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To Start a New Habit, Do This First

It’s exciting to think about refreshing our lives and routines in a new season. But before you begin, there’s a first step you need to take.

Starting a new healthy habit
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The dictionary definition of a “habit” describes a behavior that’s routine, settled, and often done subconsciously. You might not even notice it in your everyday life.

Psychology tells us that new routines take a long time to adopt—and possibly even longer to break. Two months of consistent investment in new behavior is just the starting place to ensure a sustainable, fully integrated habit.

This is a time of year to get excited about launching new behaviors, breaking old ones, and giving our lives a general refresh. But knowing what’s involved with making changes, it’s smart and healthy to pause and review what we’re currently doing on a daily basis.

READ MORE: 12 Positive Habits and How to Stick to Them

If habits are mostly subconscious, after all, who’s to say we won’t be reinventing the wheel by committing to new ones? Here’s how to start an inventory.

Give Yourself a Few Days

Plan on 2-4 days that are examples of your typical routine, and grab a notebook or open an electronic document to track your habits. A single thought-scan of your day isn’t enough to identify repeat behaviors, or notice the subtleties of habits that aren’t obvious at first glance.

READ MORE: A Simple Morning Habit to Improve Your Day

Focus on Daily Touchpoints

Wake-up, mealtimes, work routines, evening patterns, and bedtime are spaces we move through each and every day. Start there. Note behaviors you notice, like whether you get up from your desk every hour to re-fill your water bottle or grab a snack. Don’t judge or evaluate your habits, just list them.

READ MORE: How to Build Up Your Prayer Life by Habit Stacking

Review and Process

Look at your habits. Do they have something in common? Do you see categories of behavior, like responses to stressors, or managing energy fluctuations, or keeping track of complex schedules? Reflect on your behaviors with an eye toward what is serving your positive, inspired life—and what you want and need to release or replace.

This exercise will give you solid ground from which to launch new healthy habits in this new season. After all, when you have a clear vision of where you are, you can more easily step toward the place you want to be.

How clear a picture do you think you have of your current habits?

READ MORE: A Spiritual Approach to Making Exercise a Habit


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