As a Dad, business owner, and blogger, I have much more on my task list than I can reasonably complete on any given day. So, being able to develop good habits is critical to my sanity and my health.
Knowing how to develop good habits includes checking my progress periodically and making adjustments that keep me on course.
Yesterday, we completed the first quarter of 2021. Ninety days into the year, I’m looking back at my New Year’s Resolutions and looking forward to continuing or updating them over the next three months.
Three rules will guide my habit-tweaking process.
Rule #1 to Develop Good Habits: Rank
At the beginning of 2021, I made several resolutions but didn’t expect to keep all of them for the entire year. Instead, I envisioned them like a pyramid with my top-ranked habit as its pinnacle.
This year, my number one priority was to wake up at the same time every morning, seven days a week. Straightforward enough, except for one thing.
I prepared for being in different time zones by adjusting my wakeup time and getting up 30 minutes earlier every time I traveled to a new US time zone:
- EDT 6:00 AM
- CDT 5:30 AM
- MDT 5:00 AM
- PDT 4:30 AM
- AKDT 4:00 AM
The time zone changes aren’t frequent. However, adjusting my wake-up time for each one is essential to help me to develop a good habit.
Getting up at the same time for the past three months has done more than revolutionize my daily schedule. I haven’t slept so well since my early teens!
I could have resolved to stick with a specific bedtime, but prioritizing was more critical. I needed to decide which habits are essential and commit to them – even if it means sacrificing other equally desirable practices.
Committing to a specific evening would have been harder to control, so I went with a wake-up time. The drawback is that staying up too late some nights means I’m more tired the next day. But I can live with that.
For my family, the downside is that about eight-and-a- half-hours before my wake-up time, I start to fade. “Uh-oh, Dad needs to go to bed!” has become a common evening refrain.
Rule #2 to Develop Good Habits: Refine
Three months in, it’s time for me to refine my wake-up habit.
First, I need to be consistent about when I actually get out of bed. Some mornings, it’s right at the top of the hour. On others, it’s five to fifteen minutes early or late.
Moving forward, I’ll be hopping out of bed right at the top of the hour.
Other sleep related-habits I’m working on are avoiding coffee and not taking naps, even though naps are healthy for us. I’m training my body to have a consistent sleeping schedule. And, according to the Sleep Foundation, naps might interfere with that rhythm.
So during the second quarter of 2021, I’ll work harder at sticking with the no-naps rule.
As for my coffee habit, I have two reasons for replacing it with tea:
I haven’t tasted a drop of coffee this year! However, more often than not, I also skip the green tea.
So, my goal is to refine this resolution and commit to drinking green tea every day.
I’ve succeeded with some additional high-priority commitments, including completing 1,000 push-ups a day. But keeping a few others has been a struggle.
Rule #3 to Develop Good Habits: Reduce and Recommit
My three most challenging struggles?
- Daily journaling
- Daily dates with at least one family member (including walks and intentional phone calls).
- Reading three books a week.
In mid-February, I fell off the journaling and daily-dates wagons. I did a little better with the reading, but lately, it’s been closer to one weekly book. Now that April’s here, I’ll refine my original plan and recommit to these three habits in amended form.
First, concerning my daily journal – I’ve tried journaling for many years. In 2021, the focus has been more on accounting for what I accomplish every thirty minutes of the day.
It’s been a struggle, so I’ll refine the resolution by losing the “every thirty minutes” part. Instead, I’ll update my journal at least once a day.
Second, this year I’ve spent more time than ever time with my family. I especially love our walks and one-on-one times. Yet, I’m often surprised by how much time goes by without spending individual time with one of my kids. One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to spend twenty-five minutes a day of individualized time with a family member.
Perhaps my self-expectations have been too high. Carving out twenty-five minutes a day has been difficult. So I’ll refine this one to just five daily minutes of one-on-one time with at least one family member.
If I have more than five minutes, great! But lowering this and my other time commitments will genuinely help me develop good habits.
Finally, the one book a week I’m currently reading (instead of the three I started the year with} is a far cry from the book-a-day I was reading a year ago. But it’s better than nothing, and at this point in my life, it’s also more realistic!
And I’m free to increase it to two or three whenever I like. Who knows? Maybe this month, I’ll read another book on how to develop good habits. The beginning of May would be a great day to report my findings!