I settled on my #oneword2019 in December as I was reading the book, Atomic Habits, by James Clear. When people claim something to be "life altering" I always question if it truly can be. I would rate this book as one of those. I was disappointed when it was done. Reading a short chapter each day was like having a little self help guide to kick start the day. There were so many applicable and common sense strategies to employ in my daily life in so many areas.
The book focused on making small incremental changes in areas of life you want to improve: career, relationships, productivity, fitness, nutrition, etc. Making those 1% changes would multiply to large improvement over time. A key concept that resonated was the concept of implementation intention. The idea is that we all have behaviors or habits we want to make or break. We want to work out more, eat better, have stronger relationships, a cleaner house, or be more productive. The key is how. If we don't purposefully plan for where and when this will take place it is easy to let it slip away with daily habits already in place. The book talks about the benefit of using an implementation intention is knowing what you want and how you will achieve it so you can prioritize and stay focused to keep away distractions.
I chose one specific habit to focus on as I read the book. I was really needing more sleep.
Problem: I wake up early to work out, but I stay up too late.
The book talked about being deliberate about your practice. It isn't enough to just be automatic in your habits. I always had an "intention" to go to bed by 10:00, but then I didn't put in the correct deliberate practices in place to make it happen. I've read plenty of research towards the value of sleep, but reading research doesn't put it into practice. I have been working on "habit stacking" that was one of the strategies in the book.
"After [CURRENT HABIT], I will [NEW HABIT]"
"When [I put my boys down for bed], I will [brush my teeth with them].
"After [I put the boys down], I will [wash my face and get my clothes ready for the gym].
I don't have the behaviors down consistently enough to say it is a solid habit, but I have done the habit stack enough times consistently to notice improvements that will lead me to continue working on this. I found the process of habit stacking was easy to implement so I've started it in other areas I've been wanting to improve beyond just sleep.
The Year Ahead
Productivity at work is always a goal. I have been trying to use an app called, Microsoft To Do, to keep track of my tasks and to prioritize each day my top three tasks to get done along with less urgent tasks. I need a way to be intentional about this. It hasn't become a clear habit in my life. I'm planning on how I can be more deliberate:
After [I prepare for bed each night] I will [update my To Do for the next day.]
After [I make my morning coffee] I will [prioritize my top three tasks.]
When I need to focus on a specific project for a long length of time I've been trying to be intentional about my focus.
After [30 minutes of work], I can [take a 5 minute mental break].
Creating these habit stacks help me be more intentional and is helping me feel more productive.
As outstanding each chapter of the book was, the appendix proved to hold even more learning. I loved his very candid point, "
"Your actions reveal how badly you want something. If you keep saying something is a priority but you never act on it, then you don't really want it. It's time to have an honest conversation with yourself. Your actions reveal your true motivations.
This goes back to being intentional. It is not enough to want. No matter how trivial or significant. As I reflect on 2018 I can see the areas I have been intentional have had noticeable improvements. Making small incremental changes work, but it only works if I am deliberate about the systems in place. The systems, once in place, lead to significant improvement.
Self improvement is never done, it is an endless process. I want to quit picking at my cuticles. I want to save more money to buy a new house. I want to eat cleaner more consistently. I want to be more present with my kids. I want adequate sleep to become habitual. I want to prioritize at work better. The key is being #intentional about how I will do this. This is my focus for 2019.
Mother, wife, teacher, learner, information seeker, outdoor lover, & I guess now a novice blogger.