Habits, habits, habits

Posted by Jennifer Campoli on September 29th, 2010
Filed under Motivation, Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

“Thoughts lead on to purposes; purposes go forth in action; actions form habits; habits decide character; and character fixes our destiny.”

~Tryon Edwards

I came across this quote yesterday and it's been sticking with me.

It's stickin because well, I'm frustrated. I am having one of those weeks (or months!) where I feel disorganized, chaotic, lazy, unfocused and all around irritated. Who can relate to that! :)

And what this quote said to me was simple: Our thoughts, our feelings, and our actions determine what happens day to day. And our actions stem from habit. And to be honest, my habits aren't really working all that well for me!

Let's talk examples.

I am a morning person. I have to face it. I feel better when I get up earlier. I feel worse if I don't. Here's the picture:

I fall asleep on the couch with my computer on my lap around midnight. I wake up at 2 am with a crick in my neck and make my way to the bedroom. The alarm is set for 6 am so that I can make it to spinning class. Alarm goes off. I hit snooze approximately 10 times which carries me to nearly 8 am. No spinning class. I wake up feeling like I could sleep the day away. I stumble into the kitchen, down a huge glass of water to snap me out of this funk and proceed to call the gym to sign up for the noon spinning class. The spinning class is full. Ok, moving on, no spinning today. I sit at the table and begin to plan my day. I'm distracted by the groggy feeling in my head and having a difficult time getting to work immediately. It takes till about 11am for me to finally get into my groove. Still frustrated at the hours lost.

Lovely. This one behavior (and annoyance mind you) leads to my feelings of disorganization, distraction, laziness and all around no good.

But you see, the beautiful thing about habits and behaviors is that they are learned. Anything can be learned right!?!?


Here's what I know about changing habits and behaviors:

  • Start with one thing, not fifty
  • Make sure you are clear with what you want to change
  • Make the new habit or new behavior clear in your mind
  • Set yourself up for SUCCESS

I do what I normally do when I'm hankering for change: I READ ALOT.

So, after quite a bit of reading on the topic, here are 7 steps to forming a new habit (inspired by Brian Tracy):


1. Make a decision

Decide that you are going to create a new habit. My new habit is simple: wake up at 6 am every morning. Done.

2. No excuses (at least for now!)

Let's be serious here. I am the queen of making up excuses. I can rationalize just about everything- especially clothing purchases, sleeping longer and vacation days during the week. And I love that! BUT…sometimes we have to get a bit real if we want to make a difference in our life. If your new habit is to follow your budget. Well hun, start carrying a small spiral with your budget written in there for the first month and refer to it every single day! No excuses!

Take yourself seriously, you see change. Make excuses, no change.

3. Tell others

Some may disagree with this but I quite like this one: Share with others what you are doing. Create your accountability group! No these people aren't going to be watching you like your mom did when you did your homework unless you want them to. The key here is to tell people who you know will support you and help you experience success. Don't tell the coworker who likes to make light of how much better he or she is. :)

4. Visualize

Close your eyes and dream. Picture yourself doing exactly what it is you are trying to do. Tonight I will be falling asleep to the vision of me waking up at 6 and jumping out of bed to start my day. If you are trying to start cooking dinner during the week, picture yourself with that cute little apron on reading your favorite recipe in the kitchen. Make the vision clear and full of detail.

5. Create an affirmation

I love this one! Say to yourself over and over what it is that you want to do.

"I write my todo list every morning so that I am organized and efficient."

"I create fun shopping list with ingredients for all the meals I want to cook."

"I write my workout schedule out for the week with a new class on Fridays!"

Whatever the affirmation is, it should make you feel excited. It should be something easy to repeat often throughout the day as your reminder!

6. Persist

Expect roadblocks, expect hard days and expect days where the last thing you want to do is get up at 6am! But…decide that you want to change and plan for the tough days. Repeat your affirmation, visualize all day if you have to!

7. Reward + celebrate

There's a reason sticker charts work so well in Kindergarten! We love rewards! When we are given rewards, that increases the occurrence of doing the behavior again and again. Celebrate and commend yourself for doing this new behavior every time it is done. This creates enjoyment and those feel good feelings associated with the new habit.

Now, implement and go! I'm starting today. I'm starting right now.

Share your habit forming tricks. What works for you? What doesn't?

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3 Responses to “Habits, habits, habits”

  1. Heather says:

    Hi Jenn,
    I had to tie getting up early with something other than myself in order to get myself to do it. When I was nursing Liam, I would stay in bed in the morning until he woke me up (usually around 8ish) after getting up with him a few times during the night. But I realized that when I get up right when he does in the morning, then I have to be "on" as soon as I get up…makes for a very grumpy mommy! So,4 months ago when we moved and Liam started sleeping through the night, I decided I would get up when Mike does at 6. He gets in the shower and I make the bed…that way I can't get back in :) Then I make his coffee and his lunch for him. I realize he can do this himself but I enjoy doing this for him and it gives me a reason to get up…I actually feel bad if I don't get down there to make some coffee for him before he goes off. I also get to have 15 min with him before we start our hectic days AND I'm up when Cam gets up and we get some Mommy Cameron time before Liam graces us with his presence :) On mornings when I have NO desire to get up, I actually have faith now that it will be ok, I just need to get over the hump of getting up and I tell myself that and it actually works…go figure! Still, when Mike's gone on a business trip, I set the alarm for 6 and guess what? I hit snooze EVERY time and don't get up until the kids get up and end up grumpy again, so for now, I'm still depending on him as my crutch but I'm ok with that.
    You know what helps too, especially in the Fall, is going outside as the sun is coming up with a cup of coffee and breathing in the fresh fall air…love that so much! It's just slightly addicting~ man sorry didn't realize this would be so long!

  2. Jenn says:

    Sister, you are so incredible and so fabulous! You inspire me in many ways. Thank you for sharing!

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