Small Stones

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”
-Confucius
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    This time of year inspires varied reactions. Some people feel inspired to, once again, take a shot at changing their life. Others may feel that it is a hopeless pursuit. Still others could care less about resolving something new. This may stem from the fact that many people think they need to do something grandiose or radical.
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    Personally, I never give up the opportunity to write a new goal – especially during a time of new beginnings. New seasons, new years, birthdays are all ideal times to recreate ourselves. Having new projects or habits keeps us excited about life! It keeps us in wonder mode. It’s fascinating to think, what would happen if I actually stuck to something new? How would my life be different?
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    Almost two years ago I was fed up! I had been struggling to do my dishes. I was in the habit of leaving my dishes on the counter for days until I had no dishes left. I was miserable and my house looked like a pothole. I had finally had enough and decided that I was NOT going to have this problem the rest of my life! So I decided to create a note page on my computer to begin tracking my daily dish routine. A month later, my mom decided to do the same. My first goal was to hit 67 days – no misses! – because I had read that it actually takes 67 days to create a new habit. The day I started was exactly 679 days ago and I haven’t missed a single day. Every dish is washed before I hit the sack. I don’t ever give myself the luxury of a day off. (Habits are powerful, but fragile.) Such a simple change has dramatically changed my life. On the nights when doing the dishes feels impossible, it’s become a joke between my mom and I to say, “its ok, we’re building character.”
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    One lesson I’ve learned from experimenting with habits (and reading lots of books) is to make habit goals – not ending goals. For example, instead of making a goal to lose 20 pounds this year, make a habit of exercising for 10 minutes every morning. Unfortunately, you are not in control of whether your body will let go of the fat or not. What you are in control of is your choices. Choosing to create a new habit that works toward your goal, makes you less likely to give up when you don’ t reach a certain milestone because you have instead made your focus to build a healthy habit.
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    A few keys I’ve found to changing a habit is to keep it simple, make it specifictrack it, and only work on ONE new habit at a time. It is honestly not crazy to work on just one new habit for 6 months or an entire year. Also, pick habits that are worth doing for the rest of your life. Don’t waste your time on temporary habits – make it for life!
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    My personal New Years resolution is to get up at 6:00 every day, which is just 30 minutes earlier than normal, to write about things I care about. At this time, my writing will be for Honey&Loam where I’ll be tracking my journey to simpler and more sustainable living; but at some point, it may be for a book or just for personal reflection. No pressure, everything I write doesn’t have to be life changing. Just write. I would encourage you to create a New Year’s resolution. What better time to make a change?
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What would your life look like in a year if you stuck to it? How might your life be different when you are 80 if you stuck to it?
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