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Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Morning Check In: What is a Habit Anyway?

I was talking to one of my younger students about the importance of choosing good habits, and it occurred to me that I ought to check whether my student even understood what a habit was. After all, words that I use at my age do not always hold the same meaning to a seven year old. My student replied, "A habit is something that you've done so many times that you don't have to think about it."

That pretty much sums it up, doesn't it? As a teacher my concern is always, first and foremost, what habits my students choose to form or rely on -- good or bad? As always, whenever I think about what I require of my students, I also take the time to reflect back at myself. The question then becomes: what habits do I choose for myself -- good or bad?

I've been reading through an interesting book called The Habit Factor by Martin Grunburg. I'll let you know more about it when I finish it. For now, let me say that I enjoy the discussion about habits, what habits we choose  and why, and the importance of choosing wisely. I have even installed the iPhone app of the same name.

I find it helpful to determine activities that I would like to adopt, that when I performed regularly would become the sort of habits to put me further down the road toward achieving my goals. I find it to be an interesting intellectual exercise to determine what potential "habits" might be related to achieving particular goals. For example, if I am trying to lose weight (who isn't, right?), I might want to establish the habit of exercise. In my case, I have decided to work on establishing a habit of running 3 times a week. The iPhone app helps me to track whether I am performing this activity often enough to build a "habit" over time.

What are some goals you have that would benefit from your setting up a small list of "habits" to cultivate? Think about the areas of goals we usually visit: health, finances, career, family, and spiritual. This week, why not take a few moments to consider what your goals are in some of these particular areas. Then reflect on whether there are any particular actions you can take on a regular basis -- build a "habit" in other words -- that would bring you closer to achieving your goals.

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