2011: The Helpfulness of Habit
Here we are. The new year has begun and my heart wants to fly, to fly high and soar like an eagle.
I know of no other way to say it. I want to escape all the silly little things that hold me back and become on the outside who I am deep inside. I want to reach my full potential.
When I saw the Christmas ornament pictured above, it spoke to me and I knew it was the symbol for my 2011 resolution. It represents how I want to feel about myself and about my life.
So what’s the resolution, you ask? Let me explain.
My heart still lingers where it’s been for the past few months. My greatest desire for myself and my family is to have the arm of God revealed to us in our daily lives, to really see the evidence of his awareness of us, of his love for us, of his intervention in our behalf. In pondering this desire I’ve also tried to discover what prevents us from recognizing these blessings. What prevents myself and my family from flying as high as God is willing to take us? I have prayed and thought about this a great deal. I’ve also tried to observe our family to see where our biggest holes are.
My conclusion has been that it’s our habits. Now, we have a lot of great habits as a family, and I’ve got some good ones personally as well. But the things that weigh me down, that make me discouraged, are usually things that result from either a bad habit or a lack of a good habit.
You see, when life is busy or stressful (which is most of the time for most of us) we fall back on our habits, the way of living that we don’t have to think about or invest emotional energy in. Our habits are what get us through, for better or for worse. I have concluded that your habits will either make it harder for you to succeed, or they will be helpful to you in reaching the level of personal excellence you seek.
Therefore, I am going to spend 2011 in pursuit of helpful habits. Benjamin Franklin said, “Each year one vicious habit rooted out, in time might make the worst man good throughout.” While my list is long, I will count the year a success if I have replaced even one weak area with a good habit. I have chosen to define a helpful habit as a habit that does one or more of the following things:
1. The habit helps me to feel closer to my Heavenly Father.
2. The habit helps me become more like my Savior.
3. The habit removes unnecessary distractions or secondary causes from my life, allowing me to focus on the essential (but rarely urgent) aspects of personal and family life.
4. The habit helps me to be more useful in serving others and in caring for my family.
5. The habit directly improves our quality of life in a meaningful way.
Confucius said, “Men’s natures are alike; it is their habits that separate them.” My habits will determine how high I can fly.
Now, the more difficult part of the journey ahead of me is in being specific enough to really accomplish what I seek while also allowing for the distractions and detours that come with our family dynamics at this point in time. I’d love to just run ahead, but I still have a one, three, and four year old at home all day every day, and five older children who require incredible amounts of attention and focus in the after school hours. I’ve got to shoot high but allow for the fact that first and foremost I am a mother, here to meet the needs of the children God has blessed us with.
So here is my plan. I have made a list of specific habits I want to develop. I also have a separate list of some essential habits I feel my children need to develop. I have gone back and forth over HOW to work on these habits, debating between focusing on one until it’s mastered, then moving on to another OR continuing my One Step style and working on several at a time. After prayerful consideration, I’ve decided that the One Step style works best with my stage in life but I need to be more purposeful about it than I was in 2010. Last year taught me that I’m doing a lot of good things, but I’m also doing a lot of responding to life. Such is the way with babies, but I anticipate that as my little one grows I’ll be able to slowly but surely map out how more of my time is spent. I feel like I can work on more than one goal at a time and be successful in part because some of the goals are weekly things, items I can slip in once a week while I work on the daily habits. I don’t want to wait on the weekly habits until the daily things have been mastered when I already have a time slot figured out for the weekly habit.
As I did last year, I’ve purchased a journal. I ran out of pages in my One Step book so this one is nice and thick. In it I’ve outlined the habits I’d like to develop and written down how I plan to build them. I will report daily in my journal, and will also write weekly reports every Sunday as I did last year. I’m not sure what form the reports will take; I’ll let that come as I get going. I’ve loved the accountability that came with reporting to myself here on Hopeful Homemaker. It’s helped me stay motivated and I see no reason to quit.
So there’s the plan. I could go on for quite a while about the habits I want to work on, but I think I’ll start introducing them in my weekly reports. I feel grateful to the Lord for guiding me in these thoughts and plans as they seem to be such an appropriate development after my One Step 2010 journey. I’m excited and optimistic that I can be successful in these efforts as I rely on Him for guidance and help.
Helpful Habits. I’m ready to fly. It’s going to be a great year.