I was talking with one of my super-smart friends—one of those incredibly kind, wise women whose wisdom in part lies with the fact that she doesn’t make herself “wrong” for feeling what she feels. “I feel like I need to root down into some structure, right now,” she said, and she proceeded to tell me about how she’d recently made herself a healthy habits list.
This healthy habits list included everything from things she needed to hold herself accountable around with her body to her relationships to her internal well-being. That got me to thinking about what would go on my own healthy habits list (and what wouldn’t go on such a list!).
When I talk about habits, I’m always talking about integrating a way of being into your life in such a way that you don’t have to “pump yourself up” or work hard to “motivate” yourself to move into that way of being. When something is a habit, it’s something you do over and over without really thinking about it (which is great when something works well for us, and not as great when it’s a bad habit). That’s why I love combining courage and habits.
Consider this question for yourself, too: what would go on your own healthy habits list? What are the daily habits that would nourish you physically, mentally, spiritually, financially, or otherwise?
Here’s my healthy habits list , the list of healthy lifestyle habits that support me to live each day from a place of courage (and in case anyone is new around here and doesn’t already know? That doesn’t mean perfection. When I talk about living with courage, I’m talking about how we live authentically at the same time that we own our mistakes, work with challenges that arise, and give something back to the wider world).
My Healthy Habits List (Feel free to share!)
Meditation and accessing the body : Doesn’t need to be a long, structured meditation. If I can spend a few minutes taking present breaths after waking up, I’m good. Any time spent accessing the body and getting present is good.
Recognizing the Upper Limit and reframing limiting stories : I finally came to understand the ways that I “upper limit” myself and one habit I’ve cultivated is to do a daily check-in to see if I can recognize anything from that day that was “upper limiting.” This keeps me conscious about the tendency to go to that place.
Salads : I’ll be honest and share that for me, making a salad is a PITA. I’d rather grab and go than take the time. But I know that fresh vegetables are critical to my overall health, so I’m also willing to make this a healthy habit that I’ll stay accountable around.
Social time and reaching out : Between my business, writing my book (The Courage Habit), being the mother of a young child, wanting to make sure I have time with my husband, and regular exercise (including, at one point, training for half-Ironman triathlons!), sometimes the last thing on my list is finding dedicated time with friends. Yet the clinical research indicates over and over that one of the healthiest habits you can have is regular time with people you’re connected to. Finding some way to make sure that I play and have social time is something that goes on the habits list.
Writing fiction : The feelings of being time-crunched that I just mentioned above, also apply here. It’s easier to think, “I need to get work done” than it is to think, “I need to write fiction because it’s this thing that I love to do.” When I create a healthy habits list and then make myself accountable—grounding and rooting in it as my wise friend described—then I make sure that my side projects get more room at the table.
Creating a healthy habits list that hits all of the bio-psycho-social notes of what you need physically, mentally, and socially is a great way to go.
With my own healthy habits list (currently hanging in my kitchen) I find that I’ll be most successful at keeping the habits going when I make the bar for success low (e.g., a regular salad instead of that new salad with the funky dressing that requires special ingredients from the store will suffice to fulfill my “I had a salad” requirements) and if I tie each habit to something else. For instance, if I always make a point of checking in with friends when I take my lunch break, that ties the habit of checking in and getting social time with something that I do daily, anyway (take a lunch break).
One other quick thing: for those of us with a rebellious streak, if you’ve read this far, some part of you might be thinking, “Ugh, a healthy habits list isn’t for me. I hate that kind of structure!”
I’m not one who likes being tied down to rigid structure, either—but I find that within a few days of being committed to a list like this, I’m able to integrate these habits into my day in such a way that they don’t really feel like “structure.” It’s worth confronting and reframing limiting Stories about how you perceive this kind of accountability (or how you perceive establishing healthy habits, for that matter).
Now it’s your turn: what would you want to go on your own healthy habits list? You might also want to join the YCL e-letter to get access to the Your Courageous Life library full of resources, including the Shift Plan and an upcoming worksheet for creating your own healthy habits list .