Habit Forming

With thoughts of New Year fast approaching and no doubt many Resolutions to be made and quickly broken, I came across this simple little list courtesy of Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen is a world famous author with a speciality in habits and happiness.

gretchen
Gretchen Rubin

Our resolutions are all about forming new habits, and this list made a lot of senses to me. I hope it helps you in some small way to keep the promises you make yourself this January 1st.

The Habits Manifesto

 What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while.

  1. Make it easy to do right and hard to go wrong.
  2. Focus on actions, not outcomes.
  3. By giving something up, we may gain.
  4. Things often get harder before they get easier.
  5. When we give more to ourselves, we can ask more from ourselves.
  6. We’re not very different from other people, but those differences are very important
  7. It’s easier to change our surroundings than ourselves.
  8. We can’t make people change, but when we change, others may change.
  9. We should make sure the things we do to feel better don’t make us feel worse.
  10. We manage what we monitor.
  11. Once you are ready to begin, begin now.

As I think on this list and my desires to be a serious writer (or more accurately, a writer taken seriously), I can see how these pointers might help me. Here’s my interpretation of Gretchen’s manifesto for my own situation:

  1. Make it easy to do right and hard to go wrong
    Give myself time and space each day to write, in a location that requires no set-up
  2. Focus on actions, not outcomes
    Write. Nothing more. Write without the target of a posting or a quantity or a purpose If it’s a poem today, great. A short story, or a snatch of a longer one. Just write.
  3. By giving something up, we may gain
    Stop striving for readers and followers. If it’s good enough, they will come,.Write for me.
  4. Things often get harder before they get easier
    Set a plan for 30 days and stick to it, come Hell or high water. I posted every day in April 2014 when I signed up for Post-a Day
  5. When we give more to ourselves, we can ask more from ourselves
    For me this is about personal permission to step away and write. And maybe a nice new Surface tablet ….
  6. We’re not very different from other people, but those differences are very important
    Stop comparing my writing to others. There will always be those better than I am, but there are certainly a great many who are worse. Be me, write for me and the rest will follow.
  7. It’s easier to change our surroundings than ourselves
    Find my own space to set up and write (see 1 and a bit of 5 here)
  8. We can’t make people change, but when we change, others may change
    I think maybe the actions in 3 fit here, and definitely 6. I need to find my own voice and go from there.
  9. We should make sure the things we do to feel better don’t make us feel worse
    Definitely! This one is about not beating myself up if I miss a deadline, or if a posting gets zero comments or likes. F**k the stats!
  10. We manage what we monitor
    So monitor actions, not outcomes. Monitor how often I hit my goals, not what I produce.
  11. Once you are ready to begin, begin now
    And don;t wait until January 1st! So I won’t. The new plan starts today! Look out World!

Gretchen’s latest book is:

Better Than Before – Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives

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