Do you ever think about habits? A habit is basically something that you do often or regularly enough that you can often do it without thinking. Your morning routine is a good example, most of us probably perform the same or at least a similar list of activities each morning. My list includes showering, brushing my teeth, scooping the litter box and grabbing my large Diet coke from Dairy Queen on the way to the office. Okay, Dairy Queen isn’t really on the way to the office but it’s the route I take, lol.
Habits can be good or bad. Lately I’ve noticed that I have developed some really bad habits. I’ve been working way too many hours, which leads to me being starved by the time I leave the office so I either grab some fast food on the way home (expensive and bad for me) or eat a frozen pizza or bowl of cereal when I get home. It gets worse…then I veg out in front of the tv until midnight before finally heading to bed to do it all over again the next day. Here’s the result of these bad habits: I’m busting the budget eating out, I’ve gained 25 lbs, my writing goals have gone by the wayside, and I’m burnt out at my job.
The Good News
Here’s some good news. You can break bad habits and form new, better ones in their place. I’m sure people are tired of hearing me gripe about my weight gain because I’m tired of hearing me complain about my weight gain. (Side note: I’m tall so people tend to poo-poo my complaints anyway. But guess what…just because I may hide the weight gain a little better than others, doesn’t mean it’s not there. I still feel like crap and my clothes still don’t fit!)
Most experts (don’t ask me to quote who these experts are, this is a blog, not a research paper) agree that it takes about 21 days to form or break a habit.
So first step is to identify the bad habit. Secondly, create some steps to eliminate the bad habit and replace it with better habits. We’ve been short-handed and it’s just a busy season anyway in my office so some extra hours might still be necessary but here’s my action plan.
Bad habit: Working too many hours, eating junk, no exercise
- Limit myself to leave the office no later than one hour after my scheduled off time. No more than 2 hours on the weekend. I know, I know…baby steps!!
- Meal plan so that I have meals that just need reheated or can be quickly cooked when I get home. This way I’m not tempted to hit the drive-thru.
- Set a weekly exercise goal of working out X amount of days a week. Announce it to an accountability partner to keep myself on track
- Limit tv time. Read a book, do some writing, or work on my personal projects instead
- Bed by 11:30pm
Maybe your bad habit is that you spend too much money on the weekend. I get it! Most of us work hard all week and when those 2 glorious days show up at the end of the week, we want to splurge.
Replacement/Better Habit: Just like my earlier example, planning ahead is key. If you do a little research I bet you can find a lot of low cost/free activities in your area. Here are some things I either do myself or know of in my particular area this summer.
- Visit a park. You can hike, play on a playground, run, bike, maybe kayak. Lots of fun options.
- Find a swimming pool. Maybe you know someone or live somewhere (like me!) that has a pool. Even if you don’t, most places have a local pool with a daily rate.
- Visit your library
- Find a farmer’s market and walk around.
- Catch a little league game. Nothing more fun than watching little kids try to play sports for the first time.
- Check your community pages for free, local events. My neighborhood hosted a free bike safety rodeo this weekend and the first 200 kids received free bike helmets.
What about you? Any bad habits you need to break? Maybe you don’t have any bad habits but you just want to form some new habits to make you healthier or more productive. Any more tips you would want to share?