Create a Habit in 21 Days

The principle of the Simplify Your Life Community Challenge® is based on the notion that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Why do you need to form a habit to simplify your life?

By cutting out the unnecessary and making room for the essential you are actually shaping a simple existence for yourself. After all, how can you live simply if your papers are a mess, you haven't sat down all day and your bills are completely out of order? The answer is, you can't.

Since the object of the challenge is to help you lead a less taxing, more fulfilling life we asked our board of advisors -- Regina Leeds, Fran Sorin and Tracey McBride -- to come up with self-nurturing activities that you can turn into habits. You will find 12 of their suggestions listed below. Only choose three. (We understand that you might want to choose more, but keep in mind that if you overwhelm yourself, you will be working against the simplifying process.) Of course, if you wish to create a habit that's not on this list -- go for it!

Follow your three suggestions for 21 days. Towards the end of this challenge you will begin to see a miraculous change: What was once a task is now a habit. For example, you won't be able to walk in the house without putting your keys down in the same place. What a moment it will be when you don't have to look for lost keys to leave your home! Remember, it's the little things in life that make a difference.

Regina's Suggestions:

  • Make your bed before you leave the house. If you work at home, make your bed as soon as you get up in the morning.
  • Wash the dishes after every meal.
  • Put clean dishes away in the cupboard.
  • Take the garbage out daily.
  • Automatically put your keys in the same place each time you walk in the door.

Fran's Suggestions:

  • At some point during the day (preferably early morning), go outside to a place where there are the sounds of nature. For five minutes focus on the sounds and do some deep breathing. It will give you a boost of extra energy and clarity to carry you through your day.

    If you can't go outside, then sit next to a window and take in a glimpse of the outside world.

  • Every day take a few moments to browse through a beautiful home and garden magazine or art book with a cup of tea and some soothing music in the background (in a quiet space).
  • Place a favorite plant or vase of flowers near you so that you will be close to it while you are working.

Tracey's Suggestions:

  • Make lunch for yourself at least three days a week instead of buying something expensive.
  • Review your life goal -- clearly imagine it and its consequences.
  • Create a daily to-do list. If you choose this, try not to over-schedule yourself by cramming too many activities or potential accomplishments into your list. (This will leave you frustrated and feeling like a failure.)
  • Each day accomplish one unpleasant but necessary job that you have put off doing. It could be anything -- from making an uncomfortable telephone call to selecting a topic for a doctoral thesis. The only criteria is that, in some way, it should take you toward the achievement of your goals.
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