Benjamin Franklin and Creating New Habits

 “Never leave till tomorrow that whichben_franklin you can do today”

~ Benjamin Franklin

I read this great book on positive psychology applied to daily life called, “Creating Your Best Life.“ At the end of this hands-on book there are several worksheets that I now use in my coaching practice, including “’Ben’ There, Done That.”

Benjamin Franklin was an inventor among the many roles he took up in his monumental life. He applied this creative mindset to his own re-invention, one habit or change at a time. He saw these self-improvement goals as character builders and looked through the lens of virtues to identify and focus on one major change at a time.   Journaling is how he kept track of his progress, marking an X each day he was able to use the self-control needed to meet his specific goal.

Ben never added a new goal until he was satisfied that he had conquered the previous one. This enabled him to focus on one thing at a time, adding more potency to his intention. Each goal took some time, but back then life wasn’t so rushed and I venture to guess that there was more wisdom around the adage, “slow and steady wins the race.”

Ponder for a moment the idea of New Year’s Resolutions. Why are most of these new best practices so often abandoned by month’s end? My suspicion is we resolve to change too much or make our resolutions so lofty that they become difficult to sustain. It’s also possible that we don’t put enough thought into what’s driving the goal and the long-term benefits we will enjoy if we keep at it.

Also, most real changes take a lot of sustained effort and self-control. Not easy stuff. I know I have one thing on my list right now that I keep putting off and that is to begin meditating for 10 minutes each day. When I look at this goal it involves two big challenges for me: creating more spaciousness in my day and tending to my monkey mind. Yet if I look at this objectively, adding meditation into my routine is transactional, meaning I can realistically make it happen with some shifts in each day. What becomes transformational is when I embrace this habit and it becomes woven into who I am and how I meet each day, more calmly and mindfully, two benefits I highly value.

What is one goal on your list that calls out to you right here, right now? And why wait until January 1st to set it into motion? I am going to go old school like Ben and get out a piece of paper and inscribe “Meditation”, where below there will be room for the X’s I intend to earn each day.

Anyone want to join me and make a “Ben There” list?

 

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