Habits…good for you, or bust?

Last day of July 2021…why not get something new started.

It has indeed been awhile since I last posted. My regular weekly posting has taken a little bit of a backseat in 2021, and for those of you that enjoy the blog (guessing not many!) I apologize. I have tried to limit my time on the screen, and most days I don’t even turn my cell phone on until around 4:00 or 5:00pm and then it is off again by 7:00. Hard to believe for some of you, but I figure with an office phone, if my wife or children need me they know where to find me, and it’s not like I won’t respond to a text message or call later in the day. It is no different than living somewhere without internet service. Those places still exist by the way.

Over the past 11 months I have found myself trying to become an expert in type 1 diabetes, obesity medicine, strength and conditioning and a few other topics. An expert in any of them I am not. I have ventured to go for a run on the beach at least one weekend morning, every week. I engaged myself in coaching 3rd – 5th grade girls basketball for a 5-week summer session, committed to playing more tennis, and most of all, simply spending real T.I.M.E. with my wife and two daughters. Meditation has become a staple. And I won’t lie to you…I have failed over and over again. My body aches a little more these days because as anyone knows, you don’t heal as quickly when you get older. And thanks to a child committed to taking care of her type 1 diabetes (talk about HABITS…) we end up getting woken up nearly every night for a low blood sugar reading…who knew that tons of exercise and eating only healthy carbs (and only the amount you really need) could cause a 9-year-old to reverse such a disease as much as possible (many of us know it, but much of the medical community is still in the paleolithic era with insulin being marketed as a cure all for so many when diet and exercise can indeed do more than any prescription available).

So, today I wanted to share a little article I came across. It is a short read, but it is all about habits. Hope you enjoy it. And perhaps, I can get back to my habit of writing a post a little more often.

Here you go:

Posted by Thomas Oppong (not sure if he really came up with all of it himself…I am suspicious!)

Building better habits is hard, especially in the beginning. Sprints don’t work. Massive changes hardly work. Aiming for one giant step doesn’t end well.

Many people rely on habit building systems to start new healthy habits.

A great system can give your willpower a break, so you can focus on repeatable behaviours that deliver results-systems applied well will make your habits automatic over time.

But a good system requires time to deliver incremental changes because healthy new habits take time to stick.

The only way to get over the hurdle is to start with a consistency plan too small to fail: a habit formation system that fits your personality, attitude, environment and goals in life.

A small action daily is infinitely better and more impactful than a massive change you can’t sustain. It’s also a realistic and attainable way to teach your brain healthy habits.

Jim Rohn once said, “Success is a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.”

Here are 25 micro habits that can improve many areas of your life. Each action can help you build a sustainable habit over time — a consistent system that can deliver incremental results.

“Make it so easy you can’t say no,” says Leo Babauta.

  1. Start your day with at least one glass of water — hydrate before you get yourself a cup of coffee.
  2. Make time for a few minutes of quiet time to think about the good day ahead or prepare yourself for the day.
  3. Don’t get straight to your email just yet — take the morning in (sunrise and the peace of the morning). Put off checking emails and social updates.
  4. Read a page or two of your favourite book instead of aiming for a complete chapter.
  5. Don’t make your morning workout a chore. Instead of an hour or half an hour exercise, try five minutes or less plank, push up, sit-up or squat.
  6. If you want to meditate, start by meditating for one minute per day instead of ten. If you are struggling, won’t make it a habit.
  7. For better energy and strong concentration, choose a healthy breakfast (whole grains, protein and healthy fats).
  8. Limit the number of decisions you make in the morning. Too many decisions exhaust the brain and cause fatigue. One way to manage your energy is to do your high-priority work in the am.
  9. When you start work, remove all distractions from your work environment before starting actual work –noise, notifications, email tabs, etc. Assume focus or productive mode with calming music.
  10. Use your to-do list from the night before to start a productive day.
  11. Schedule short downtime times in between work throughout the day. For example, for every hour of deep work, take a five minutes break.
  12. During your downtime, you can listen to a podcast, read a thought-provoking article, get a drink or take a walk to clear your mind.
  13. For everything you expect to complete, break it into simple-to-complete actions you can quickly get done. Focus on small wins in the first half of the day.
  14. Schedule time for nature walks — even just 10 minutes outside and close to more trees can do wonders for your mood.
  15. End your day with a tidy desk ready for the next day, so you don’t have to spend your morning getting ready for work.
  16. An end-of-day routine can help you put things where they should be, reduce clutter, reduce stress and clear your mind for the next day.
  17. Embrace healthy living — eat more superfoods rich in brain-boosting nutrients: leafy vegetables, berries, fruits, dark chocolate, fish, grains and nuts. You’ll have more energy every day.
  18. Invest at least 30 minutes every day doing a side hobby you find relaxing — you can schedule it in the evenings or early mornings.
  19. Try a 3-minute daily review. Write your best three wins just before you go to bed, or write down what’s on your mind. It’s a calming habit.
  20. To make long-term goals work for you, break them into achievable daily goals. And focus on checking them off one day at a time.
  21. Schedule the next day before you go to bed — things to do, appointments, and meetings to attend so you can concentrate on getting things done.
  22. Start a pre-sleep ritual — remove all digital distractions and read a physical book instead. Reading a book before bed prepares your mind to wind down.
  23. Every successful day begins with a good rest the night before. How you feel throughout the day largely depends on your sleeping habit. Quality sleep is the best way to invest in your mind and body.
  24. Be more social every day — your happiness and the general outlook depends on it. Make quality time for your friends, colleagues and family members who bring out the best in you.
  25. Invest small amounts monthly and beware of little expenses. Benjamin Franklin said, “Beware of little expenses, a small leak will sink a great ship.” Small investments monthly can build massive retirement income for your future self.

Micro habits add up, and they lower the barrier for consistency. This means you’re more likely to adopt good habits and sustain them.

Small actions are meant to help you take micro-steps that are too small to fail but good enough to sustain.

Practice them for as long as possible, revising as needed to keep building good habits. Building habits in small ways is a sustainable approach that doesn’t overwhelm your brain.

3 thoughts on “Habits…good for you, or bust?”

  1. Dr., thank you for the post. Praise the Lord that your daughter is doing much better.

  2. Good to hear from you again Dr. J. V. Yes, life is filled with many challenges but with each challenge, we must always remind ourselves that they have the potential to make us better and not bitter. The key to becoming better requires that we learn to accept two facts. First, it is God who permits life changing challenge in our lives not to tear us down but to strengthen our faith in his abilities. The second fact is that the same God who allows these challenges also provides everything we need to fulfill the challenge. Oh yes, and one more thing, no matter the challenge, always remember to praise God that he chose you to manifest his presence through your faith, hope and love for your family and all those come on contact with. Know that your labor is never in vain.

    Conscientious application with godly expectations will produce sufficient preparation for purposeful participation.

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