How to Develop Good Habits (and not drive yourself crazy)

We all have habits we would like to change or develop. Patterns of acting, eating, exercising, learning, or creating. Even worse for us is the maybe the lack of certain habits or patterns we wish to have, along with bad habits, like biting our nail (guilty).

But rather dwell on our bad habits, let’s make temporary peace with the shadow sides of ourselves and talk about developing good habits, patterns, and practices. Now, this isn’t a a sure-fire, 21 days to mastery post. That doesn’t really exist. The real nitty-gritty of worthwhile patterns takes longer, but we can definitely begin moving in the right direction!

My quick list of 5 habits I would like to develop (in no particular order), and why.

  1. Eat healthier – It’s good for me, I feel better, and have more energy.
  2. Play the guitar better – I like to play around people, it’s fun, and I love music.
  3. Read more – I always have loved reading, simply would like to read even more.
  4. Write diligently – I feel that I can write well, and have a story to tell.
  5. Dedicated time for Bible reading & prayer – It’s a lifeline for me, the most important, yet often neglected, practice in my life.

From my experience, all of these habits are not like snapping your fingers. They are difficult! I also experience that worthwhile habits are not the easiest to develop, as I’m sure you have as well. Humans, all the way back to Adam, look for the quickest way to success and happiness, usually at our own downfall.

I’ll quickly break down my own reasons for not developing these healthy habits.

  1. I like sugar, processed food tastes good, and it’s easy to prepare (or lack thereof)
  2. My fingers hurt and I don’t sound like David Wilcox after 10 minutes
  3. But Modern Family is so funny! As Jim Gaffigan says “You know why I like the movie more than the book? NO READING
  4. I’ve been writing for 3 months and no book deal? Screw this!
  5. It’s too early/late, the weather is too nice/bad/rainy/snowy/hot/cold, I haven’t had coffee/food/tea/ice cream, any of the above excuses will do. And of course… because I’m afraid of what I’ll be asked to do.

So that’s it. I would encourage you to do the same for your own hopeful habits. I think most of us are closer than we think, and the last steps to take are the most difficult. They are the steps that put you out in public, make failure possible. You’ll be sitting in Subway with a veggie sub, explaining why you’re reducing your meat consumption by 95%, heading towards 100%. You’ll be talking about how you turned off your TV satellite at the beginning of football season. Or the creeping terror of talking about your faith.

And then I will be overcome with guilt for my relapses, as you may be.


Let’s make a decision to move towards our true selves. If you would, make a short list (I find I become overwhelmed by all my inadequacies), and break down why you want to make each one a habit, and what holds you back.

Next, decide on incremental ways to turn your hopes in to habits. Maybe start 1 at a time, and go for a month with regular practice. Don’t try and do everything at once! For me, it’s to play the guitar for 30 minutes, 5 times a week. Next month, I’ll give up a TV show a week, and read for an extra 30 minutes.

Most of the time, when I can break the cycle of a bad habit or passive attitude towards development of a good habit, it loses power over me!

Just as important is to realize that when you slip, that the slip does not define you! You cannot give that action the power to whisper in your ear “See! You’re not good enough to make this change! You’ll always be the (fill in the blank badness) that everyone knows you are!”

Yes, it happened, you slipped. I fall down daily (in a spiritual sense, but sometimes physically too), and need to be reminded that my failings do not define me. I can think “Yep, that happens” and move towards wholeness and my true self.

Now it’s your turn. Join me! What are the habits you would you like to develop or break? I encourage you to find someone to help hold you accountable and check-in on your progress. And let me know in the comments, Google+ or Twitter!

Have a great day.


Why the Devil is Upset that Jason Russell Went Mad, and 7 other reading suggestions

Invisible Children is in the news again, and not just for the attention they have received for their viral video, Kony 2012. Jason Russell was arrested for indecent exposure and behavior, due to extreme exhaustion and dehydration. I don’t know the full story, and there are many different accounts. None of them are good though, the man was in a bad situation and there is going to be more backlash. But via my friends Jeremy and Jay, here is a great take on how the Devil may have responded to Russell’s breakdown and arrest. Think he was happy? Probably not.

My Dear Wormwood,

I received your letter this morning and I must say I am not the least bit pleased. You brag and gloat that you got the face of the world’s largest youth movement to go mad. To tear off his clothes and cry out to the Enemy in the streets for all the world to see. You list the lies you whispered in his ear as if it was some brilliant chess move. I understand that you think this is a huge victory, but I’m afraid you are terribly wrong. You fool. You have ruined everything. You had a perfect opportunity to inflate his pride, to make him believe it was indeed his voice and vision that woke the world up to love and justice. You could have coached him to be eloquent and poised, and in so doing, trick the world into giving him the credit. These millions of disgustingly idealistic and optimistic young people could have believed that this man is the author of these virtues. You could have distracted them completely from the very ideas of love and justice. You could have distracted them completely from The Enemy and His work in the individual hearts and minds of young people. You could have made them think ‘I’ll never be that smart, that creative, that loving, that handsome, that true, so I might as well do nothing.’

Read the rest at The Water is Black.

Now on to the rest of this week’s reading:

New book! Enjoying my read through Zorba the Greek, I will definitely have a review up in a couple weeks. Zorba came highly recommended by friends and other writers, even made its way in to the final chapters of Bird by Bird.

Empty Handed, Full Hearted – Zen Habits – Good advice for letting go of our things and being open to the present.

Creative Funk? – Jeff Goins – Who doesn’t go through this?

An old, used copy of The Copywriters Handbook (1st Ed). Yes it was published in 1990, before the internet. It also has great things to say about simply writing, getting your point across, and communicating effectively. All of which is at a premium in today’s 140 character & text message world. And it was $3.99.

How to Really Enjoy Tea – Podcast via Expert Enough, very interesting story about the process and experience of drinking tea.

Why You Should Clean Up Your Facebook Profile – Study done that suggests the way you present yourself on Facebook accurately predicts your academic and job performance. Basically, don’t be an online moron (or a face-to-face moron).

Doodlers Unite! – A fun TED talk by Sunni Brown, who uses doodles and other visual aids to increase productivity and find solutions. Her book Gamestorming just arrived, and is next on my work list after Copywriters.

What are you reading? Would love to hear your suggestions, I’m always looking for interesting reads. Have a great day!

What Should Kids Learn These Days? My Reading for the Week

I hope everyone had a good weekend, Western North Carolina was blessed with an incredible weekend of blue skies and mild temps! On to this week’s readings…

Creative Commons via Moriza (flickr)

9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn

I work with kids, and so I’m constantly looking around for good reading on child development and education. For all the “experts” in the field, Leo (of Zen Habits) has identified 9 skills that kids need to be able to draw from throughout their lives. The notion that we educate kids in the same way we did 50 years ago is losing traction, we are training them for the past. We can’t predict the future, and it changes rapidly. So what should be the essence of what they learn? Click to read Leo’s recommendations.

How to Speed Read like Teddy Roosevelt & Scientific Speed Reading (separate articles)

I’m always reading, but can become discouraged with how my list increases by the week. The picture of the 15 books of Christmas? I haven’t finished a single one. I used to be very snobby about speed reading, thinking I wouldn’t get anything out of the book if I sped through. I going to try and change that. Many of the books I have I don’t necessarily need to read analytically, especially some of the business books. Now there is information that is helpful in them, but there they are, resting on my shelf. I’m going to give it a shot. Do any of you speed read? What are your thoughts?

A Coaching Philosophy

Vern Gambetta is one of my favorite sport trainers and coaches working today. He really knows how to breakdown a movement in to small steps that can be improved upon, gradually improving the athlete as a whole. Also, despite being a “guru” and speaking at events around the world, he also takes time to be the strength coach for a girl’s volleyball team in Venice, FL (they’re pretty good). His posts on working with athletes and coaching styles are very thought-provoking, which you can see after the jump.

Seth Godin’s 1st Reading List of 2012

It’s Seth, ’nuff said

Speed Freak

Swiss climber Ueli Steck has ascended some of the classic alpine routes in the world in record time. It’s a fascinating read on his training, drive, and trappings of new fame he has found himself in.

Using Great Storytelling to Grow Your Business

A short read that covers 2 ways to craft your story in to a memorable one. Techniques used: LOTS and the Story Spine.

Visual Panoramic of the Sistine Chapel

Indescribably beautiful

Thanks for checking in this morning, I have a post in the hopper that will be up tomorrow. In the meantime, I would love to hear what you’ve been reading, and how it’s inspired you!

The 15 Books of Christmas

The 15 books we bought/received during Christmas

Yeah, Morgan and I like to read. There is a used bookstore in Jacksonville, and I highly recommend it if you’re in the area: Chamblin Book Mine. We went a little crazy there, and then were given several books for Christmas. This is before we swap gifts with Dan & Karen, who usually give at least 1 book.

From the bottom up:

The National Parks: America’s Best IdeaTo Morgan from Me – Morgan and I love going to National Parks, so far the list includes: Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Zion, Yosemite, and Rocky Mountain. Next year we hope to hit a few more, including Yellowstone and Glacier. So this beautiful book was a no-brainer.

Tupelo Honey Cafe CookbookTo Me from Morgan – I really enjoy cooking, I enjoy planning meals and executing them. I love all 3 meals, in the order of: Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch. Tupelo Honey Cafe is one of the best restaurants here in food-crazy Asheville, if you ever have the chance I highly recommend going. The cookbook is very well done, and what gives it an extra kick is the research given to the history of Asheville, different dishes, and photography.

Steve JobsTo Me from Mom & Dad – My parents brought me up on a love of reading, so they are always happy to give me books as gifts. My Dad and I share a love of Apple products and business books in general, so this book was an easy buy. Very much looking forward to diving in.

Tim Tebow: Through My EyesTo Me from Morgan’s family – Being a Gator grad, Tebow fan, former homeschooler, Christian, and Jacksonville native, Tim and I share some similarities (and I just listed them all). Our parents actually know each other, so a lot of his past I’m already familiar with. But it will be a good read regardless.

Survival of the SickestMorgan bought for herself – She is studying to become a Nurse, and is also very interested in nutrition.

You Want To Go Where?From Me to Morgan (but really for both of us) – We’re always talking about traveling and big trips, and the thought of being sponsored and paid for is certainly intriguing.

The Healing Power of FoodsMorgan bought for herself – See earlier about Nursing/Nutrition

Sabbaths, 1987-1990 – I bought for myself – Wendell Berry is one of my favorite authors, really enjoy the way he writes. You need to set aside at least an hour when reading his novels, because there is a rhythm to them. This is a book of poetry, and semi-rare it turns out, since I can’t find a decent link to it.

Notes on NursingMorgan bought for herself – See earlier about Nursing/Nutrition

The Thank You EconomyTo Me from Mom & Dad – A highly recommended business book, and good for the business I’m in (camping, male development, and relationships). I look forward to it.

10 Essential FoodsMorgan bought for herself – See earlier about Nursing/Nutrition

Theodore RexI bought for myself – I have a interest in the life of Teddy Roosevelt, such an adventurous spirit and one of the greats of modern manliness. Should be a great read.

A Year with C.S. LewisFrom Morgan to Me – With all respect to Wendell Berry, C.S. Lewis is without a doubt my favorite author and the one whom I have read the most books. Narnia, The Ransom Trilogy, Mere Christianity, The Great Divorce, Screwtape Letters, and on and on. To have a brief bit of his wisdom and wit in each day will be wonderful.

Traveling LightFrom Me to Morgan – Max Lucado is one of Morgan’s favorite Christian authors, so I knew she would enjoy it.

A Call to DiscipleshipI bought for myself – Earlier this fall I read the Dietrich Bonfoeffer biography (it was fantastic) and noted that one of his mentors was a theologian named Karl Barth. Barth was extremely influential and well-regarded as a theological mind, and helped shape modern theology. After my good friend Bert said Barth was next up on his reading list, I figured I would pick up this slim volume for my own collection.

So there you are, looks like we have a lot of reading to do this New Year! Did you receive any books for Christmas, or have a couple on your list?