We have dozens of tiny habits that drive each day and most of the time we don’t even realize what they are. We go on autopilot as we fall into familiar routines, and yet for many of us, some of those routines haven’t even been planned, they just happened as a result of any number of possible circumstances, needs, or experiences. Sometimes this is great! These routines and habits can certainly help to make our lives easier and less mentally exhausting, however, some of these unintentional habits are not actually serving us.
Many of us find ourselves in these “ruts” because we aren’t clear about our priorities. I mean, yes, we have a vague idea of our priorities, like that family is important, and friends are important, and work is important, but we haven’t taken the time to intentionally decide HOW important each of those areas are and how that knowledge impacts our daily lives.
This leads us to constantly responding to the “urgent” tasks, the activities that others encourage or pressure us to take up, and whatever happens to be easiest when we are tired.
Discovering our priorities is pretty easy for most of us. We usually have a running list in our heads of the things that we want to be important even if our actions don’t always line up, but I want to encourage you to dig a bit deeper. Beside a list of your top 3-5 priorities (in order of importance!), write down the top three feelings or qualities that you want to define most of your day. For example, you could write down: intentional, peaceful, and organized, or maybe motivated, focused, and confident. Just choose three adjectives that really resonate with you.
Releasing and Replacing
Now that you know both your priorities and how you want feel as you go about your day, you have a guide to measure your habits! You can now ask yourself how each action fits into your priorities and how you want to feel. We talked last week about how easy it is to choose numbing out at the end of a long day. In the scenario about choosing to binge your favorite show in the evening, you can now make a conscious and intentional decision rather than feeling as if you are being passively sucked into the type of rest that the culture is selling. Maybe you do choose to watch one or two episodes, but then you turn off the TV early enough to avoid the blue light interfering with your sleep, and allowing you enough time to wind down with a bath, a book, or a luxurious skin care routine.
With this framework of consciously releasing the things that aren’t serving you, and replacing them with actions and habits that will support you, you can intentionally create big changes with the smallest of moments! And because you have intentional actions to replace the habits that aren’t serving you, then you significantly less likely to fall back into old habits!