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Tips & Tricks Tuesday: Creating habits for personal growth

Tuesday, September 11, 2012 by Andrew Conkling

It is pretty satisfying to complete any task you've put on your list for a given day, but what about those that fit with some larger goals you've set for yourself? In this week's tip, kochava outlines a method for setting a goal and using a daily task to help create a good habit.

Leo Babauta runs a website called Zen Habits, which eventually led to a book called The Power of Less. According to his blog, "Zen Habits is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, [and] find happiness."

While the idea that it takes 28 days of repetition to create a habit is contested by some scientists, the concept of repetition being key to habit-building is true. Normally, I associate habit-building with discrete actions: working out, flossing, etc. However, when I read The Power of Less, I began to think about habit-building to enrich my personal growth. But I started with a "normal" habit to see if I could make the system work.

I began with flossing. I made a to do "Habit: Flossing" and made it due every day, priority 1. Every day, I was happy to check that off first thing in the morning, and it started my day off on the right foot. Ignoring how long building a habit might take, I let the to do repeat every day until it actually began to annoy me to check off something that I had done so automatically. It was a "check off" that no longer had any value to me because it would be like checking off "wake up in the morning."

After I knew I could build a habit using this method, I began to focus on more personal growth-oriented habits, one or two a month depending on the habit (disclaimer: author suggests only one habit per month).

I created a list called "Growth." I added ideas to it from The Power of Less and the Zen Habits blog. Some are action-oriented, and some are more mind-set-oriented. For each idea I had, I made a to do "Habit: X" with no due date. Just collecting ideas. As each new month approaches, I look at the list, and see what I would like to improve that month. Once I decide on a mission, I set the due date for the first of the month, set it to repeat every day, and see how I do. It's not always successful on the first go around (AKA: "Habit: Be an Early Riser"), but I'm a better person than I was.

Here are some samples from my list:

  • Habit: Exercise for 5 minutes
  • Habit: Eat slowly and chew food better
  • Habit: Eat one veggie
  • Habit: Train dog for Canine Good Citizenship Test
  • Habit: Be early
  • Habit: Follow an evening routine
  • Habit: Put things where they belong
  • Habit: Meditate for 5 minutes
  • Habit: Will this simplify my life?
  • Habit: Single task (instead of multi-tasking)
  • Habit: Pray

Etc etc etc

Go forward and be a better, happier, more productive person!

Thanks for sharing this tip, kochava! You're our Tips & Tricks Tuesday winner this week.

Do you have a suggestion for our weekly Tips & Tricks post? Got an interesting set-up or idea? Head over to the Tips & Tricks forum, add a new topic, and let us know how you use Remember The Milk. Each week we'll give away a 1 year Pro account to the user whose idea inspires the Tips & Tricks Tuesday blog post for that week.

Posted in: Tips & Tricks