My real (not “reel”) habit story for 2022
My daughters and I were struggling. Specifically with school attitudes. For three years, I tried all the bells and whistles to make homeschooling more fun, do the energetic “cool teacher” thing, or adapt the assignment.
I felt like I was running laps in a three-ring circus – with pom poms.
This story wouldn’t make the “highlight reel.” But I’m not here for the reel. I’m here for the real.
I hope that you can stand on my experience instead of walking through it.
So here’s my real: If I looked at your habits today, what would I conclude about your life?
Uncomfortable question? Yeah, for me too. Lean into it. This discomfort could save your life. It is, in fact, saving mine.
Until recently, I didn’t understand the life-or-death value of habits. They are easy to ignore, but are actually the building blocks of life.
For example, a habit of mindlessly scrolling social media, quite literally builds a life that mindlessly consumes media. Is that what I want?
When I’m old, I’m guessing that won’t make the grandkid story cut.
Let’s try it on for size: “Grandma, tell me a story of when you were young!”… “Well, for at least an hour every day, I’d scroll through my phone and look at what everyone else was doing with their lives. Then I’d subconsciously compare myself to them and feel terrible about my inadequacies,” said no grandparent ever.
Back to my circus… My “cool teacher” efforts were met with a big fat fail when my daughter informed me that school was boring. What a way to start the day! Love you too hun.
Are you kidding me?! If I’m anything, I will not be known as boring. Nor will the school that I teach.
In all my efforts, I didn’t realize I was making bad habits. That’s how sneaky habits are. You form them without even knowing it!!
My kids were creating the habit of consumerism (the “thrill me and I’ll pay attention’’ habit). Meanwhile, I was making habits of running around like a headless chicken trying to please unpleasable people.
And that, my friends, is a recipe for life disaster.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to accidentally fall into bad habits. Fortunately, better habits are *literally* a choice away.
In James Clear’s Atomic Habits book, he unpacks the power of choice by identifying the person you’d like to be – and then making the tiniest habits that support that identity.
For example, you can identify as “a person who works out every day” simply by putting your running shoes on. When you master the tiniest detail, your brain learns that you’re acting in alignment with your identity.
In my situation, I was identifying as the crazy lady. To fix this, I found a habit tracker and invited my kids to examine our “building blocks.”
We kept things crazy-doable (the magic potion for habits, according to James Clear). We tracked daily things like, “drink water,” “brush teeth after breakfast,” and say “yes, mom.”
Of course, incentives make anything more fun, so I put a “carrot” at the end of the chart. Rather than running around trying to perform a circus for them, we completely shifted the focus to tiny, daily habits that would build the life we want.
To say this was easy would be a lie.
To say this was brilliantly valuable and transformational would be the truth.
Unfortunately, no one ever said valuable things would be easy.
Ann Voskamp’s quote hit me between the eyes yesterday; “Life is Pain — and you get to choose: either the Pain of Discipline or the Pain of Disappointment.”
Do you need to read that again? I did! How is this “Wow” and “Ow” all in the same moment?!
The beauty is that we get to choose our pain!
Strategically working on habits with my kids is not easy. But purposeful life-building is easier than running around trying to tame the lions.
Someone once said, “Obsess about your inputs rather than your outcomes.”
Unfortunately, we often obsess about outcomes and forget about inputs. The only trouble is, the only way to change our outcomes is to change our inputs!
So, let’s take a look at those inputs this year.
Meet your farmer – Liz Gerdes. She & her husband are local dairy farmers and friends to anyone who needs one. She helps moms feel amazing about what they feed their families with farm fresh milk! Visit gerdesfreshfarm.com or follow her on Facebook @gerdesfreshfarm for more info.