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Several years ago, a leader in my life told me how she would get up early and read her Bible in the morning. She shared how it was so helpful to start her day that way.

I remember thinking, “Well, I could never do that. I’m not a morning person, and I’m SO tired as a mom of a little one.”

And that was true. I am not naturally a morning person, and I did have a child who didn’t sleep a whole lot early on. I didn’t think there was any possible way that I could get up earlier than my child to have time with God.

But guess what? Now, I do get up each morning around 6am (give or take a bit), and I start my day with quiet time on the couch. I read God’s word, I sometimes write or pray, and I drink my coffee. It is glorious, and I actually look forward to that time each morning.

Why habits matter in a leader's life

If my friend had never challenged me to consider this new habit, I’m not sure I would have taken the first step. Thankfully, she was bold enough to encourage me to do this.

I didn’t start that habit right away. In fact, I think it was a couple years later when I actually took action and began this habit consistently. But I’ve always remembered that conversation, and I’m grateful for it.

The more I consider and learn about leadership, the more I am convinced that the small daily habits are what help us to become better leaders.

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Often we look at leaders and we see them doing these big, exciting things. And we want to do those things. We want to speak on stage. We want to write books that sell thousands of copies. We want to start a non-profit or run a 6 or 7 figure business.

But we don’t think about all the hard work that got them to that point in their lives. We don’t consider the 5am wake ups or the daily writing habits they developed or the fact that they spoke for free for the first 5 years of their career.

It’s easy to look at the end result and desire that, without being willing to develop the habits needed to achieve the result.

Here’s Why Habits Matter in a Leader’s Life:

  1. Habits eliminate decisions.
  2. Have you heard of decision fatigue? It’s what you experience when you are constantly making decisions ALL day long. It’s the overwhelm you feel when you have yet another decision to make. More and more research has been done about this, and it’s a real thing! I have experienced it in my own life many times.

    But you know what helps reduce decision fatigue? Habits!

    The habit of having a morning routine eliminates the decision of what you need to do when you first get out of bed, because you already know. The habit of creating a meal plan for the week helps to eliminate the decision of what to make for dinner each night (I’m still working on this one, friends).

    Creating habits helps to reduce the mental overload you experience as a woman and as a leader.

  3. Habits reduce stress in your life.
  4. When you think about the upcoming week or month, do you feel overwhelmed? Do you feel like there is simply too much to do and not enough time to do it?

    I have felt that way many times. But what I’ve noticed is that, as I have developed more regular habits, it has helped to create routines in my days and weeks. These daily and weekly routines lead to regular rhythms in my schedule.

    Sometimes, I’m in a season where the rhythm is moving faster and there are more layers to manage. Other times, I’m in a season where the rhythm is slower and there’s less moving parts. But either way, even when I’m in the busier season, if I have regular habits that have created routines, I’m less likely to feel overwhelmed.

    Some people resist the idea of creating habits or routines because it feels less inspired, less flexible, and less authentic.

    But the truth is, when you have habits and routines, you actually can feel more free to do that spontaneous or inspired thing, because you know what’s going on and where you have margin.

    Woman practicing hand lettering

    Not to mention that you can (and should) build margin into your routines, rather than pack them as tightly as possible. Having that white space and margin is necessary for optimal productivity.

    I realize that for some personalities, this process might be easier or more difficult than for others. I don’t want to dictate how you do this or what your habits and routines look like. But I do believe that if you create ones that work for you, you will experience less stress.

  5. Habits help build character and endurance.
  6. Character is foundational if you want to be a leader in your life and in the world around you. And creating daily habits will help build that character.

    When I decided I wanted to start getting up earlier to read my Bible and pray before the day got going, I had to be disciplined. I had to do something that was against my natural inclination.

    I really love sleep. I love that feeling of my warm and cozy bed in the morning. But I knew that creating this habit was going to benefit me in the long run.

    By using some of the steps I talk about in this post, I was able to create the new habit. And I believe that helped to develop my endurance.

    Dictionary.com defines endurance as: “the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina”.

    When you have spent time developing habits as a leader, you are naturally building up your endurance to withstand the challenges of life.

  7. Habits build upon each other.
  8. Have you ever noticed that when you start exercising, you are more inspired to eat healthier? Or when you start focusing on cleaning up the kitchen each day, you naturally want to keep other parts of the house cleaned up?

    Maybe it’s just me, but I have found that when I start developing one habit, I can use that momentum to work on a different habit. It’s exciting to start seeing progress in one area, and it inspires me to focus on other areas of my life.

    I still advise against trying to create too many habits at once, but I do think that if you start developing one habit, you’ll be more inclined to continue doing so with other habits.

    You also begin to develop confidence as you build habits. Once you’ve developed a small habit, it makes it easier to tackle a bigger habit or routine.

  9. Habits inspire other people.
  10. If you are a leader, you know that people are watching you. They are following your example in life. Whether it’s your own children, women in a small group, your team at work, or the soccer team you coach, someone is watching you.

    Your healthy habits will inspire them to develop habits as well. I can think of many women in my life who have both encouraged and challenged me to develop specific habits over the years. Some of those leaders were people that I had close contact with, and others are ones that I’ve simply watched from afar.

    For example, when I see a woman killing it in her business, I watch to find out what habits and routines she has developed. When I observe a mom that seems to have a handle on managing her family’s schedule, I try to find out what her daily and weekly routine is like.

    These women inspire me to follow in their footsteps. Most likely, my routines and habits will look different. But seeing other leaders with healthy habits helps me to see that it’s not rocket science.

Success in leadership, ministry, business, marriage or motherhood often comes from the small daily choices we make. In the mundane of everyday life.

If you are convinced that habits matter in your life, but you’re not sure how to start creating new ones, check out this post.

If you’d like support around developing your leadership as a Christian women, I’d love to have you join us in the Purposeful Leadership Facebook Group!