It turns out it’s a lot easier to start an itsy bitsy habit instead of a gargantuan habit. So instead of embarking on a marathon, start with a tiny step like keeping your running shoes by the bed. The point is that it’s a lot easier to train your brain to go into auto pilot in the morning to walk the dog than it is to go out on a 10 mile training run for a marathon. The first time you try a new habit you barely leave a mark in your brain like footprints across freshly mowed grass. By the time you’ve been practicing a habit like brushing your teeth, you have a full on coast to coast railroad track laid down in your brain and there is no stopping it.
I’ve actually been walking two miles every morning that I am home. I roll around in bed and think, “ugh, I don’t want to go out in the heat and humidity. It’s my birthday, take the day off, just go have some coffee and watch TV.” But somehow my brain is hard wired now, get up, brush and floss my teeth, put on my shorts and t-shirt, put on my sneakers and head out the door. I am on auto pilot. Nothing, even my sloth brain can convince me to stop. Small habits turn you into an unstoppable robot that is on autopilot. This is my morning routine and there is no stopping it. Ever.
So the secret as espoused by Small Move, Big Change by Caroline Arnold, is micro resolutions. Make one tiny change that you can easily handle and over 30 to 60 days, it will become a habit. The secret is to only take on one or two at a time (no MORE!). Once it is a habit, it’s like driving to work, you won’t even think about it. It will be unbreakable.
So here are some itsy bitsy habits you can start right now:
1. Drink a glass of water before every meal.
2. Put your sneakers by your bed.
3. Floss your teeth every morning.
4. Write in a journal every evening.
5. Meditate for 5 minutes once a day.
6. Walk first thing every morning.
7. Make a fruit smoothie for breakfast every weekday
8. Put your clothes out the night before work/school.
9. Park your car in the farthest parking spot.
10. Make a weekly phone date with your brother, sister, mother, grandfather etc.
11. Put your car keys on a plate in your kitchen.
12. Put your clothes away immediately upon changing.
13. Clear the table once you have finished a meal.
14. Put your shoes in the same spot every time.
15. Take three slow deep breaths before eating.
16. Stop saying “sorry”.
17. Smile when you enter a room.
18. Make your bed.
19. Make a grocery list.
20. Plan your weekly meals on Sunday.
21. Schedule time to work on projects once a week.
22. Plug your cell phone in to charge when you get home.
23. No technology after 7 PM.
24. Go to bed a half hour earlier than usual.
25. Set your alarm clock 10 minutes earlier.
26. Water your plants every Saturday.
27. Read for 15 minutes before bed.
28. Wish your friends “Happy Birthday” on Facebook.
29. Use Luminosity every morning for 5 minutes.
30. Pay your bills every other Wednesday night.
If you can accomplish one or two of these itsy bitsy habits for a month or two, you will be on auto pilot. You won’t have to think about it anymore. You know how difficult it is to break a bad habit, so once it is engrained in your brain, you will never have to remember to floss again. Trust me, I have done everything on this list (not all at once) but over the last 5 years. Now I don’t even think about it. Where do you want to start?