Remember a few years ago when the western world was all abuzz with articles on how to increase your happiness? Before that it was all about how goal setting would improve your life. Well hold on, because habits are the new happiness in the self improvement world. Loads of books and magazine articles are dishing out advice on to how to break bad habits and what it takes to successfully adopt new ones. Gretchen Rubin, best selling author of The Happiness Project has a new book out (Better Than Before) that’s all about habit formation. And life coach Martha Beck has been writing about habits in Oprah magazine for years.

What the What?

Habits are routines or behaviour that’s repeated regularly and tends to occur unconsciously. Most of us would like to change a few of our habits, but it’s hard to break them and replace with better actions, because the behavioural patterns we repeat are imprinted in our neural pathways. The good news is that it’s possible to form new habits through repetition. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the habits I have: the good, the bad and the ones I’d like to adopt.

The Good

I’m in the habit of organizing everything from my schedule to the house. I cull closets on a regular basis and follow the golden rule of waitressing: never walk anywhere without something in your hand.

I exercise on a regular basis. Even if I slack off on vacation or over school holidays, this is one habit that’s easy for me to pick up again. Years of dance training as a child established this behaviour early, and I never need to be convinced how good it feels to move.

I’m now in the habit of waking up early, but who isn’t once you have kids? Well, my husband, I suppose. I can’t help my internal clock, but truthfully I don’t really mind, as I like having as much time as possible to get “stuff” done. Still, it sucks rolling into bed well after midnight, only to be wide awake at 7 a.m.

And I read a ton. Not quite a book a week, but several a month, plus a few magazines and online articles. I love learning new things and reading shuts off my distracted mind much like exercise does. I’ve gotta say, I’m proud I managed to ingrain this love of reading in my daughter.

Two coffees

The Bad

Now the habits I’m not so proud of. However much food is in front of me is what I’ll probably eat. I’m in the finish your plate club, which makes my weight fluctuate a fair bit. It’s kind of embarrassing to throw back more food than your husband.

I routinely take too much on and underestimate how long it will take to complete tasks. When you work as a freelance writer you can only say no to an editor who’s offered you a project once or twice. After that, they just move on. And in my personal life, I tend to say yes to everything and figure it’ll all work itself out. This is probably the number one area I need to work on.

Unsurprisingly, I have a habit of getting lost in social media. For work I need to Instagram my travels, Tweet out my articles and upload my blog posts to Facebook to market my product. But I don’t need to get sucked into why psycho from a previous life is having a hard day or 31 Ways to use ear wax.

Not in the Habit of…

I don’t know why, but I’m not in the habit of showering in the morning. I usually work out at lunch or have a long bath at night. Still, on the days I don’t get my workout done and I run into those women who look perfectly groomed, I wish I took the time to put myself together.

Continuing on the personal hygiene front, I’m not in the habit of flossing. I realize this is a deal, but it’s so annoying and kind of gross. Now I’m leaving myself reminder notes every few days to guilt myself into doing it.

What about you? What are some of your habits? Have you ever successfully adopted a new one?

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