Like most people, making and breaking habits has always been a challenge for me. I have a tendency to over-invest by attempting to completely overhaul my life, taking everything on at once. I convince myself that I can change my life in the short span of a week as long as I commit to myself. Inevitably, I become discouraged because I cannot keep up with the near impossible benchmarks that I have laid out for myself.
I am learning that commitment is just as much about consistency as it is about discipline.
Using the free Habit Tracker PDF has been my saving grace to stay on track despite the setbacks. I shared in a recent Passion Planner video that I have weeks where I am killing the game, and others where I struggle to keep up with the basics, resulting in a nearly blank Habit Tracker. Becoming familiar with failure and inviting it into my day-to-day continues to be a critical part of my personal growth, especially as it relates to building habits.
In this post, I share with you five habits that have drastically improved my life. Because I want to emphasize that I myself am still growing, I share three with which I have been consistent and two that I am still cultivating.
1. Passion Plan daily.
Passion Planning grounds me. While I can’t control every aspect of my life, it gives me solace to know what to expect in the coming weeks. Because my mind can be chaotic, balancing things to do, goals I achieve, and people to see, the Passion Planner gives me space to make sense of the mess. Returning to my yearly goals offers me clarity in what is meaningful to me, and I can reroute if I get off track. If Passion Planning is not in your daily schedule quite yet, no worries! Start slow by Passion Planning once or twice a week, and begin with 1-3 habits to cultivate in your Habit Tracker.
2. Drink 8 glasses of water each day.
I use the free Water Tracker download to ensure that I am getting my 8 glasses of water a day. When I first began my health journey about 7 years ago, I began with building this habit. There are many health benefits to drinking water consistently, including increased energy levels and flushing out of toxins. Combined with portion control and a consistent workout routine, I experienced a boost in my mood and stamina.
Drinking water regularly helped me monitor the amount I was eating during each meal, attuning me to what was just enough food, versus too much or too little. Although there were significant physical changes (I lost about 25 pounds), the internal changes were far more rewarding. I recognized that health is more about how I feel physically and mentally than it is an appearance.
3. Practice yoga.
I realize that yoga has become a fad and can become saturated advice relating to improving your life. That said, yoga really did change my life.
Mending from a heartbreak a month before the comprehensive exam for my Master's program, I was feeling defeated and weak. My friend invited me to a yoga class, promising me that I would feel better afterwards. Long story short, she turned out to be right, and I have been attending the same studio ever since.
Yoga makes me feel strong and connects me to people who are also journeying through growth and depth in their practice. It doesn’t necessarily have to be yoga for you. It can be Jiu-Jitsu, running, or joining a volleyball league. Whatever it is, I encourage you to find a way to move that connects you to your body and your community.
Fact: I hate meditating. I can’t sit still for longer than a minute, so the prospect of meditation is just... ugh. That said, I forced myself to explore meditation again after a recent session with my therapist on Talkspace. Following a bout of severe anxiety, she recommended that I revisit meditation and work towards actively practicing self-compassion.
While we have discussed the benefits of meditation in a previous blog about self-love, I did not realize the immense difficulty of just sitting with yourself. What I do know is that as I begin to watch my thoughts without judgment, I am beginning to stop identifying myself with them. The work is slow and steady, but personally, I could benefit from slow and steady.
5. Cultivate a hobby.
This is what Passion Planner is all about: bringing your passions into your everyday. When I was younger, I loved to write. I wrote poems that I’d give to loved ones as gifts, and created short stories about fictional universes and falling in love. These days, writing can feel like a chore. That said, I am no less passionate about it than when I was a child.
It is completely natural and acceptable to not always be delighted by your hobbies.
I am working on giving myself permission to experience a range of emotions around my passions: frustration, joy, disappointment even. Last month, we featured an Instagram post from #PashFam member Conner using the Seinfeld method, a visual way to keep you motivated to develop a skill. Whatever pastime you enjoy, do it in small manageable pieces every day.
Taking steps to drastically improve your life is a slow, imperfect process. Celebrate the small wins and remember this Passion Planner proverb: it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to start.
Paula Votendahl is a Content Marketing Specialist with Passion Planner. In her free time she enjoys eating Hot Cheetos and watching British period dramas.