April Jeppson: How to make your goals become habits

Published 8:45 pm Friday, July 21, 2023

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

We took a little trip out of town and did some sightseeing last weekend. We visited a park that we hadn’t been to in years and even with the smokey air, it was a beautiful day. As we were discussing where we should stop for lunch, it occurred to me that I needed ice cream. I remembered that I told the world I wanted to enjoy more ice cream this summer, so that was my prerequisite for our destination. It didn’t matter what else was offered on the menu, as long as they offered ice cream.

April Jeppson

Now I realize that this was a pretty small goal I had set for myself. I’m sure there are lots of people who eat ice cream all summer long and never even think about it.

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But for me, I had to make a conscious effort. It was because I wrote about it last week, that made me strong arm my family into choosing a specific dining spot. If I wouldn’t have been vocal about my wishes, I doubt that I would have enjoyed dessert that day.

Life is happening all around us. We have hundreds of little choices every day. It’s easy to fall into patterns, in fact it’s how we are wired. Having a routine requires less thought, and we essentially just go through the motions. You might be awake for an hour before you become aware of any choices you need to make. The thing is, you’ve already made a bunch of choices, you were just on autopilot.

How many times you hit the snooze button. If you put on your robe before heading to the bathroom. If you wash your face or not. What you make yourself for breakfast and if you grab a newspaper or your phone to catch up on what’s happening. Everyone has a similar morning routine, but we all do things a bit differently.

Say you want to start reading more. Your goal is to get at least 10 minutes of reading in a day. I’ve had goals like this my entire life. I tell myself that I’ll carve out some time in the afternoon to shut out the world and read. The problem is that my afternoons are full of all sorts of different activities. I might be able to find a day or two during the week where it works, but in reality, a day or two doesn’t create a habit.

In order to make this really work, I’m going to want to attach it to one of my autopilot activities. So instead of grabbing my phone at breakfast, instead I reach for a book that I keep in the kitchen. I’m going to sit down every morning for 20 minutes anyway, so this becomes a habit that can stick.

I don’t need daily ice cream to become part of my life, so I’m not concerned about making it stick. However, there are other areas that I need to examine and make small adjustments to. I’ll be honest though, I won’t be spending the next seven days reflecting on any of this. To aid in making my life a bit easier (and more enjoyable) I’m just going to continue on with last week’s goal.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams. Her column appears every Saturday.