Looking at your monthly plan, you might be wondering how you’ll fit everything in. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day and yet there’s so much living to be done.
The good news, as we discovered earlier, is that studies have found most of us spend almost half our day in a haze of habits we may not even be fully aware of. I’m not suggesting we try to claw back all that time, but what if we could be more mindful about how our habits are playing out and use the simple habit loop we discovered earlier of cue, routine and reward to prioritise some of the changes we want most?
- Creating a weekly habit map. The best place to start is by creating a map of your week and noting down the key success habits you already have. For example, do you already have an exercise routine, do you have a regular meditation time, do you spend time with your family each evening, and so on? What are the habits that already exist in your week to bring your purpose, values, vision and hopes to life? And when do they happen? Write these on your weekly map.
- Are there other habits you’d like to add to make your most desired behaviours a sure thing? These don’t have to be big investments of energy or time; you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish in as little as 10 minutes. For example, if one of your hopes is to spend more time catching up with friends, a 10-minute habit of calling or writing to someone first thing each night after dinner can have you touching base with up to thirty people each month. Or, if one of your hopes is to learn more about a new topic, a 10-minute habit of reading a book or article each morning before you turn on your computer at work can have you quickly gaining more knowledge. What are the small habits you’d like to create in your week to start prioritising the changes you want to see in your life? When will these habits take place and how can you get started? How will you celebrate what you’ve done so that you’ll want to do it again tomorrow? Add these to your weekly map.
- Pay particular attention to your morning and evening routines – you want to start the day with power and finish with a good night’s sleep.
- Make weekly diary planning a habit so you can keep moving towards the outcomes you want. At each weekly update, tick off the things you’ve achieved – this gives you a sense of accomplishment and boosts your confidence.
Will these habits stick? Are they realistic? Do they fit in with your work hours and your family commitments? Will you still have time for rest and recovery?
Don’t set yourself up for failure. Start with small changes, just one at a time, and when a habit begins to stick, add the next one. And then the next one. And then the next one, until you feel that your weeks are truly being spent in the ways you find most rewarding.