Process 3: Personal Habits

by teresalaynebennett

photo of a healthy breakfast of oatmeal and fruit

A healthy breakfast = one worthwhile habit

This whole process-thing isn’t confined to your personal and household clutter. Even things as untouchable as good habits happen as a slow, steady process.

Quick – what do you do each morning? I’ll bet it’s a set of actions that have become your morning’s good habits. Even by our twenties, most of us have already established an intricate, well-established pattern of daily habits.

Deciding to instigate a good habit and then sticking with our resolution is a painstaking process. If we’re fairly self-disciplined, we make it happen – in good time. While I’ve heard ra-ra-ree, kick-em-in-the-knee “experts” claim it takes a mere 27 days to turn a repeated action into a good habit, my humble experience says longer – as in twice as long.

But don’t fret. Just keep hammering away at those good habits. One day, you’ll wake up and realize you could fill a page with your good habits – habits that have saved you a great deal of grief for years. Was each one an exercise in self-discipline? You bet. Did it hurt that much? Not really. You just added them one at a time, as you recognized the need. It was a process, and now you can lay claim to plenty of good habits.

Breaking Bad Habits

While it takes a month or two to develop a good habit, it takes a nanosecond to develop a bad habit and then months and months to break that bad habit. I well know what I’m talking about here, dear reader. It’s a perverse fact of life – brutally perverse.

Oh, we do pretty well for a few hours or days as we try to break one of our nasty little habits, and then we fall down and go boom. We pick ourselves up, pump up our resolve, and get ourselves through a little longer period of time before we fall off the proverbial wagon again. On and on it goes until the day we realize we’ve finally broken that bad habit that so plagued us a few months ago.

Take this for what it’s worth. In my very unscientific observation, I’ve found it’s sometimes more productive to expend energy developing a new good habit than agonizing over the painful process of breaking a bad habit. For some reason, the bad habits are eclipsed by the new good habits. Interesting paradox, huh?

Pay Attention

This paradox makes it even more important that you sit up and pay attention when you notice other people’s good habits. Ask yourself how you could tailor their good habit to fit you. What could you tweak about their habit to make it become your habit? Start – today. Just do it. And while you’re at it . . .

  • Start hammering away at one new good habit at the first of the month.
  • Instigate one – just one – new good habit every January to make your New Year’s resolutions a tad more credible.
  • Choose a new good habit on your birthday.

I promise, one by one, they’ll add up. It’s a process, I’m telling you. Collect good habits instead of salt-and-pepper sets. It’s an incredibly rewarding process and while good habits are a little trickier to inventory than salt and pepper sets, they’re way more valuable assets.

Come on, help us all out. Share your tricks for developing good habits.

red box with white text of quote by Samuel Smiles

Wisdom from a late-1800s Scottish reformer

(Right about now would be a good time to move on to Process 4: Developing Relationships.)

© 2013 Teresa Layne Bennett