The lesson I learned that day was to do all I can to protect all new habits from the factors that can destroy it until I'm certain my habits have grown a deeply grounded root system. One of the methods I'm testing to bring me through the "habit infancy stage" is creating an "Every time I"... list. "What in the world is an every time I list," you ask. This is a list you can create (either written down or mentally) of the results you get every time you do something. For every action we take, a myriad of results are created. Typically the results are available to us long term so, more often then not, we quit (and our poor little seedling is trampled) before we see those results. But what we need to remember is we are creating those results even if we don't see them now.
So an every time I list is an inventory of results we [will] get every time we do something. For example, I'm working on creating a long-term habit of regular exercise. As you probably know, it's not that easy to get up on the regular and work out. So in order to get me to do it, I run down my every time I list which will go something like this: "Every time I exercise"
- My heart gets stronger
- I burn calories efficiently all day long
- My muscles are more toned
- Clothes fit better
- I love looking in the mirror
- I make better eating choices
- My energy skyrockets
- I feel so good about myself
- My flat stomach emerges
- My skin glows
The list goes on. Notice how the list is stuff I already know but I can't help but to take action after reciting the list to myself. How could I not exercise after acknowledging all these wonderful benefits I'll receive if I just take this one simple step.
Another way to swing this list is to create an "every time I don't list." I use this list for habits I want to break. For instance, I have this habit of checking my email first thing in the morning. There's nothing wrong with this except that there are other (more powerful) actions I could be doing in the morning (like exercising). Also when I start the morning on the computer, hours later I notice I'm browsing various websites while wondering were the time went. So in this case my "every time I don't" list would look like:
"Every time time I don't check my email first in the morning":
- I can plan my day.
- I can mediate and visualize
- I can start my day by going to the gym.
- I can invest 20 minutes cleaning my home.
Before writing this post, I put this method to the test while standing in line at Big Lots. There I was unloading my items at the checkout line when I noticed that I picked up a bag of Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili chips. Casually including a bag of chips with my purchase had become a newly acquired habit. As I stared at the bag of chips I silently began saying "every time I chose not to buy chips I......
Next thing you know, I'm leaving the line, chips in hand, placing it back into the display from whence it came. I felt so good about myself afterwards. Since then, this technique has worked for me quite well. Sometimes I can do the list silently, sometimes I gotta say it out loud in order to motivate me. Either way, it works.
Try it and let me know your experience.