High five

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
In the next instalment of the personal development series, life coach Jan Aitken looks at daily habits.

Jan Aitken
Jan Aitken

By now I hope that you're getting into the rhythm of taking some time out to think about, and incorporate, the things we've covered so far in our personal foundation series.

If not, don't worry, there's no time like the present to start. Building a good solid base on which to build your life will pay dividends ... for the rest of your life! Not a bad return on investment.

This week we're looking at incorporating some ''daily habits'' into our lives. I really like daily habits, they give me things to look forward to and a shot of energy. That's exactly what they are designed to do, so let me explain.

Daily habits form a routine that will help refuel you, keep you focused, clear, motivated and moving forward. These are things you do each day which support the positive changes you're making with your personal foundation revamp. They are straightforward, uncomplicated and take very little time to do, and best of all they are enjoyable!

They may be small, but these simple ''daily habits'' can dramatically improve your life. In short, daily habits are designed to be things that help you to look after yourself. They are things that enhance your self-care. If we don't look after ourselves then we risk not being looked after at all.

Self-care is never a selfish act - it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have. - Parker J. Palmer

So what sort of things am I actually talking about? Here are some ideas to get you thinking, and the long weekend might be a great time to start!

  • Thank one person a day
  • No television after 7pm
  • Read something you really want to read
  • Spend an hour with your children
  • Offer to help someone
  • Go the extra mile for a client or customer
  • Drink one decaf instead of caffeine
  • Drink more water
  • Be in bed by 10pm every night
  • Walk 20-30 minutes each morning
  • Say ''No'' most of the day
  • Make your bed each morning
  • Do the dishes before you leave the house
  • Go with your intuition at least once each day
  • Sit quietly, without screens, radios or TV for 15 minutes
  • Write in your journal
  • Spend 30mins on your favourite project or hobby
  • Get a project or hobby up and running!
  • Eat five portions a day of veges and fruit
  • Stop smoking
  • Get to the pool to swim/aqua jog

Now, there are plenty of ideas there to get your neurons fired up and thinking about what you could do.

Here are my top tips for incorporating five, yes I did write five, daily habits into your routine:

Choose habits you want to

There is no place for ''shoulds'' or ''coulds'' in your five daily habits. Instead, select or design daily habits that you look forward to and give you pleasure. I can't emphasise this enough this is not an exercise to beat yourself up with, instead, it's a routine to give you energy and enhance your self-care!

They are most likely five daily habits that you normally would forget to do much of the time without this type of focus.

Choose habits that give you energy

Most of the five daily habits that actually work for people are the ones that add to the person's well-being or energy flow. It might mean that you do something like eat five vegetables each day, or that you stop something such as watching television or eating after 7pm. I've found that a 2:1 ratio of doing habits vs stopping habits works pretty well.

Modify your five daily habits, as needed

It can take some fine-tuning to settle on the five habits that work best for you. If you find yourself not doing one or two of your habits, have a think about why. Are they too complex, time consuming, not rewarding enough? Change or replace them with ones that that are.

Have fun!

Remember these are to enhance your life, not turn it into a misery. So, ask yourself: what are the habits that would enrich my experience of life, every day? What habits do I tend to continually intend to get around to, but never quite do?

Remember, the benefits are:

  • You have a healthy routine
  • You have a focus
  • You have more energy
  • You are more likely to maintain balance
  • You feel good

Use visual help

If you are inspired or motivated by reminders, set up a display to track your habits each day or a phone reminder to do them.

-Jan Aitken is a Dunedin-based life coach.

For more go to www.fitforlifecoaches.co.nz.

Twitter:@jan-aitken

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