Changing One Habit At A Time

A while ago, I wrote about my goal to change “one thing” each month, focusing on one habit for 30 days.  In the past, I usually have made a list of ten or twelve habits that I want to change, and then try to change everything at once.  I always start with a burst of energy and enthusiasm, but end up fizzling out as keeping up with everything becomes overwhelming.
I began with a great change.  I decided that I would walk/run for 10 minutes on the treadmill every morning.  I did well with this until the sad day (you may remember) when our basement flooded and my treadmill broke.  The episode left me deflated and I put off trying the “one thing” method for a couple of months.
The simple idea of changing “one thing” kept nagging at me, so I decided to try again.  In April, my “one thing” was taking the bus to work.  Other than a couple of rainy days when I relapsed into asking my husband for a ride, I did well with this.  I remembered how much I love riding the bus.  And how invigorating the walk is from the bus stop to my work.  It’s .7miles (I looked it up on Google maps).  I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy my morning bus ride and walk.  I meet (watch) interesting people.  I prepare myself for the day ahead.  I get in a little exercise.  All for the low cost of $1.  It takes a little longer to get to work than a car ride, but I really look forward to my daily trip.
The month of April flew by, and I knew that I had to choose another “one thing” to try, in addition to keeping my habit of riding the bus.  I decided that, for May, I would switch from coffee to tea in the morning.  I thought of this for several reasons.  I found that I was dumping a lot of creamer and sugar into my huge cup of coffee each morning.  I was jittery from the caffeine in that huge cup of coffee.  I did not want to go “cold turkey” in cutting out coffee.  I have done that before and my headaches were unbelievable.  So, I switched to a lovely green tea with coconut that my daughter had given me.  Each morning, I get a big cup of hot water (free) and add a fragrant tea bag to it.  I have come to enjoy my cup of tea as much as I enjoy my morning commute.  I finished the green tea and switched to a rose tea that had been sitting in my cupboard since an anniversary trip.  Changing from coffee to tea has allowed me to cut down on caffeine (and sugar and cream) while adding a nice morning ritual.
June arrived and I was ready to add a third “one thing” to my repertoire.  My other two habits were firmly ingrained in me and I was actually excited to try something new.  I decided to start taking my lunch to work.  We have a fine café at work and lunch is not very expensive, but I thought that I could eat a more healthy lunch if I planned ahead and carried my lunch with me to work.  I read once that people lose weight if they eat the same thing every day.  So, I decided that my lunch would be a container of yogurt, a granola bar, a piece of fruit, and a big glass of water.  If I carried these to work with me, I would never be tempted by the grilled cheese or fries in the café.  Each morning, I choose my flavor of yogurt and my type of fruit and toss them into my purse with a granola bar.  I quickly discovered Chobani greek yogurt.  Mmmmm.  Thick, smooth and satisfying, it fills me up and makes me feel good about my lunch choices.  The decision to carry my lunch does require me to plan ahead and buy lots of yogurt, since my Chobani tends to disappear out of the refrigerator at home.  An added bonus, we always have this healthy snack on hand for anyone who is hungry.
By the end of June, I was ready to add a fourth “one thing.”  After eating my packed lunch one day, I felt like taking a walk.  I walked around the block and decided that walking at lunch time would be my “one thing” for July.  I could not even wait until July, and started walking the last week in June.  I was away for the first week of July, but I re-started my routine as soon as I returned.  Now, my lunchtime walk is becoming part of my daily routine.  I am exploring the vibrant neighborhood where the agency I work for is located.
Does it sound like trying “one thing” at a time has been a success for me?  I would say that it has.  I think the secret is choosing manageable goals that make sense to me.  I also let myself off the hook if I miss a day.  I have not been perfect with any of my habits, but I have been much better than I expected at the beginning.  I am very excited to think about the habits I will add in the upcoming months – “one thing” at a time.

5 thoughts on “Changing One Habit At A Time

  1. I think this is a great idea. I have been trying to do too much at once and when I crash I get depressed. Was searching the net and found this. TY

  2. Good advice! So often I’m hard on myself when I fail at changing (losing weight for example). Perhaps if I take a few smaller steps I’ll be more succesful. Keep up the good work!!

  3. Thank you for your inspiration..I am going to give this a try 🙂 And the part that it is OK if it doesnt work out every single day day here and there, makes starting this a little easier for me:)

  4. Love this Belinda. Change takes work and energy and positive thinking. You’ve found a great way to manage new or different habits. I particularly like the fact that you let yourself off the hook if something doesn’t work out for a day. Thanks for sharing such a positive message

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