nurturing habits

Marian Parsonsa slice of life54 Comments

In our new church, we are a part of a small group.  At first glance, it seems like a mismatched group of people.  A young couple without kids, a couple with teenagers and one child who just got married, a couple of empty-nesters with five adult kids, and us.  We’re at different stages of life and come from different backgrounds, but it has been such a rich time each week and I am learning a lot from each of the couples.

One of the things that stood out to me was when one of the empty-nesters shared that he encourages his kids to always nurture a habit.  When he connects with them, he asks, “How’s your habit?”

Immediately, that stuck out to me.  As someone who loves being productive, I like the idea of nurturing a habit (or perhaps a few at a time) that will help me reach larger goals.  I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes goals can seem daunting.  Nurturing a habit, while not always easy, is simple and can be effective.

It’s encouraging as I see how it plays out – a goal vs. a habit…

MISS MUSTARD SEED TV

Goal: I want to lose 30 lbs

Habit: I will exercise for at least 30 minutes, five times a week.

The habit means I can feel good about myself because of my behavior, my daily choices, not just the outcome (which isn’t always in my control).

I’ve set out so many weight-loss and fitness goals over the years and I don’t know if I’ve ever reached one of them.  I’ve really thought about it and I can’t think of one!  But, there are times when I’ve been in great shape, I lost a lot of weight, I felt good about myself, I loved shopping for clothes, etc….but I didn’t reach my goal.  Is that failure, then?  Absolutely not.  I look back on some habits I nurtured, like P90x and whole30 and eating vegetarian, and I am proud of how I stuck to them and what I accomplished, even if I didn’t reduce my frame to a magical number I selected.

Now, I don’t think goals are worthless.  I think goals and dreams and plans are great.  But, I don’t think they are always an accurate measuring stick for success.  Quite honestly, they can become a large stick that’s used to pummel yourself.

So, I am not setting goals or making resolutions this year.  I am going to pick habits to nurture.  And, the cool thing about habits is they almost become self-sufficient once they are established, because they are, after all, a habit.  I say almost, because a good habit can lapse if it’s neglected entirely.

Another cool thing about habits is they will move you towards a goal whether you want them to or not.  Good or bad.  If you have a habit of biting your nails, you’re moving towards a goal of having really short fingernails and having to check the box indicating you’re a nail-biter at the dentist’s office.  If you have a habit of stretching every morning, you’re going to stay (or become more) flexible and limber.

Here are the habits I’m going to start nurturing this year…

ONE

Habit – Making my bed everyday.  It may be surprising to some of you, but I am kind of lazy about making my bed.  I used to do it everyday, but I got out of the habit!  A new bed and new bedding in a new bedroom is a good time to make that a habit again and I’ve been doing it everyday for the past couple of weeks.

End Goal – The greater end goal is to keep short accounts with housekeeping.  This is a big house and if I can make certain tasks a habit, it’ll make cleaning an overall easier job.  I also feel happier and more relaxed in a clean house.

TWO

Habit – Exercising for at least 30 minutes, everyday that I can, allowing one day for rest.  There have been times in my life when I exercised for 3+ hours every day and times when I haven’t exercised at all.  I’m walking sporadically and doing physical therapy for my shoulder and that’s it.  It’s time to step it up and make it a healthy habit.

End Goal – Lose weight, develop muscle tone, having fun shopping for and wearing clothes.

THREE

Habit – Spending time with my art supplies in the studio at least five days/week.    I’m pretty close to doing this, but it’s been a little harder around the holidays.  Even on the days when I feel like I don’t have enough time to complete a painting or I’m not feeling particularly creative, I can work on color charts, value sketches, art journaling or even just organizing my supplies and refining my workspace.

End Goal – To grow my technical skills and intuition as an artist.

FOUR

Habit – Take one pretty picture a day.  (Most days.)  I was looking back through my Instagram feed and I realize I used to be much more intentional about styling and taking beautiful pictures.  I used my tripod, I tethered, I carefully set up lighting, etc.  Since we moved, I have been “shooting from the hip” more.

End Goal – I really love photography, so this one is mostly for the enjoyment of it, but also to have pretty pictures to share on my blog, social media, and for my brand.  It’s a win-win.

I have a few others habits I’d like to nurture that are personal and more on my “habit list” for the future (practicing guitar, keeping a daily journal, drinking more water, etc.), but I don’t want to be overly ambitious!  It’s just like me to say, “I’m not going to set overwhelming goals.  Instead I’ll nurture 82 habits!”

I need to make a habit of not putting too much on myself.

I’ll keep you posted on my habits and how they are going.  Do you have a habit you’re going to nurture in 2018?

nurturing habits

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54 Comments on “nurturing habits”

  1. It’s a healthy way to change how to Di things. You have changed your perspective. I am trying to do ‘this too. I signed up for the year to clear programme and I think this idea will go well side by side with this. I had already started with the make the bed thing. There are a few more things I’m going to add. Thank you fir showing me a different perspective

  2. I, like you, tend to lean toward heaps of ‘habits’ or ‘goals’ until I am utterly overwhelmed. 🙂
    I posted last week about developing positive habits, habits that help my personal roads converge so that my life is sort of on one track rather than two: my values on one road, my habits/behaviors on the other. This year, I’d like to simply live day-to-day in a way that reflects my values. For example, I value my health (a lot), so drinking plenty of water, exercising daily and eating well are all ways I can live in line with my values. When I think of goals or habits in this light, it becomes simpler for me to link it all together and stick to it. It’s like a little gift I give myself. 🙂 I also wrote about weight loss/health and the road I’ve gone down with all of that, from the time in my life when I was confident about my weight and the struggle I’ve had to get back there. Finally, I started making my bed each morning in November. I made it a 30 day ‘what if’ challenge after I read the book. I am still doing it, and I gotta say: it’s a great way to start the day! Your pictures are beautiful and your style is infectious. Loving this post.

  3. I really like this post.

    And it pushed me to do something similar.

    *Arts; spend some time every day doing creative stuff like painting or drawing or some project.
    *Exercise; spend some time every day working out, even if it is just a little 5 min exercise.
    *Pamper; take time every day to pamper myself. Like a nice hot bath and nice smelling skin lotions.
    *Clean; keep on top of the cleaning by clearing away stuff and doing dishes every day instead of waiting until things look messy.
    *Walks; take more walks with the dog, even if she complains and wants to stay in bed cause it’s cold outside.
    *Social; take time every day to be social with friends in some way. Call or text or hang out. Make plans.

  4. I think habits (or practices) over goals is a good common sense plan. I HAVE to make my bed every day- if it has been a crazy day, I will even make the bed before I get in it at night. I love smooth covers!

    1. Dear Karin,

      Me too about making my bed…….if only I could work on keeping the rest of the bedroom “made” everyday ! So that will be one habit I’ll be working on in 2018.

  5. I love this idea! I’ve been cultivating new habits since October and it’s been very satisfying. Some have been very successful, others not so much, but that is OK – it helps me better recognize what is really important to me, I think. I use an app called HabitBull to track the progress, and it helps me a lot.

    So far, my biggest achievements have been to establish these habits:

    • Write at least 750 words every day (I use 750words.com for help with this)
    • Meditate for at least 5 minutes every day
    • Read at least five pages of a book every day

    I have others that are works in progress still, like regular exercise, keeping up with housecleaning, etc. I’ve gone through different iterations of these, and now have landed on

    • Any cleaning activity for at least 10 minutes a day
    • Any physical activity (walking, yoga, etc.) for at least 10 minutes a day
    * Any visually creative activity outside work (drawing, painting, web design, etc.) for at least 10 minutes a day

    For those I’m setting the goal fairly low so that I am sure to succeed – and that is the key to creating a new habit. Then you can build on that and up your game! That is what has worked for me, anyway. 🙂

    I’m totally taking your approach into mind. I really like how you are relating your habits to a defined endgame, which makes a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing and inspiring!

  6. count me in….making habits instead of goals….to reach a goal! Love it! mmmm, first do a 20 minute stretch routine every morning….and spend 20 minutes reading before bed time. :)….be present in the moment too!

  7. 5 years ago I started a blog on Tumblr, with the goal of posting one photo a day. It is the only resolution I have kept consistently over the years! It is a good “journal” of my life, but it also makes me approach each day differently — looking for beautiful and positive things that I can photograph for my blog. Sometimes it’s a family member, sometimes nature, sometimes a project I am working on. Love your blog and keeping up with you and your sweet family!

    1. Sandy, Thanks for sharing this link—it was great and a good addition to Marian’s neat post, too! (PS, in yesterday’s paper I saw a book by that same name and author. Apparently he may have written a book like his speech!)

  8. oh,, its so funny you mentioned making your bed daily,, I have never been a “make your bed in the morning type”, I have made it before I get in it at night,, I just started making my bed in the morning,, and it is actually causing a shift in my thinking and how I start my day…,, I also enjoy the ” nurturing a habit” and the goal it produces,, ( love this 🙂 ) some of the habits I choose to nature:
    1. making my bed daily,,
    2. nurturing the art of self care,,, esp. exercising,,
    3. daily devotion’s
    4. journaling

    and also working on my watercolor skills,, thanks Marian for your transparency,, it inspires us…

  9. I really like the goal/habit list to begin the New Year. Eating better and getting more exercise always tops everyone’s list and are important habits but I always like to find one thing that might not be the first thing that comes to mind. For me, that goal/habit is to explore something new every month. It might be a place I have never been but have wanted to go to or some activity that I have always wanted to try but have got around to.

    January’s activity is going to the newly opened Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC on Friday. I have heard so many great things about this new museum and cant wait to see and explore it.

  10. Last year I created rhythms after hearing Allie Cassasa talk about the importance of it. It really works! Now, my bed is made every day even if I’m washing the sheets, the bathroom is always cleaned up, and usually the bedroom is also. This year I need to get in the habit of waking up earlier, meal planning, and having a tidy kitchen.

  11. The keto diet became a habit for me 15 months ago. I eat no sugar and carbs.

    Knowing inside I could no longer do chemo, I prayed for an answer and not feeding the tumors was it.

    As an unexpected bonus I dropped weight quickly, with little exercise and feel great! First diagnosed at 42 with stage 2, now about 10 years later II have stage 4 breast mets in my lungs. A nagging cough alerted me to see a doctor. The cough slowly disappeared shortly after I began the diet. I now believe I was inflaming my body with sugar. With all my heart I hope this helps someone else!

    1. Your post is a bit of a wake up call for me. I tend to love too much sugar and my body reacts in not good ways when I overindulge. Thanks for reminding me of the obvious…my body doesn’t like it. Stop eating sugar, especially.

    2. Since, there is no “like” button, I’ll “like” comment. 🙂 It is amazing how a health challenge can set our eating priorities straight. I have had the same experience with a keto type of diet. Inflammation symptoms disappearing and easy weight loss. Praying for you!

  12. My resolution (or habit) was to take more pictures with my “real” camera, versus my cell phone. I have a 6 month old and 2 year old, so it takes more effort to use a camera that requires two hands but I love having better quality images – so that’s what I’m focusing on this year. 🙂

  13. Just reading Danette’s post above, and I am rooting you on from Texas! Praying for your strength through this battle, too. I like the sugar-cutting habit, and I think that I will follow your lead.

    Marian, I like this HABIT approach. I found that because I had not met goals in years past that for the last two years I have purposely avoided creating them. This year was different. My children bought me a flowery aluminum water bottle for Christmas. We thought that I could use it to take my tea everywhere. It turns out that I love drinking plain old water from the pretty bottle. Starting Christmas Day I began a habit that I required in my life, but never made it a HABIT. Now I realize that is exactly what I am doing. Thank you for this new perspective! I am off to make a HABIT of my HABITS.

    Thank you for the encouragement!

  14. I LOVE THIS!!! What a thought….this has inspired me so much today! Sometimes, just changing the way you think about something is all it takes to make a difference!! Thank you!

  15. What a wonderful idea, to nurture a habit rather than making a resolution. You’ve presented it very well, too, I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a classic post that is repeated at the end of every year. Well done

    As for my habits, I’d like to work on the habit of spending at least 30 minutes each weekday on two major writing projects, I’d also like to work on the habit of exercising for at least 20 minutes six days a week,

  16. Creating a habit. Great way of putting it! I’m taking a different approach to New Years Resolutions this year. (New for me anyway.) Not so much specific things, but attitudes about people and myself: Be more generous with things, time, prayers for others. Think before speaking-be positive not negative. Be better listener. Think before pulling out my wallet. Check impulsive buying. Go to thrift stores less. Read good books. Entertain guests more. Smile at people in the grocery store. (and other places).

  17. My new habits for the year are 1. Morning devotions. I have a great book that I have dipped into now and then, but I will try for every day this year. It contain daily Bible readings, a brief writing from a historical church figure, a psalm, a hymn verse and many prayers to choose from. So far so good, every day this year (!), and it changes how my day “feels!” (I also do my coconut oil pulling during the devotion–multi-tasking is my thing!) Habit 2. Have a hygge evening at home each month, even if it’s just for my husband and me, but I hope to also invite others to our home more often this year. (Look up The Little Book of Hygge on Amazon.)

  18. This is inspiring. I have worked full time out of the home most of my life. I “retired” at the beginning of November and I soon realized I don’t know how to work at home. Some people may think there’s nothing to it but I’ve never established staying at home habits. Usually my 6-8 hours each day were devoted to sitting at my desk. Suddenly those hours need to be filled with something productive other than grazing, TV, and Pinterest. So, I have a few habits I need to establish. Thanks for the little push to establish some healthy habits in this stage of living.

    1. So understand “those hours need to be filled with something productive other than grazing, TV, and Pinterest.”

  19. I laughed at the bed making habit -it took me doing travel assignments and living in a hotel for most of 4 years to learn to pick up and straighten after myself – MMS, rock on!!!! I miss the children being at home but am proud of the 3 because they are wonderful adults and good parents. You are right -nurturing a habit is sustaining.

  20. Thank you for sharing this “goal” for the new year. I’m on board for “nurturing a new habit” this year instead of whipping myself for not reaching a previous goal. In fact, as I read your blog today I realized that I’ve already nurtured some good habits that I wasn’t aware of, like: making the bed everyday, drinking more water, leaving the bathroom “visitor friendly” almost every day and putting the trash out.

    I’ve given up saying I’m going to lose 40 lbs. this year (at 70 those lbs. have really sneaked in) which would put me at around 150 (don’t ask how short I am, please). I reprimand myself when I miss a week of walking with the gals (4 miles ea. day) at the park. But walking 30 minutes each day! I can do that. My dog would love it if I were consistent. You should see how excited he gets when I put my walking shoes on and get out his harness/leash. He can almost get into the harness by himself! And stretching. That’s a good one especially if I don’t feel like walking one day. I’m pretty limber at 70, can still cut the lawn, but stretching would make getting out of a chair so much easier. But the biggest habit I’d like to nurture is spending quiet time with God before the day starts and not only talking with Him but listening.

    I guess another “thing” I did last year was volunteer in two ministries and it’s now a habit for me on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are days I really don’t want to go and just stay home and be lazy but I’m always glad I did because I’m more blessed than those I’m there to serve!

    BTW: Our church community also does “small groups” and just recently I opened my home up to be a small group leader. This incentivizes me to keep the house clean on a weekly basis. Even though only one person showed up I’m blessed because she’s a young gal of 24 and so precious! I never married nor had children so it’s a joy to welcome her into my home (and Nicholas [cat] and Mikey [Chug]) love the company too.

    Thank you for opening your blog to express so much about our lives with you. I’ve noticed through the years that the more you’ve done so the more you are blessed in every way!

  21. Marian,
    Great post! I make my bed every day, and hate how the bedroom looks and feels when I don’t. I also do better when I exercise daily, but do I? ;
    Another thing I need to do: limit my screen time! Think it will help me to set a timer on myself, so I have just enough time to read my favorite blogs, then get up and do something else!
    As far as reading my Bible: I can’t concentrate when I am tired, so I need to wait for the fog to clear/ read before the fog descends. For me, I need to wait about an hour after waking or make time at least an hour before bedtime to read God’s word. Ok, going right now. Thanks for the push!
    By the Jewish calendar, the New Year (5578) turned last September, so we are late:-O

  22. I am trying to develop some of the same habits this year. I am already in the habit of making my bed everyday. I am trying to follow the fly lady more faithfully to keep my home in order.

    If my home is in order and I am feeling good physically I think some of my other goals and dreams will fall into place.

    Wishing you the best and excited to see your art grow this year

    1. I follow the Flylady habits too. For the house anyway – now I just have to work on myself ( water, rest etc) The habit I want to cultivate is “one in one out” Or the house will burst at the seams with Stuff x

  23. A great post. Thank you! A new habit I began a year ago was to put my clothing away. It was either hung, folded in a drawer, or placed in laundry basket. They are no longer draped over a chair, foot of bed, or dropped in floor. Took me a long time to nurture the good habit but well worth it. Love my neat room and closet.

  24. I like this nurturing a habit (instead of goal) seems more encouraging and thank you for sharing your habits

  25. I started on a whole foods plant based low fat diet a few weeks ago, have lost weight and inches and am feeling great. I definitely feel like I will never go back! Three weeks in, I felt more relaxed, lighter and more energetic. I’m sleeping better, and am surprised at how easy it is to go without animal products!

  26. I love this—such a wonderful perspective to think of nurturing habits. It sounds like the perfect combination of a realistic approach with lots of self-love thrown in! I can definitely be way to hard on myself so thinking of it as a nurturing process will help me.
    Also, this isn’t a sales pitch but if anyone is looking for an amazing exercise website, look at FitnessBlender.com. It’s all home-based workouts and…it’s all totally free!! I’m not affiliated with them at all—I’m just a huge fan and love to share their work whenever I can.
    Thank you for this inspiring post!!

  27. Always remember: it takes 28 days to change a behavior and an additional 90 days to make the change a habit. So that is 4 solid months. I worked as a consultant to entrepreneurs for over 25 years and this is one mantra of industrial psychology I would utilize to help them understand when it came to implementing policy of change of direction in their companies. ” it has to be carved in stone for four solid months…do not deviate regardless how much the employees will resist the change”

    To substantiate the claim… recall how rehab is a 28 day process…how everyone tells us to give our body “about” a month for a diet to show real results….it’s the mind body connection..the way God designed us.

    So Miss Mustard Seed…when the days of May arrive and you are still making your bed, exercising daily and nurturing your creative artistry…pat yourself on the back…because your change has become a habit!

    Speaking of your creative artistry…what became of the rug contest where you submitted the graphic taken from the antique quilt. I LOVED that as a rug and would buy it in a heartbeat!!

    What say You??

  28. I totally agree. This week my goal has been to get the water drinking thing going again, and then add something else next week. Knowing that I wanted to do that, my husband put a half gallon jar of water on the counter with a little note of encouragement on the lid when he left early for work Monday morning 😁. It’s helped me before to have the whole day’s water so visible, and he knew that. Nice to have that support! 😉.

  29. Gosh Marian, I loved absolutely everything about this post! Especially the top shot of your new bed/bedding… so gorgeous, such LIGHT..! I love everything you do and this post highlights that you are an intentional, motivated person- I like that and want to be that way myself!
    Thank you for this glimpse into your life and HAPPY NEW YEAR <3

  30. It takes 21 days of doing some thing before it is considered a habit. It works, I have tried it and every time I start doing something new after 21 days it will be a habit. I must warn you though that although it takes 21 days to make the habit, it only takes 1 day to break it.

  31. Key for me is to link new habits to something I am already doing. For example, I wanted to do ab work each day. Now I do some Pilates moves while the water for my French press is heating. I also found it helpful to set up a “habit tracker” (really just a piece of graph paper with categories and dates that I put in my planner) on which to keep track of my progress.

  32. A few hours after reading your thoughts and inspiration about practicing habits as an alternative to setting goals, I began Daniel Pink’s newest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. The concept of practicing a habit combined with some concrete evidence and education about what types of work might be most successful at which times of our day has me feeling more optimistic and energized than I’ve felt in a long time. For those of us who juggle work (for me, part-time from home) with family, home, community and nurture of a creative life across all domains, understanding more about the magic of WHEN helps me do the HOW.

  33. I absolutely needed this lovely post! I enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. It’s so inspirational!
    I think I’ve always started out strong in January with lots of goals but I get off track somewhere along the way. I really need to take better care of my body by exercising, drinking more water & getting more sleep. Sometimes, I feel like I’m so busy taking care of everyone else’s needs that I’m not even on the “to-do” list.
    Once the kiddos are off to school I can sit down and spend quiet time with God. This is my favorite part of the day! I think making beds can give the bedrooms an instant face-lift. My neighbor even does this now and says that her hubby is very happy 🙂
    I think I’m getting overwhelmed and struggling to come up with what to make for dinner! I want to be more confident in the kitchen and become better at making great meals for my family.

  34. Hi! I’m new to your blog and am wondering if you sell your art? I love the two bottom landscape paintings in the picture which also feature the girl’s lovely portrait.

  35. I really enjoyed reading everyone’s posts. A habit is such a positive word to use, instead of setting specific goals. Just seems to take the pressure off. One of the habits I’m encouraging myself to do is taking the time to write letters to my grown children. It just seems that everyone sends emails (including myself) I just think what a nice surprise to go to the mailbox and there is a sweet note on beautiful stationary. I think it has become a dying art.

    From past experience I know that I have to follow a two week ritual of working out daily for it to become a habit. Then your body takes over and you just feel so much better, with a lot more energy. It’s just checking off the calendar for the first two weeks that seems difficult.

    Great food for thought from everyone. Here’s to successful habits!

  36. Hi MMS!

    We share similar habits we wish to nurture!! I want to set more time aside to be creative. I love calligraphy, paper arts, decorating, gardening, cooking. But the biggest habit I wish to develop is cooking more nutritious meals. I am a certified Vegan Chef and feed everyone well, but myself!

    Thanks for this post. It makes things not feel so oppressive and unattainable to nurture habits opposed to basically laying out a strict plan for change – that I would resent later!

    Many well wishes to you and your family in your new beginning.

  37. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas about habits. I work with lots of people trying to make large and small life changes that often seem overwhelming. Somehow the idea of starting just one new habit is more doable and less daunting than starting with a big goal. You’ve inspired me to cultivate some new habits, too. Wishing you all the best with new habits and progress towards the end goals.

  38. Oh my goodness (as in GOD’s Goodnness!), Marian, I am so sorry I piped in with unasked “helpfulness” two weeks ago! I now spent the night catching up on your posts AFTER you wrote about your early weeks & years of hoping to move to intact workspace. I may be old enough to be your mother, but I’m 2-4 years behind you in several ideas about which I accosted you! Your mother doesn’t lecture you, she comes FREQUENTLY to HELP &
    ENCOURAGE! You all have this!
    I will visit your pretty posts & bless you all silently.

  39. Marian, I am always amazed at how similarly we think. I am also working on the 30 minutes of exercise (elliptical) 5 days a week as part of an effort to lose 30 pounds, as well as time in the studio (watercolor painting) five days a week. I set a time for painting, 10 am to noon each day, that cannot be interrupted unless it is an emergency because I have a tendency to let other things, i.e. housework, internet, laziness, get in the way of art. This has worked well for me because it gets me moving early, especially if I have other things I want to get done prior to studio time. I have also joined an online group of artists committed to one small painting every day for the next week (and hopefully beyond). I already make my bed every day. I guess that has become a habit, because I get a little crazy if the bed doesn’t get made. If I can get that way about exercise and painting, I’ll be excited. 😉

  40. I really like the clean mama book for establishing habits for keeping my house clean-ish. By nature, I am not organized so it has been helpful. It’s called Simply Clean by Becky Rapinchuk. Have fun with your habits!

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