I shared my goals for 2013 with you already; but there are other changes I’m making. At first I called them “resolutions,” but that’s not exactly right. Plus, everyone knows resolutions are those things we all abandon come February, and I want these habits to stick around longer than that!
And that’s what I really want: new habits. It generally takes time to form a habit, but did you know there’s a loophole? The brilliant Heath brothers discussed it in Switch: you can make an “instant habit” by setting up what they call “action triggers,” so that your brain knows when X happens, then you will do Y. For example, “After I wake up, then I will turn on the light.” These if-then plans bring about amazing results with relatively little effort–if you choose them well.
These are the habits I’ve already put into practice for 2013.
Light the candle. When I sit down to write in the morning, I love to light a candle when I get to work. I’m turning this into a ritual instead of a sometimes-practice. I’m choosing this small indulgence in advance to enhance an early morning ritual I love.
Keep a quote journal. I used to keep one and I somehow dropped the habit. I’m picking it back up, because some wonderful insights beg to be written pen-on-paper, not in my phone or my computer. I have a new green moleskine for this purpose (that I just jotted the first quote in, from Brené Brown’s Daring Greatly). When I read or hear a quote worth keeping, I’ll reach for my notebook.
Take more baths. Everyone knows great ideas come in the shower, right? Well, I heard an interesting spin on this recently: the shower’s great for fast thoughts, but baths are best for slow thoughts. I’d like to welcome more slow thoughts. (It’s a stretch to call this a habit, especially because I’m struggling to come up with an action trigger. It’s more like a resolution. At least I have lots of room for improvement: I took exactly zero baths in 2012.)
Get off the computer at 9:00. When I don’t, my whole routine unravels. If I don’t get off the computer, I don’t start reading, if I don’t read, I don’t go to bed, if I don’t go to bed, I can’t get up on time. So when the clock strikes 9, I’m closing my laptop.
Read fiction before bed. I’ve heard that it’s hard to unwind if you read nonfiction before bed, so I’m making this my new rule of thumb. Plus, it will help me reach my fiction reading goal for 2013.
What new habit would you like to make?