Much of what we do in life is habit.
Some habits are learned when we are very young – brushing teeth, for example. Others are learned over time and we teach them to ourselves as we develop certain tastes, like the very particular way we might make our coffee.
Still other habits are the ones that we make a conscious and concerted effort to cultivate and that actually have an overall affect on the way we live our lives.
Things like exercise and eating well, getting enough sleep and having a routine to guide our day.
For business owners, habits might include things like regular blogging, consistent marketing, creating and maintaining a work/life balance.
Often we find that when we enter upon a new adventure in life – say, when we welcome children into our family, or when we start a home-based business – we don’t actually make the necessary changes of habit to accommodate a smooth transition.
The passage to parenthood or to a successful home business can be rough, at least in part, and if we don’t properly prepare mentally for the change, it can be a really arduous uphill battle against our former lives and expectations.
Here are my top 4 tips for forming new habits with simplicity and grace.
1. Adjust your expectations
Shortly after welcoming my first baby, I had an appointment to have her hips checked and I was 20 minutes late. I am – perhaps a little by nature, but more through habit – a punctual person, so I was incredibly frustrated with myself. I had failed to account for how much longer it would take to get ready with a baby, and I had neglected to alter my expectations and my habits.
Whether you are preparing to welcome a new baby or writing a business plan, understand that you are initiating a major life change. Adjust your expectations accordingly. Be kind to yourself. And take the time you need for a smooth transition.
2. Start small
When you set goals that are important for your family or your business, it is important to chip away at them a little each day. They may be big goals, but you only ever have to take one small step at a time.
For goals of forming a new habit, this “little chip” will be as simple as doing the thing every day and not forgetting or giving up.
If you set a goal of meal planning, start with just planning the evening meal. When you have the hang of that, try planning lunches.
If you set a goal to blog weekly, start by setting aside 10 minutes a day to just write.
3. Hold yourself accountable
One of the easiest ways to form a new habit is to do it with a buddy.
For new habits that will affect the whole family, a key factor in not forgetting or giving up is to get everyone on board from the start.
Tell them that you want to implement one (or some!) positive change this week that will help you to create and maintain a more peaceful home. Ask, “Can you help me stick to this by _______________.” Give them a job to do that helps you and makes them feel like an important contributor to the team.
If you’re trying to implement new habits for your business, join a mastermind group (like the Biz Bistro!) or find another business colleague and become accountability buddies.
4. Secret to How to Create Habits: Stick with it
The latest research suggests that, on average, it takes 66 days (just over 2 months) to form a new habit.
When you first begin to implement new habits, it will hurt. It will be hard. Well, actually that’s not entirely true. It will be easy for a week or so, and then it will start to hurt. And that’s when we often give up. But you must stick with it. You must see it through.
Don’t just try meal planning for a week or two. Give it a few months.
Don’t just try weekly blogging for a fortnight. Give it a few months.
You may need to tweak your plan or your roster or your routine and that’s fine, but you must stick with it. You have to be consistent.
And one day – I promise – you will find that your strategies have become automatic.
They will have become habit.
Eva Van Strijp is a mother of five, business owner and creator of Simple Life, Peaceful Home – the 8 week strategy guiding busy mothers through the process of creating and maintaining a simple, peaceful family home.
When Eva isn’t hanging out with her family or running a business, she’s eating chocolate, listening to podcasts or tending her veggie patch.
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