Make a Habit and a Habit Will Make You

What I do every day matters more than what I do once in a while. – Gretchen Rubin

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle

I was tired of being frustrated at the end of the day. I am one of those goal driven people who enjoy having a sense of accomplishment when the day is done. Too often, my day has been spent on trivial things. In a book of days, it goes up in the “wasted day” column. I don’t like feeling that I neglected the gift that was this day.

Things out of my control like interruptions, unexpected and unforeseen events put me further astray during the day.

Something had to change.

Help came in the form of a podcast by author and speaker, Todd Henry. (Todd has written two excellent books, The Accidental Creative, and Die Empty.) In “The Dailies”  episode, he talks about the importance of a set of practices we can do on a daily basis that propel us forward toward our goals. (The podcast is found here.) Each person’s dailies are unique to that person.

I began intentionally managing my time and set up my own daily routines that help me stay on track. I began to focus on what I could control. I wanted to build my inner resources, so that when my day started to get away from me, I had a well to draw from to complete the day with excellence.

Here are the dailies I came up with:

  • Bible reading – I use the free YouVersion app (https://www.youversion.com/) that allows me to select a plan or read on my own. This connects me to a higher purpose that is bigger than my agenda.
  • Exercise – treadmill, bicycle, or walk for at least 20 minutes. This helps me feel better physically throughout the day.
  • Write in a gratitude journal – I write three things I am grateful for that day. This helps remind me of what I already have.
  • 45-60 minutes reading good books – I am a voracious reader, so this one is easy to me. I try to read widely: biography, fiction, business, self-improvement, writing, leadership and current events.
  • Writing – I need the daily discipline of “morning pages” as Julia Cameron teaches so that I can get better in my writing.

I began these dailies on January 1, 2015. Six weeks in, I have enjoyed less frustration and more of a feeling of being on track in the pursuit of my goals.

Two key resources have helped me with executing my dailies. The first is Charles Duhigg’s great book, The Power of Habit. This book helped me set up the triggers and rewards I use to be consistent. Duhigg talks about the importance of willpower and how it becomes a habit by choosing a certain behavior ahead of time and then following that routine when the pressure is on.

The other key resource has been my Passion Planner (www.passionplanner.com). The planner, developed by Angelia Trinidad, is “an all-in-one weekly appointment calendar, journal, goal setting guide, to-do list, and gratitude log integrated in one planner.” As I think about each coming day, week, and month I write down my dailies in my schedule before anything else. They become the rocks around which the water of the rest of my week must flow.

Since I’ve been practicing these new habits, I have felt less frustration and more peaceful about my life’s purpose. I have found inner strength to roll with the punches that come my way during the day. And on occasion, when the situation calls for it, I am ready and able to punch back.

What are your dailies and how have they helped you?

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