I’ve been thinking a lot about habit development lately. Habits can be good or bad, can help or hinder our efforts. As a mom boss, developing good habits can help push your business forward, make your days go more smoothly, and maybe (hopefully) even rub off on those little ones that are hanging around when you’re trying to get work done.
I recently read an article, 28 Best Habits to Have in Business from Entrepreneur. I loved the habits suggested in this article. Specifically, there were three habits that really stood out for me. The reason these three struck me was because I think they could help both as a business owner and a mom. So, I’ve decided to write a series on these particular habits:
- Wake Up Early
- Manage Your Time
- Set Daily Goals
How to Develop Good Habits
Before diving in, however, it is probably a good idea to learn about how you can develop better habits. What strategies can help us move in the right direction over time? It would be unwise to assume, for example, that you can automatically start waking up at 4:30am if you’ve been waking up at 7am. Even if you’ve drank the proverbial Cool-Aid and really want to start waking up early, it is going to be challenging for you to “Just Do It”(I love the slogan, but folks, it doesn’t apply to everything in life).
So, here are some strategies you can start using today to start working on developing any habit you feel would be useful to you (personally or professionally).
- Choose Something Important. Make sure whatever you’re focusing on developing is important to you. Ask yourself how you’d benefit by developing this habit and why that is important. If you choose something that might seem important (like to others) but isn’t important to you it’s not going to work. Maybe you don’t see getting up early as important. That’s totally fine. Choose something else. Just make sure it is important to you.
- Focus on One Habit at a Time. Don’t try to develop 10 habits at once. I’ve tried this before and it leads to developing no habits at all because it is too overwhelming.
- Start Small. Take small, meaningful steps toward your habit, not giant leaps. Using the sleep example from above, instead of waking up two hours earlier than you do now, try 15 -30 minutes earlier for a week and then build on that.
- Track What You Care About. When you care about something you pay attention to it. So, if you care about the habit you’re trying to develop you need to pay attention to it. This could be something as simple as putting a star or check mark in your calendar for everyday that you “do the thing”. I have a friend who has been tracking how long she has been following her morning routine by writing a number in the top corner of her journal. I think she’s over 800 days. Clearly the habit is developed, but it’s pretty cool that she’s continuing to track it—it shows that it’s something she really cares about.
- Reflect. How’s it going? Check in with yourself. If you’re only able to do what it is you’re working on 3/7 days you should adjust your expectations. Did you go too big? Are you trying to do too much all at once? How can you revamp your daily habit to make it achievable? Going back to the sleep example, let’s say you’ve tracked your habit for a week and you only got up twice at 6:30 am. Maybe you need to set your goal for the following week at 6:45 am. Hit that 7 days in a row and then try bumping up to 6:30am. There is no judgement. The only way you fail at developing habits is by stopping your work on them.
- Stick With It. It takes time to develop habits. How will you know when it is developed? Some people suggest 21 days. I personally say that if I’ve done something everyday for 30 days in a row (or 30 times in a row if it’s not a daily goal) then I’ve successfully established that habit. Sometimes, like my friend and her morning routine, I will continue to track that habit, but other times, I stop tracking it. It just depends on what the habit is, how much time it takes to track, and how important it is to me to keep tracking it. Remember: Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to track 15 things per day.
Tools to Help Your Habit Development
To help you out on your habit development journey I’ve created a Habit Development Tracker that you can use to develop your habit of choice.
The teacher in me loves little stickers…so the spaces are big enough for some star or smiley face stickers, but you can also just put a check mark or an ‘X’ in the box as well. Whatever you do don’t skip the questions at the top part of this sheet. Even if you’re not using this particular tracker and are going use your calendar or another habit tracking tool, ask yourself these questions and write the answers down somewhere you can revisit as needed:
- What habit do I want to develop?
- How will I benefit from this habit?
- Why is this important to me?
If you’re someone who wants a tracker on your phone, I’d suggest trying Done: A Simple Habit Tracker App. It is free to start and is very customizable. By far my favorite!
Comment below and let me know what you’re working on, how it’s going, and your own unique habit development hacks.