FOUNDATIONS OF GOOD HABITS: START WHERE YOU ARE
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So today I’m going back to my work with Gretchen Rubin’s new book Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives.
I left off last time with reviewing the monitoring section of her book and I had indicated some habits I wanted to monitor. Everything changed when I read the next section of her book, First Things First, Foundations. She has 4 pillars of habits or strategies for mastering the habits of our everyday lives; monitoring, foundations, scheduling, and accountability. First, she discusses monitoring as a strategy and second the foundations. Because I was working through the book chapter by chapter I really wish the foundation section would have been discussed or placed as the first strategy to work on. In my mind if these foundations are the basis for all other habits then they should be discussed first. After I read this section I had to re-evaluate everything and the habits I truly want to work on and ditch what I had set up in my previous post.
She outlines 4 foundations habits that can impact your other habits. They are:
- Eat and Drink Right
There is so much to examine with each foundation that I have decided to break them up a little bit. Forget everything I had outlined that I was going to do with monitoring as what she says does make sense, at least to me. At the end of the section she talks about not wasting our valuable energy on changing small habits that do not make a huge impact to changing our overall good habits. Our energy in making changes is valuable and is not in unlimited supply as sometimes we don’t feel like we have a lot of it to go around. Focus on what matters to you the most. So, I am re-examining what matters to me.
Today I will start with the first two foundations, sleep and move.
FOUNDATION – SLEEP
This section I can reasonably say with confidence that I’m ok on. I know I’m a lark and the most important thing for me is a regular bedtime routine always around the same time. It pretty much never fails that around 11pm my eyes get droopy and I just can’t stay up any longer.
After my kids are tucked in, this is what I do:
- Shower – I know some people can’t stand it but it works for me. A nice hot shower with some lavender scented soap and then I get all cozy in my warm pjs and fuzzy socks. In the winter anyway. I will also apply one of my favourite products – lavender cream.
- Hot Lemon/Honey Water – this is my new addition to my nightly routine. I will get all cozy and finish my screen time with my drink. So sometimes I will watch my favourite show or quickly finish checking social channels for the night.
- Journaling/Gratitude Journal – I will head back up to my room and grab my journal and gratitude journal and write. I find this especially helps me if something was negative during my day as I then throw it on paper and it gets out of head. And finish up with writing in my gratitude journal.
- Reading – Now this depends how sleepy I am but usually I will squeeze 10/15 minutes just to finish my routine.
- Lights Out!
This has been my routine for as long as I can remember with a few tweaks here or there. I try very hard to stick to this routine, but it totally works for me.
Do you have a bedtime routine? Does it work for you?
As I said this is the only foundation that I have under control. Yeah! At least there is one.
FOUNDATION – MOVE
Oh, boy. I am taking a big deep breathe with this one. I really had to take a look at how I exercised throughout my life and what has worked and what hasn’t because well of course I would like to move more and be more active. I have never been an athletic type and have not undertook many exercise programs or really ever make exercise more a resolution. As a kid, I just played outside. My mom tried me in highland dancing when I was young but that didn’t go very well. I did stay in a figure skating program for a few years probably because I enjoyed it. As I got older, I played sports in school but I have always had an issue with running. When young running would usually result in asthmatic attacks. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that I would have benefitted from a program that slowly built up my endurance instead of just expecting me to do it like everyone else. My self-esteem in this area is/was always low. Eventually I tried playing softball and quite enjoyed it and it actually has some of my best memories, after softball I played slo-pitch, but somewhere it all ended. I haven’t played in over 15 years now. Career and marriage changed everything.
When it comes to exercising I realize that I do always prefer a group sport and I seem to maintain commitment longer if someone is with me. Both my husband and I need to move more and this foundation could definitely use an injection of motivation. My husband and I used to salsa dance but this was before we had our 3 children. He uses his busy work schedule as an excuse and I use finding a babysitter as an excuse. Boo! Time to Dance Again!
As you might discover if you are also reading this book, Gretchen Rubin in her scheduling section says ‘Just start where you are, but start’.
Really the only other moving I do regularly is walking my kids to school and pick up. On most days, I walk back and forth 6 times as my daughter is in kindergarten and she only goes in the mornings. One of my biggest question is how do I transform my family into an active family when I, myself, am not an overly active individual? It definitely gives me some guilt. My daughter, thankfully enjoys many activities. Dance, swimming, taekwondo, snowboarding etc.. but it seems to come naturally for her. As for my boys well they do not enjoy sports. Weird I know, my eldest finally agreed to try soccer this past summer and it went pretty well. During the school year the boys are in Taekwondo and swimming. A part of me believes they will discover what they enjoy the most and when they do, that is the activity we promote. Until then we just keep providing opportunities.
Back to my exercising and moving habits. When it comes to moving I’m not very intrinsically motivated so knowing this about myself I’m going to set up some new moving goals for myself.
MY MOVING GOALS
- Sign my husband and I up for salsa dancing lessons again. Find a class once a week. Find a babysitter. Just do it!
- Continue to walk my children to school everyday.
As you can see I’m not making any grand changes to my habits. I’m going to try working in small steps in this area. In her book, Gretchen discusses understanding whether we work well in small changes or big changes and I believe for myself in the area of moving more I work better in implementing small changes that will hopefully lead to big changes.
Okay, so there we go. My public goal has been set. Get my husband and I into a salsa dance class. I will update how I did. I’m not sure yet how accountability works for me. It would be great if someone who reads this asks me if I have done it yet. Let me know if you need a nudge as well. I’m all about encouraging, growing and positive changes. Guess that is why I’m reading this book.
Are you reading Gretchen Rubin’s book? Let me know in the comments. Did you know she also had a Day-by-Day Journal to track the habits you would like to change? It set up weekly with a question each week for you to journal some thoughts about. I’m getting one, but I love journals. I will leave a link to purchase the book and journal at the bottom in case you just can’t wait and want to start changing your habits right away.
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