How to Make and Keep Good Habits
After becoming a mother of 2, it got harder to get things done. I jumped from one task to the next and was disappointed when little to nothing was done by the end of the day. That’s when I decided to read up on how to maintain habits and get things done and how I applied it to writing every day. Here’s what I learned.
The 2-minute rule
This rule is simple, but it is a lifesaver. No matter how busy my day was, I decided to go for at least 2 minutes. 2 minutes might not sound like much, but they put you in action. Once you are in action, you are motivated to do more. And if you are busy, these 2 minutes help you stay on track.
Defeating rigid habits
One of the main challenges I faced was my rigid thoughts. I discovered that how we imagine a habit to be, might be the reason we give up so fast. For example, I used to blog in the morning before having kids. Now, I have an early rising toddler, so writing in the morning is quite hard. So if I only tried to write in the morning, and it didn’t work, I end up feeling disappointed and decide it is hard to be a blogger while being a mother. When, in fact, the real problem is not really writing, it is the rigid timing I gave for writing.
Consistency is the key to discipline
I learned this while trying to raise my kids. Consistency is the key to add any habit. We need to be consistent with ourselves to acquire a new habit. When we try to add a new habit, our brain starts to resist. This resistance is very normal, as your brain is not used to this habit. With consistency, your brain decides to give up and adapt. Consistency helps your brain adapt faster.
Goals vs. System
I learned to set systems that build towards goals, for example:
- Goal: publish 10 articles.
- System: write daily for 30 minutes.
Thinking about how to have a system, instead of goals helped me a lot. I didn’t plan to publish daily, I planned to write daily instead. During the first month, I managed to publish only 8 pieces but got lots of drafts. This helped me stay motivated and improve my writing. Focusing on goals only would have made me disappointed and lose hope.
Focus on what you are good at
One thing I discovered in this challenge, is that I am not good at writing about everything. How naive I was thinking that to be a writer, I should have the ability to write about anything I set my mind to. When I wrote about freelancing, it was really easy. Yet, when I wanted to express my feelings about racism, I discovered that my language wasn’t strong enough to express what I want to say in English. It would be great to enhance my level so I can express more thoughts. But for the time being, I decided to give 80% of my effort to what I am good at more. Doing so, I discovered that focusing on what you are good at makes acquiring a new habit more fun and easier to apply.
Having a clear daily checklist is so powerful. It motivates you to keep on track and also be motivated to do more. Also, it is part of turning your goal into a system. My checklist wasn’t just about writing, it included tasks that would upgrade my writing level as well. I had a daily topic that I would focus on reading 2 articles about and apply what I learned in my writings.
Sharpening the saw
You all know this argument about “Working hard vs. working smart”. I didn’t focus on working hard. As stated in the first point, 2 minutes were enough for some days. I wanted to work smartly instead. So, I spent most of my time learning about writing, rather than writing itself. I believe in hard work as well, but working hard after sharpening the saw is the smart way. Now I feel how I focused on sharpening the saw will help me to focus more on writing in the upcoming months.
My tips might sound to be a lot, but when getting them one by one into my habits, they get my life easier and they are no more hard to do.