7 Areas of Life to Focus Shiny New Habits
You know you want to change something in your life, but where do you start? There are SO many different areas of life to focus on, and it can be overwhelming to try and change everything at once.
One way to start making changes in your life is by examining your habits. Habits are the things we do automatically, without even thinking about them. They’re often things we’ve been doing for a long time, and they can be tough to break.
But why focus on habits? Because they pretty much control our lives! Habits make up over 40% of our daily activities, and that has a giant impact on our quality of life. Make no mistake, our habits can either help us or hurt us, depending on what they are.
Why is it important to focus on new habits?
When it comes to making lasting change, it’s important to focus on developing new habits. As I mentioned above, habits are automatic behaviors that we do without thinking. And since they’re automatic, they’re much more likely to stick than if we have to consciously think about doing them.
Think about it this way: if you want to make a change that lasts, you need to make it easy for yourself. And the best way to do that is to develop new habits around the behavior you want to change. That way, you won’t have to expend a lot of energy thinking about it or willpower to do it – it will just become second nature.
So if you’re trying to make a change in your life, focus on developing new habits that support that change.
What areas of life can benefit from new habits?
Where you focus your attention first will depend on what’s most important to you at the moment. The Wheel of Life assessment tool is perfect to discover areas of your life that would benefit from good habits. (Take the free Wheel of Life assessment here.)
As shown on the Wheel, there are seven key areas of life that are most important to people:
1) Faith: Faith is a deep emotional and spiritual connection – the belief and value system on which we consciously and unconsciously operate. Faith is the cornerstone for how we live our lives. For some, faith is an important way to make sense of a confusing and often overwhelming world. If we’re not confident in what we believe and trust, how can we choose a wise path? What is our anchor for making good decisions? Where do we draw the line on our moral behavior? Where is our strength when life hits hard? Whether in the form of prayer, meditation, or just regular reflection, faith offers a sense of peace, comfort, and guidance to those who practice it.
2) Health: Mental, emotional and physical self-care. It’s the practice of taking care of yourself so you can be your best self, nested within the concepts of self-compassion and self-love. If we don’t respect our physical and emotional health – our own wellness – where on earth will we get the energy and stamina to get up, get things done, and create the life that we want? And how will we show up for the people we love? Self-care is a gift that we give ourselves. Nobody is going to make us fit and healthy but us.
3) Order: Systems, routines and other forms of organization. If our days, our home, our surroundings have no sense of order, there’s no rhythm or balance or harmony. It results in chaos that transfers to our internal thinking. We miss appointments, opportunities and birthdays. We miss trash day. We lose our keys and we’re late for work. “Order” can look like having a daily or weekly schedule of activities, routines, or tasks that you commit to doing. Meal planning, keeping a shopping list and maintaining a personal planner are all examples of what an orderly system looks like.
4) Family: Family can be blood or the family we create through partners, pets, community and trusted friends. The sanctuary of family is one of the main sources of well-being throughout life. Loving relationships, emotional security, and an inner circle of people that you can trust, provide a sense of belonging and meaning. Pets also provide companionship, loyalty, and unconditional love, which are essential for our overall happiness. A family provides a sense of stability, which is so helpful in difficult life circumstances. Because family is the foundation of our lives, having a strong, supportive family is important for our mental, physical, and emotional health.
5) Money: Income, bills, retirement, investments and how we pay for things we need. Healthy money habits include setting and tracking financial goals, budgeting and tracking spending, practicing delayed gratification, saving for emergencies, and investing for retirement. Patience and emotional control are essential when dealing with personal finances. A mature money mindset means viewing money as a tool to improve quality of life, build assets and for generous giving, rather than just short-term gratification.
6) Purpose: This category includes personal growth, inspirational reading, education and service to others. A sense of purpose is crucial for a healthy, well-balanced life. When we realize that “the good life” is about not about how much we can consume but how much we can contribute, we understand that purpose is the unique value that we bring into the world. It gives us direction, allows us to focus our energy and provides us with fulfillment. Without purpose, it can be difficult to find true happiness and stay motivated. Everyone’s purpose is different, so it’s important to find your own in order to lead a more enriched life.
7) Play: Rest, relax, repair, refresh, renew. If we don’t rest, play and bring lightness to life, we’re drowned by work, duty and responsibility. Our bodies suffer with aches and illness. Our immune systems backfire. We get crabby, resentful and self-centered. We lose our joy. Play lifts and celebrates, connects us with others and has no purpose but pleasure. Play is a necessary relief. It’s the helium in the balloon of life’s cares. With rest, we recover from exhaustion, maintain and revitalize our physical and mental health. We have more energy to do what matters. We take on new challenges with zest and joy. We bring more joy and purpose to our lives, our families and our communities.
How to create new habits using the Wheel’s 7 areas of life
The Wheel of Life is great tool to help decide which new habits to form. After taking the Wheel of Life assessment, identify the areas of life that need attention. These will be the categories that scored lower on the Wheel than the others.
When forming a new habit, it’s good to start small so you don’t get overwhelmed. Habits are the “comfort zones” of behavior, so changing too many at one time is counterproductive; you’re just setting yourself up for failure.
Instead, choose one area you’d like to improve and then decide on one small change that would have an impact if you did it consistently.
Can you show an example of creating a habit from one of the 7 areas of life?
Okay, here’s a small example from my own life.
Reviewing the “Order” category on the wheel, I decided I wanted to improve the ongoing tidiness of our main bathroom. (You know – the one that guests see when they pop in unexpectedly.) One thing that drives me nuts is hard-water spots that build up on the faucet, mirror and sink almost overnight. They look so grimy and unwelcoming! Grrr!
Well, I was
complaining discussing this with my sister, and she offered a solution. She suggested I use a hand towel to polish the faucet, mirror and sink every time I wash and dry my hands in the bathroom. So I started doing that. And guess what? The faucet, mirror and sink are ALWAYS shiny and polished now. Always. It takes literally five seconds and has become such a quick, ingrained habit that I even do it in public restrooms and at other people’s houses. (Well, not the mirror, just in case I leave streaks. But I digress.)
The point is that just one tiny, simple habit can be easy to institute but still solve a major frustration. For example:
- Do you continually lose your keys? Designate a place they belong, and then make a rule to always, ALWAYS put them there. (When not driving, mine are in my purse or on the wall hook.)
- Scolded by your dental hygienist? Keep some dental floss close to your TV stand, and floss your teeth every night during your favorite TV show.
- Dishes piled in the sink again? Load and start the dishwasher every night. Unload the clean dishes every morning. Make it a rule that dirty dishes aren’t allowed in the sink.
Fall in love with creating good habits. It’s fun and actually kind of addicting. Go you!
It’s time to start making new habits!
So there you have it. Consider these seven areas of life to focus on when creating good habits. If you’re feeling stuck and need some positive change, try building some new habits. It’s a great place to start and it will make a big impact.
Creating habits is a process, and it takes time and effort to see results. But if you’re patient and persistent, you’ll eventually develop the habits you want and see the changes you desire.
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Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash