Developing New Habits

habit

In my newsletter this month I shared an article about developing new habits.  I’ve found that the busier we get, the more we need to develop habits.  When something is a habit, we don’t have to think about doing it — we just do it!  The only reason why I exercise these days is because I made it a habit years ago.  Otherwise, once I had kids, that would have gone out the door faster then day care tuition.

For those of you trying to find the time to do crafts, I suggest you make it a habit.  You’ll find that if you have a regular time and day (even if it’s only once a month), you’ll have an easier time fitting crafting into your schedule.

In my personal experience, I find it takes months or years to develop a habit (or “undo” a bad habit).  I’ve read research that it takes only 21 days to form a habit. That has not been true for me.  Ever.  My newest habit that I’ve been working on is going to bed 1/2 hour earlier.  After over 20 years of going to bed at 10:30 on a school/work night, it’s taking me a long time to change that habit. I’m following my own advice and taking baby steps, backing up my bedtime by only 15 minutes.  Once I’m able to do that regularly, I’ll go for the full thirty.

Here’s my article.  I wish you much success with all the new habits you are working on!

How to Develop New Habits

The question I get asked the most often is “how do you find the time to do your artwork?” Like everyone else, I am busy. I work full time (including a long commute), have a lovely husband and 2 active little girls, volunteer in the community, exercise, run a part-time business, and sometimes I like to sleep. Everyone reading this is just as busy, but in his or her own way.

Below are tips on how I find the time to develop the habits that are important to me. You can use these tips for anything, but I will relate them to creative pursuits.

  1. Decide what goal you want to work on. The first step in developing a new habit is to pick the habit. This sounds basic, but until you tell yourself that you want to work on developing your paper crafting skills, you won’t think of doing it during your normal day. I always recommend choosing one new habit at a time. For example, if you recently set a goal to start exercising, you will be overwhelmed if you create a second goal to be more organized.
  2. Create an easy goal. Next, create the easiest goal you can think of. For example, when I first started exercising, my goal was to exercise once a week. It was so easy; I was able to do it consistently for months. Once I felt the habit was ingrained, I started exercising 2 days a week. It’s been about 15 years since I first started exercising and I still regularly exercise about 4 times a week. I made it gradual. I don’t beat myself up if I miss a week. I just get right back to it when I can.Set a goal that is easy for YOU to achieve.   An example could be to make one small project every 2 weeks or even one every month. Don’t be a perfectionist about the project. Focus more on enjoying the process.
  1. Decide when you will work on your goal. The reason why most people have trouble sticking to a habit is because they don’t have a defined time to work on their new goal. Set a tentative day and time for working on your habit and you’ll be more likely to achieve your goal. For example, if you decide that you will work on your paper crafting on Saturday evenings at 8pm, you’re much more likely to stick to your habit.
  2. Celebrate your successes and forget your failures. When you are creating a new habit, invariably there will be weeks where you don’t achieve your goal. Life happens and it is completely normal. Focusing on these missed weeks can quickly send you into a downward spiral and cause you to give up your goal entirely. Instead, get back on track when you can. In a few months, you’ll realize that you’ve developed a new habit. You’ll know it’s ingrained when it feels like something is off when you aren’t able to do your new habit.

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