Jennifer Brozek | 50 Things I Have Learned in 50 Years, Part 2

50 Things I Have Learned in 50 Years, Part 2

Being in my fifties now, I thought it would be a good thing to think about some thoughts I’ve learned that I’ve incorporated into my life—or try to. I’m not perfect. I’ve broken these 50 things in to five groups: Emotions, Habits, Love, Career, and Perspective. I will post one section a week for five weeks. This week’s section is: Habits.

Habits. These are the buttons that we (and other people) program into ourselves so we do things without thinking too hard about it. It’s a little like driving on autopilot. Get up and brush your teeth. Make coffee before going to work. Brush your hair before you go out the door. Wash clothing on Wednesday. The list of mundanity goes on. They keep life moving. These are all habits.

Most of these habits start out as accidental or something that our parents drilled into us as children. As adults, after we have learned just how useful healthy habits are, we need to force them into being. It’s not as easy as when we were children. As adults, when we want to establish a new habit, we need to work at it, plan it, and take deliberate action to plant the seeds. It takes time and mental energy to create these new patterns. Here are some of my most important habits.

  1. Habit: Don’t put it down, put it away. This will save you so much time in the long run.
  2. Habit: Do the hardest thing first. Especially if you really don’t want to do it. (This is the "eat the frog first" thought.)
  3. Habit: If you shouldn’t have it, don’t have it in the house. Life is so much easier that way.
  4. Habit: Get a fifteen minute timer. You can survive anything for fifteen minutes. Use for cleaning/tidying, writing, decluttering, meditating. Anything you have resistance to. Fifteen minutes is such a doable timeframe.
  5. Habit: If it’s really important, note it down somewhere (handwritten or typed) where you regularly look for what you have forgotten. Otherwise, you will forget it. Trust me.
  6. Habit: Pill sorters and phone/computer alarms/calendars will save you a lot of pain and sometimes save you embarrassment. These tools aren’t just for old people. Use the tools at your disposal and make life easier.
  7. Habit: Keep a five year journal at least once in your life. This habit will give you snapshots of memory to look back on as well as perspective.
  8. Habit: At least once a day, when eating, focus on the meal and do nothing else except listen to music or have a good conversation. Not only will your body be fed, your mind will be rested and you will remember what you ate.
  9. Habit: Understand the difference between doing something because you enjoy it versus doing something because you “always” do that thing—whether it is your morning routine, a hobby, or date night activities.
  10. Habit: Once a day, remind yourself three things you are grateful for. It’s a good way to start a day. It’s a good way to end a day. You don't have to write it down if you don't want to. You just have to bring it to mind.

Next up: Love.

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