Do you have some awesome goals for this new year? What are your goals? To eat healthier? To master your finances? To grow as a person? Goals are really great things to have, but unless your habits are moving you towards your goals, you won’t get anywhere. You can have habits that will change your life, or you can have habits that keep you stuck.
The Power of Habits
Craig Groeschel says in his series on Habits that “Successful people do consistently what other people do occasionally.” (You can watch his message here and I HIGHLY recommend that you do!)
He goes on to talk about how he picks one new habit to start each year. He makes it simple and makes sure it’s something at which he knows he can succeed.
I took his advice last year and made my goal to get up before the kids and take a shower. I didn’t have high standards at all. I didn’t expect myself to have read my Bible or worked out or even blow dried my hair by the time the kids woke up – I just knew if I could get up 8-10 minutes earlier and get a shower in before they woke up, my whole day would go more smoothly.
And I was right.
Since getting up just a few minutes earlier wasn’t a HUGE endeavor, I was able to experience success quickly and it motivated me to keep adding to that habit.
I know it sounds silly, but that one little habit totally changed the trajectory of how I spent the rest of my time. I realized how much better of a mom I was able to be if I got up 30 minutes early and had some coffee after my shower. Not having to talk for a few minutes before the kids start bombarding me with their never ending (adorable too, but NEVER ending) stream of chatter makes all the difference in the world when it comes to how I am able to respond to them.
Then I started getting up and reading my Bible while I drank my coffee. Then I added on reading other books as well so that I could work on personal growth. Then my time in the morning motivated me so much that I started listening to podcasts about personally and mentally enriching topics rather than turning on the TV as mindless background noise while I folded clothes or got ready.
The habit of getting up early literally changed my life
In fact, I find it so valuable that I now get up 2-2.5 hours before my kids because I enjoy that time in the morning so much that it’s worth missing that sleep. Do I succeed every day? No. Sometimes I get in a funk and go several days without getting up early. I do still try to get up at least 10 minutes earlier than the kids because I realized what a foundational habit that was.
Am I saying that you need to get up 2 hours before your kids? No. I totally get that it might not be possible for you. I’ve had plenty of seasons where kids are in the bed with me and if I move a muscle they’re eyes are going to fly open and they’re going to be all over me. What I am saying is that you should…
Find your foundational habit
What are some habits that you need to develop to get you where you want to go? Having good goals are really great, but unless you put the habits in place that you need in order to reach your goals, those goals are nothing more than dreams. What habits do you need to start doing? What habits do you already have that you need to stop? What habits do you currently have that are not functioning in a way that they move you towards your goals?
Below are some habits that will change your life. Let me be clear and say that I don’t fancy myself an expert and I’m not saying I’ve nailed any of these habits 100% of the time. What I AM saying is that these are all habits that I have begun to develop and I notice a huge difference in my life when I do them consistently vs. when I don’t.
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5 Habits That Will Change Your Life:
1. Carving out quiet, relatively uninterrupted time to spend reading your Bible and in prayer daily.
I totally get that your time may only be able to be five minutes long. I have seasons like that too. There’s no “magic number” for the amount of time you should spend daily, but when you put the habit in place, even if it’s only five minutes, it’s easier to extend it from there.
Maybe you’ve been out of that habit for a while, or never really had it to begin with, and you don’t really know where to start. I’ve definitely been there!
Here are some resources to help:
Bible app – It’s totally free & you can find devotional plans on just about any topic.
Overwhelmed by My Blessings – This book was so foundational to me during a hard season of motherhood. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Truth Unchanging: Hearing God Daily in the Midst of Motherhood – I’m currently reading this book, and I love it.
2. Reading Books about Personal Growth/Development.
Okay, I know you might be rolling your eyes at me and yelling “when would I have time to READ in this chaos?!?!”
I get it!
I really love Hoopla for that reason. Many libraries are part of Hoopla. If you have a library card, you can download the Hoopla app on your phone and put in your library card number. Then you can check out 3 digital books per month. Some books are available as e-books, some are available as audio books, and some are available as both. They books automatically “return” after 3 weeks so you don’t even have to worry about library fines. (*ahem* …. not that I ever get library fines…. *eyeroll* … unless you count that one $50 fine that one time…. or that $34 fine another time….okay so maybe I get plenty of fines. Which is why Hoopla is great for me).
I would always prefer to sit with a physical book in my hand if I’m reading, but let’s be real – who has time for that in this season of life? I have found that reading e-books on my phone is helpful because my phone is always nearby and I can do it in the little minutes of margin here and there when I would otherwise be mindlessly scrolling social media. I prefer audiobooks the least, but I figure that listening to a book is better than not getting access to that information at all. Sometimes I will listen to an audiobook when I am driving, doing dishes, folding clothes, or at the gym. I listen to podcasts about various personal growth topics during those times as well.
My favorite books this past year have been:
The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron
Think, Learn, Succeed by Caroline Leaf
Financial Peace University by Dave Ramsey (I checked a very dated version out of the library, but I would recommend starting with Total Money Makeover or Financial Peace Revisited, both of which I plan to read this year).
Poverty, Riches, and Wealth by Kris Vallotton
Out of all of these habits I am the MOST hit or miss on this one. (Part of that is because chasing 3 kids around all day totally counts as exercise, right?!)
In reality, we do have a very active lifestyle and the kids and I do get plenty of physical activity. But there is something about having that 20-40 minutes away from the kids where I can just decompress & get some endorphins.
Exercise is so beneficial for your body, as well as your mind. We have a membership to our local YMCA – which I would HIGHLY recommend if you have one nearby you. It’s a bit pricey, but for the amount of stuff we get access to, it’s totally worth it. Exercise, activities for the kids, parent’s night out, the ability to drop the kids in childcare and go sit and not talk and read a book for 5 minutes in peace… totally worth it! Since they are a non-profit, they also have lots of scholarships and financial assistance for families who can’t afford a full membership. It’s amazing.
BUT, as amazing as it is, you don’t HAVE to have a gym membership in order to exercise. You can do exercise videos or sneak a walk outside, or take the kids on a bike ride, take them to the playground and do your exercises in a corner while they play. Exercise reduces stress, helps you sleep better, helps you think more clearly, gives you endorphins, etc. The benefits are endless. And you DON’T have to spend hours at the gym to do it.
4. Having a cleaning schedule.
Okay this habit is my newest habit, and talk about habits that will change your life! Y’all, I have not been able to keep a clean house to save my life. To be fair, I have a lot of things in my life right now and doing housework just always fell to the bottom of the priority list in light of the other things on my plate. And it still does. But when I can’t find unwrinkled clothes to put on because the clean, unfolded laundry is piled so high that it just looks like that’s its permanent storage solution, it stresses me out. And when I have to wash dishes BEFORE I can cook dinner, it really adds to the stress during an already hectic time of day.
Our house is less than 1200 square feet, and we have five of us living here. If there’s even a little bit of mess, it’s definitely felt. The good news is that with such a tiny space it doesn’t take that long to clean.
A friend of mine recommended the Clean Mama cleaning schedule. I have always rolled my eyes at cleaning schedules and assumed that they were for people who were more “together” than I was, but after I spent some time exploring her site I decided to give it a try.
Guys – it works.
I created chore charts for my kids so they “help” me with some tasks. I created a daily & weekly chart for myself with little check boxes (because I find such satisfaction in checking off a completed task).
Let me say that my house is not spotless and it’s definitely not magazine ready, but at least it doesn’t look like a tornado came through it 99% of the time anymore! The jobs take a lot less time to do if you stay on top of the schedule BEFORE things get really bad!
5. Planning Intentionally.
As far as habits that will change your life, this one is super duper important!
I want to be present with my kids.
I want to be able to do all the things.
But the reality is that there are so many things that need to get accomplished each week, that there’s no way I can get it all done without intentionally planning.
If I don’t have an intentional plan, the days just kind of happen to me and I’m constantly reacting to the situations that come up rather than being proactive about how we’re spending our time.
I really wanted a way to organize my thoughts and priorities and schedule visually so that I could be sure that I was spending my time wisely, rather than on things that just didn’t matter. After looking and not finding a planner that fit everything I needed, I just decided to create my own. I am LOVING it! I can plan the flow of my week and make sure that all of the important things are planned in there FIRST. It helps me to have the big picture, as well as the daily view of where I’m going and what the priorities are. There’s a place to track the habits I’m working on so that I can see my progress over time. I’m more than happy to share it with y’all! Subscribe in the box below to download it!
A final note about these habits that will change your life…
There you have it – five habits that will change your life. If you’re anything like me, you may be tempted to try and start them all at one time. DON’T. Pick ONE. Pick one habit and set a goal to do that habit every day. Make it something that you can easily succeed at. When you have mastered that habit, you’ll be able to add on to it. If you make your new habit too hard or complicated, it won’t be sustainable and you will be tempted to quit. Be sure to download your free planner so that you can keep track of your habits and intentionally plan out your priorities!
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