Listen to this episode of the Focus With Marlene Podcast
“Good habits are worth being fanatical about.”
It has been said that over 40% of our actions each day are habits. If so, much of our day is on autopilot, and it behooves us to look carefully at our habits to discover which are working for us and which are working against us. This is especially important as you prepare to make new goals for the future. Successful goals rely on habits that keep you on track.
“Once you understand that habits can change, you have the freedom and the responsibility to remake them.”
As you reflect on the goals you have made in the past, why were some never completed while others were? What made the difference?
“Feeling sorry for yourself, and your present condition is not only a waste of energy but the worst habit you could possibly have.”
The importance of preplanning
My husband and I built two homes together, acting as our own contractors. The first was a house design already drawn up. In the second home, we designed the floor plan based on some important preplanning:
- What did we want?
- What could we afford?
- What was and wasn’t necessary?
Because of that preplanning, we ended up with a home that we not only could afford with the essentials needed, but loved living in.
Similar to building a house, you are preparing a plan and blueprint for what you want moving forward. This preparation will eliminate a lot of unnecessary work down the road and will maximize the use of your time and energy.
“In essence, if we want to direct our lives, we must take control of our consistent actions. It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives, but what we do consistently.”
Reasons we fail
As you explored the whys, whats and hows of past decisions, you investigated what worked and what didn’t and why. Here are some typical reasons we fail:
- We lack long-term commitment and give up.
- We lack the motivational habits that keep us on track.
- We have an initial spurt of energy but not a plan to take us all the way.
- We haven’t looked honestly at our strengths and weaknesses, accepting all of who we are, and haven’t reflected on behaviors and repeated errors. Until we analyze why we are doing the things we do, we won’t know how to replace those behaviors.
- We haven’t adequately addressed diversions that occur every day.
- We haven’t accurately and honestly identified why we did not succeed in the past, so we do not know how to keep from repeating the same errors today.
- We allow old messages to keep surfacing that tell us we can’t make it.
- We haven’t established our values and made a commitment to follow them.
There is little we can’t achieve if we set our mind to it. But it does require planning, a time commitment, a belief in our abilities, and motivation to follow through when the going gets rough. It also requires understanding the habits we currently have.
“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.”
Habits are a wonderful thing unless they consume our time and energy without giving us the results we want. Habits provide the structure we need to stay on track. They remind us to follow our intentions and not just what feels good in the moment.
“The trick to success is to choose the right habit and bring just enough discipline to establish it.”
—Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
What is your daily time routine?
Habits and time management go hand-in-hand. If you want to maximize your time, you need to have habits that will keep you moving in the right direction. If you constantly put off chores that need to be done each day, you will find yourself consumed by trying to catch up.
To discover how effectively you use your time, keep a record of what you do each day for one week. On a sheet of paper, put down the hours of the day and then record what you do within that time period; the time you get up, morning schedules, daytime routines, after work, evening and then bedtime. Don’t try to change anything – just get the information you need to work with.
At the end of the week, review your time log. Did you have predictable routines in place? If not, how did that affect your ability to maintain order in your life? Were you able to complete necessary tasks, or where you constantly playing catch up?
Next week we will discuss ways you can manage your time. Then we will speak to the habits that need to be replaced in order to make time work for you instead of against you.
We need validation for the turmoil of thoughts and emotions we experience. But we also need the tools necessary to create a new beginning that is both satisfying and meaningful. My new book, Learning to Live Again in a New World, offers those tools to help work through the problems you might be facing.