Just Make It a Habit

Way back in 2008, one of my New Year’s resolutions was to wake up at 5 am every day and go to the gym. I was getting married in August, and looking great in my wedding dress was excellent motivation. So on January 2nd I dragged my tired behind to the gym. And it was hard. January 3rd was hard too, and the same held true a week later. But eventually, it got easier.

Four years later, I’m still getting up at 5 am and going to the gym. With a smile on my face and a spring in my step. How? Because I made it a habit.

People ask me all the time how I do it, and the answer is always the same. In fact, I give that same answer when they ask me how I was able to write a blog post every day for a year or if it’s difficult writing and recording a new Listen & Learn song every week.

The thing about long-term goals and big commitments is that they are always overwhelming at first — because we focus on the “long-term” and “big” parts. But if you break it down and just start taking action, it becomes manageable.  Think about how many times you’ve heard the phrase take it one day/step at a time…it works.

Something that has always helped me create habits (and I’m talking about the positive, productive kind) is to set a designated time devoted just to that one activity. I’ve already given the example of going to the gym at 5 am. Others include writing and recording my songs on Saturday mornings, completing and emailing my lesson/session notes immediately after my last student leaves every evening, and doing my weekly accounting every Friday.

As I write this blog post, I’m wondering to myself if doling out such basic advice is a waste of my time and energy. Maybe it is, but I want to make it clear that the power of habit is really, really strong. Just keep doing something, day after day, no matter how difficult it feels; one day you’ll realize that you can’t NOT do it. And if you need extra incentive, make your intention known. Whether you tell your mom, book club, or entire Facebook friend list, putting it out there will help you to hold yourself accountable.

So what habits are you working on creating?