working out is not just what they do, it's who they are. They are athletes. They may not have set out to be athletes. They probably started working out to get in shape. But as they exercised consistently over and over again, working out got ingrained in their makeup. Now that they are fit and healthy, and disciplined in their eating habits, they don't necessarily have a reason to continue working out, but they can't stop working out because it is who they are.

When I struggled with finding time to write, or ideas to write about, what got me back on track was the realization that this is not just something that I do. It's who I am. I may not be a published writer or known by anybody but none of that changes who I am, a writer. And what do writers do? They write. When I realized this, all the obstacles I imagined I had lost their grip on me.

What habits are you struggling to form or strengthen? Try identifying yourself with those habits and see what difference that would make. If you would like to make friends but haven't gathered enough courage to socialize, start thinking of yourself as a social person, and then practice doing what social people do. Identify with the habits you want to form or strengthen and soon you will be on your way to being the person who consistently does the things you want to do.

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi

 

 

Volume 11, Issue 09: Improve Your Habits

It's easy for people who have formed good habits to get complacent, basking in the glory of having good habits. Maybe you wake up early and spend time with God. You read daily and listen to podcasts for self improvement. You exercise and nourish your body with a good diet most of the time. You could be thinking, "I have it made", right?

Maybe not quite. If you have come this far, maybe you could do better. I think basking in yesterday's victories is a recipe for stagnation and missing out on the benefits of improvement. These last couple of days I have been pondering over my habits and how to make them better while introducing new ones.

We are never too advanced for learning. If there's one thing all truly successful people are is that they are lifelong students. We never do things too well to never require improvement. Successful people are constantly improving their processes and systems for optimal results.

It's not enough to have good habits. You can have better habits. You can realign your good habits to get the most out of them. You can add new habits by stacking them with your current habits. You can tweak your routines to optimize their outcomes. You can manage your time better. You can improve your nutrition. You can have more efficient workouts. You can read more. You can do more and better with your children, and so forth.

At this stage in my personal development journey, I can do my morning routines without thinking. They are no longer things that I do, but who I am. However, I constantly battle with a sense of discontentment as I am often running a couple of minutes behind schedule. I feel that I either don't have enough time for all that I have lined up to do, or that I am investing more time than I should.

Reflecting over my habits and thinking about how to make them better is giving me an opportunity to set myself up for better results this year. Have you ever given thought to improving your habits or forming better habits? Kudos for having formed good habits, but what could you have if you were more efficient at them? What could you accomplish if you formed better habits?

 

For His Glory,

Lillian Chebosi