Kicking the Habit

Ah, January. A special month filled with our very best. People are paying off Christmas, dedicating themselves to their resolutions, getting back to the gym, eating healthy after whatever it is that happens to us during the holidays, and all around trying to be a better person.

Honestly, I am not a huge New Year’s resolution person. Clarence is even less of one. This year though, I had one special request from him that we should work on together. Complaining. Yes, complaining. It’s amazing to me with how fortunate we are as a couple and a family how much complaining tends to be the end result of many conversations.

By in large, I’m a borderline eternal optimist. I have been accused of living under a rock and only coming out with my rose-colored glasses on. I’m ok with it, really. It hasn’t hurt me so far, so I’m pretty sure it’s a safe and healthy habit to keep.

I am not trying to pick on my husband, but rather to bring out the concept that sometimes what we think we’re like, and what comes out of us into the world, may seem like different things. My husband, God bless him, does not think himself a complainer. Nor does he think of himself as intimidating, but many people have described him as such. He’s honestly a super kindhearted guy, it’s just that habits become habits. Anytime we are reproducing the same behaviors, thoughts, feelings, over and over again, it just happens! Habits can be good as well. Brushing your teeth, exercise, eating healthy foods, gratitude, being kind to others, and thinking positive are all wonderful habits to get into and maintain with regular practice.

So, what’s my point to this? Simply this: January is a great time to kick old habits you don’t like, and success is always easier when there is more than one person working towards it. This is where I enter the picture. I’m not saying I’m never complaining or negative, I certainly am a mere human being. Things and people get to me sometimes, too. But we’ve noticed with many conversations at our house at some point they take a sharp left turn and end up in what I call “the bitch bucket”. If you’re offended by my reference, I kind of apologize, but I’m really just telling you what I indeed call these conversation enders and I think it very accurately describes them. Sorry, but mostly not sorry.

I’m a fan of committing myself to be the best version of myself I can be, and I spend my career essentially helping others do the same. However, each of us defines that for ourselves. So, in 2020 the goal is just to get closer to our best self-version together.

Set goals, in fact, set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely) goals. Our goal is simply to notice when conversations start to head in an unnecessary direction and then divert them back to something positive. It’s like when you first learned to practice positive self-talk. You had to learn to listen to yourself before you could change the actual behavior of negative self-talk. This is the same. Clarence is practicing (because it’s a practice) at paying attention to how often things are taken in a downward direction, and noticing what he gets out of that from the framework of his ego-mind. Let’s face it, habits become habits and stay habits because there is something about them that is working for you, or rather for your fear mind. Our mind doesn’t repeat things that it does not perceive as being in our best interest for staying safe and alive. Now, remember, what your ego-mind believes keeps you safe and alive does not have to meet any real criteria beyond “what have I done before” and “I’m alive so that must work well”. Our automatic pilot brain is not geared to discern our joy or success or fulfillment. All it cares about is being alive. So, there is always something your inner fear mind is getting from what you’re doing, or you wouldn’t do it. This is why change is often so scary. You’re challenging the part of your mind that is convinced deviating from the previous plan will only lead to disaster.

Don’t try to change everything at once. I love your excitement and desire to kick butt on this new year, but believing you have to change everything in your life at once is a set up for disaster. Pick one thing you are wanting to shift, and then go do that. As silly as it sounds, one of my personal commitments to myself in 2020 is to eat more veggies. I used to have a really good habit of eating lots and lots of veggies and then I got out of that habit and into a different habit of eating fewer veggies. It’s definitely time to change back to the old way.

Make a plan for success. Having an accountability partner can be a huge asset in trying to change out of old habits, into new, more desirable ones.

Take small steps forward and always be willing to start over. I’m not talking about sinking the entire ship daily because “oh well, I can just start over in 10 minutes” I’m talking about recognizing new behaviors, thoughts, and feelings, in this case, are behaviors, and they need practice. You may not nail it every time. Have patience and compassion for yourself. Be willing to have a child’s mind, and allow yourself to keep moving forward in your new mission.

Have a value for your change. What exactly is this new habit going to do for you in your life? Your “why” will help you stay clear and motivated as you create change.

Take inventory and give yourself credit for the changes you ARE making. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we’re not accomplishing and forget to look back at where we started to recognize how far we’ve come. Celebrate your accomplishments!

Let’s enter into this year from a standpoint of loving where we are and still knowing there is more that we can do to become the best version of ourselves. Step by intentional step, we will arrive at our destination with a whole new set of habits that serve us!

Blessings Galore, Anne

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