When I have formed a habit, it’s usually because I have taken the time to write something down on my calendar and keep doing so until I don’t think about it anymore. I just do it. If I think I might forget to do something, I’ll set a reminder on my cell phone like an alarm or I’ll send myself an email. I also write myself notes EVERYWHERE. Some things never really do become habits. I have to constantly remind myself to do them (like dusting the furniture or filing paperwork).
And then some things easily become habits and they are good habits to have, such as: going to church, reading my Bible, praying, cooking for my family, paying the bills, writing (I never have to remind myself to do this). I do have to remind myself constantly, however, to take my vitamins but I know they are good for me and that it is a habit I should form.
It seems like the habits that we need to make are hard to remember and the ones that we shouldn’t be doing – the things that are bad habits and should not be a part of our everyday lives – do not take an ounce of effort. They just slip right into our schedules without a thought. There are many of these. Laziness. Grouchiness. Watching too much television. Staying on the computer/online too much. And there are many other things in life that become habitual that we need to kick out. For me, as a little girl, it was sucking my thumb. Boy, it took forever to stop doing that!
First of all, you need to define exactly what habit you want to make and what habit you want to break. After all, if you don’t know what you’re going after, how can you accomplish it?
For both the things that we want to become habits and for the habits that we need to break, we have to start small. We cannot expect ourselves to master something on the first try. For many homeschool moms, just staying focused from one day to the next is a hard habit to form. Your mind wanders and you want to play instead of teach. So you have to start small. Kick the school year off and once you’ve successfully carried out your first day, pat yourself on the back and maybe have a treat to celebrate your accomplishment. Then focus on preparing for day two. When day two is done, pat yourself again and maybe treat yourself again. Patting and treating can become habits which are an outpouring of your successful habit-building in regards to school or other things.
Don’t forget! Breaking some habits will help you accomplish others. Like if you can’t sleep because you drink too much coffee or stay on the computer too late (that’s me!) then cut back gradually on those habits. You will find that you have more energy and more time to do some of the other things that need to be habits in your schedule.
Have you ever had to work on an assembly line? Or perform any tasks with a group of volunteers where you were a part of the production? Like making sack lunches for a homeless ministry? You start out and it feels a little awkward but once each person figures out exactly what his/her job is, things start to work like a well-oiled machine. You almost mindlessly do your task without even thinking about it. Moms do that with cooking or loading/unloading the dishwasher, washing clothes, etc. That’s how you have to approach forming a habit. Just get in there and do it until it’s so much a part of you that you don’t even think about it.
They say it takes anywhere from 18 days to 66 days to form a habit. I think bad habits are formed way faster than that and good ones might take even longer. The point is: just put your mind to it. You can do it.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Sherri Johnson is a homeschool mom (14 years) who is a published author and speaker and who loves to share God with others and to make people laugh. She enjoys speaking to homeschool groups about organization, record keeping, homeschooling high school, keeping kids pure, and more. She has been married for 22 years and has a 20 year old daughter and a 16 year old son. She is a writer who writes homeschool resources and Bible Studies but loves writing Christian Romance more than anything. She has a contract on her first novel, which will be out soon. www.sherrijohnsonministries.com