Habits are vital to developing as a leader. They are foundational to success in just about every area of life. But even though we know they are important, many of us struggle with creating new habits.
What holds us back from developing habits, and how can we start taking steps towards creating new ones?
WHY WE DON’T CREATE NEW HABITS:
Creating new habits often means taking time for ourselves as women. And what happens when we try to do this? We feel guilty. We look at other women and compare, and think, “Well they don’t need time away from their kids – why should I?” Or, we feel bad simply admitting that we need a break.
Obviously, there is balance here, but I can tell you that my husband and I went away for a weekend as soon as it was feasible for us to do so. Not because we didn’t love our daughter, but because we did! We knew she was safe, and we knew that we needed to reconnect as a couple.
In talking about the concept of taking care of ourselves, Heather from the God Centered Mom Podcast says: “It feels selfish, I think – that’s the lie we tell ourselves.” Kirk Martin of Celebrate Calm replied with this: “It ends up becoming the most self-less thing I can do to take care of myself emotionally, physically, and spiritually – so that, I am now whole, and I have energy to give out to you, and when you have a problem, now I can help you instead of making it about me.” (Listen to the entire episode here.)
What I want moms and women to know (myself included) is that it is OKAY – no, it’s NECESSARY – to take care of ourselves. No guilt for doing this!
[bctt tweet=”I want women to know is that it is OKAY to take care of ourselves.”]
We think that caring for ourselves and our own wellness requires a lot of time. For example, perhaps you think of the “big things” such as getting away for a weekend or going to get a massage. Or maybe we are already so busy that we just don’t know how we could possibly squeeze in any extra time for taking care of ourselves.
But it’s possible to develop healthy habits in just 15-30 minutes per day (sometimes even less). Often we think we need a large chunk of time to work on our goals, so we procrastinate because we never have that big block of time. But the truth is, you can accomplish a lot in 15 minutes of focused time.
[bctt tweet=”Developing new wellness habits doesn’t have to require huge amounts of time!”]
So what now? You know you want to create new habits, and you’re done feeling guilty or using the excuse of time.
Let me preface this by saying that I am NOT an expert. I highly recommend using a life coach if you really want some serious life change. However, I can share what has worked for me, and I will use one example of a change I made in the past year which has made a big difference.
5 STEPS TO CREATING NEW WELLNESS HABITS
- Make a decision
If you want to develop a new habit, you must decide to do it. I decided last Spring that I wanted to start getting up earlier. I realized that starting the day by immediately having demands placed on me (daughter wants to play, making breakfast, taking care of the dog, talking to husband) was doing nothing for my personal wellness.
I was feeling stressed by starting my day that way. Many other wise women shared that they valued getting up earlier than their kids so they could have time alone. I decided that I truly wanted to develop this new habit.
- Make a plan
You can make a decision about anything, but without a plan in place, you’re likely to fail. When I decided to start getting up early in the morning, I made a plan about how I would do that. I set my alarm – sort of an obvious one. I prepped the coffee pot the night before, so that all I had to do was plug it in when I woke up. And I had my Bible & other reading materials ready in the place I planned to sit when I got up.
- Get accountability
This is one of the most effective ways to develop a new habit. I asked a friend if she wanted to get up early, as well, and she said yes. We decided on the time, and we committed to texting one another when we were up. So when the alarm went off, and all I wanted to do was roll over, I knew that I would get the text, and she would be waiting for my response. Having that accountability motivated me when I didn’t have the motivation to do it myself.
- Choose one habit at a time to focus on
If you feel overwhelmed thinking about all the areas of wellness you want to work on, instead choose just one area, and then narrow down to one specific habit to develop. Once you’ve got one new habit down pat, then choose the next one.
For me, I had been doing pretty well with getting up early until my daughter went through a phase of waking up multiple times per night. This was physically and emotionally draining, and for a time, I realized that it was more important for me to sleep a bit longer than get up early. However, getting out of the habit made it hard to get back in. So at the start of the new year, I decided to focus on this habit again, even though there are a few others I want to develop this year as well.
- Just do it
This may be painfully obvious, but once you decide you are going to change or develop a new habit, and you make a plan, and you have accountability – you have to actually start doing it.
When my alarm goes off at 6am, I get out of bed immediately. I know that if I don’t just do it, I will be hitting the snooze for an hour. Ultimately, changing a habit or creating a new one requires taking action. It might be the action of refraining from something, or it might be the action of doing something. Either way, there is conscious effort involved.
Want help creating new habits as a leader?
Join the Purposeful Leadership Facebook Group to connect with Christian women in leadership. We can help support you as you work towards developing new habits. I can’t wait to see you in there!
There are some things I really need to change. Thanks for your post, I’m thinking about joining the FB group, it sounds awesome! Amy
I am glad it was helpful Amy! I would love to have you join the challenge and be a part of our group. It is so helpful to have other people who are there to support & encourage you as you work towards creating new habits.
Sorry, I left the wrong address on the other comment!
Oh that time factor does us in, doesn’t it! I have made a commitment that time for fitness comes before all things and I will have time to do all things after.
So true! It’s an easy “excuse”, but I think it’s also important to consider what our priorities are and make sure we make time for them. Way to go on prioritizing the fitness – that affects so many aspects of our lives!
I have enjoyed reading your tips. I agree that changes need to be planned and achievable.
I am an Exercise Physiologist from http://www.healthyfamilyhappyfamily.com.au and I teach my clients that the body would prefer 2 minutes of exercise per day than no exercise at all.
We put too much pressure on ourselves to be “perfect”, “fit”, and “healthy”. Small changes like you have mentioned is more important for our confidence, guilt, and health. Thank you for sharing such a great article.
Yes, good point! The baby steps really are what lead to long-term progress.
Great reminder of how to get back on track!
Can’t think of any woman who doesn’t need to read this and follow your advice. I especially love the “choose one habit at a time” part. I am always trying to multi-task and find myself being less and less efficient and not enjoying life. Gonna try to be more focused in my goals and projects. Thanks for sharing
Thanks so much! Yes, I do find that I am less efficient when I am multitasking. Same goes for accomplishing big goals, too.
Love this post and definitely needed to hear this today. Pinned and thanks for sharing!
Wonderful post! I couldn’t agree more! It’s so important to have a little bit of time for ourselves to recharge so that we will be giving to others from the overflow of our hearts rather than giving until we burn out. Thanks so much for these suggestions!
Thanks Michelle! I am so glad it was helpful. I agree, taking care of ourselves is really something we must do for the sake of others (not just ourselves).
This was concise and super helpful – thank you!! I’m off to drill down even more on what I REALLY want to cultivate as habits. 🙂