Intentional or Habitual?

Habits? I don’t have a habit…do I?

We all have habits that creep into our daily lives. I’m not talking about the habits like eating, smoking, etc… I’m talking about the daily habits that develop over time like:

  • What we do with the first minutes/hours of our day
  • What we do with the last minutes/hours of our day
  • What we do with those empty moments in our day/week
  • etc…

A daily habit may have begun on purpose a while back, but it’s no longer serving that original purpose. And yet, we still do it because… it’s a habit! It may not be harmful habit but is it a purposeful habit?

For years my ‘down time’ habit was the television. I had an extremely demanding career, was raising 4 active kids and keeping a home. I rarely had down time and when I did, all I’d want to do with that time was ‘chill’. TV time was brainless time; turn off my thoughts and be entertained.

Things are different now. Children are raised, career has changed, my daily routines and down times are different, and my need for ‘brainless entertainment’ is no longer there. But the habit is. 

It wasn’t until I decided that I wanted to be more purposeful about reading that I realized I was still defaulting to this habit. And just like a habit, I wasn’t able to ‘quit it’ until I was intentional.

At first I just tried to read after TV time (adding something to my nightly routine vs changing my habit) – but I found I fell asleep quickly and rarely read more than a few pages.

Realizing I needed to change my down time habit, I decided to read first and then watch a recorded show before bedtime. That was easier said than done.

Here’s a snapshot of my habit changing journey…

My ‘habit’ felt good… 

  • At first…
    • Home, feet up in comfy chair, hit search on DVR and start watching
    • 30 minutes in… “oh…I’m supposed to be reading. OK…I’ll turn this off as soon as it’s over”
    • Occasionally read, but only a few pages.
  • A week or so in…
    • Home, feet up in comfy chair, DVR in hand…
    • “oh…I’m supposed to be reading. Just one show and then I’ll read”
    • Read more often, but still not able to reach my monthly reading goals

Let’s see if a new ‘habit’ can feel good too… 

  • Time to be more intentional…
    • Put the ‘clicker’ into a box with a hinged lid and put the book I was currently reading on top of the box
    • Home, feet up in comfy chair, went for the ‘clicker’ and had to pick up book first
    • “OK…I’ll read but I REEEEALY want to see what happened on Grey’s Anatomy last night! I’ll read one chapter and then watch!”
    • More often than not, I enjoyed the book so much I forgot about the ‘craving’ for TV time
    • Began meeting my monthly reading goals
    • My desire to read more books grew

New ‘habit’ feels even better…

  • New habit…
    • Home, feet up in comfy chair, book in hand…
    • My list of ‘must watch’ recordings in the DVR is reduced and I have a new habit of binge watching those top faves at scheduled times on weekends
    • My monthly reading goals continue to increase!

The point…

Sometimes a small change in habits can bring a big change in results. 

Do Something On Pur•pose today...

  • How are you using your 24 hours in a day/7 days in a week to intentionally live on purpose?
  • What habits can you identify in your daily or weekly routine that no longer serve a purpose?
  • What’s a new habit you’d like to intentionally develop and replace an old habit?
  • What do you keep ‘wishing’ you had more time to do?
  • What habit can you change on purpose to open up the time you need to make those wishes come true?