January often finds me a touch conflicted. I always can think of about a million ways I could improve my life or myself or my processes, but also I’m rebellious by nature and kind of hate the whole “It’s January, let’s make a resolution we can keep for two weeks!” trend. So in 2016 I decided to satisfy both my inner over-achiever and my inner rebel by trying a bunch of habits for a month at a time, just to see what worked to make me, my life, or my processes a little better in some way.

Now that 2016 is (long past) closed, it’s time to sum up.

The idea of tiny habits had been percolating (stewing? fermenting?) since early 2015 when I read this article. The idea of aiming low (like really, really low) resonated with me… There’s a lot that I simply can’t handle for lack of capacity. But aiming low? I got that.

Some of the monthly goals were about aiming low (like the article’s single pushup) and some were just about aiming for something else.

Here’s how it all went down…

January: get up early

I did this really well in January, because I was on vacation and my schedule was all different anyway. It had an amazing impact on my life in general. Also, it was super hard to sustain at home, so I have had to keep coming back to it.

February: leave food on my plate at meals

Catastrophic failure.

I just couldn’t remember.

Mindful eating was a struggle that popped up more than once in 2016.

March: floss in the shower

Total win. Still works.

April: scripture memory and photo processing

I did both pretty consistently, and neither stuck.

May: take “big camera” pictures every day

I like the results. I go in phases. Right now, I’m careful to take pictures, and I really enjoy watching my children grow and noticing beauty this way.

June: write “rambling pages” for five minutes a day

This one was (is) hard to work in, but it’s one that I’m currently revisiting because it is helpful to my mornings.

July: give myself some grace

I had a baby toward the end of July, so the whole thing was taken up by the worst part of pregnancy and the most bleary part of birth recovery and newborn life. I effectively slacked off! I had mixed results in my attempts to give myself grace. (And for the last six months, that remains true: great at not meeting goals, okay at grace.)

August: drink water

I built this freebie in when I started in January. I expected Lilly at the tail end of July/beginning of August, so I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle much and also knew that in that first month of breastfeeding, there simply isn’t enough water in the whole world to satisfy my thirst, so water drinking was a safe bet.

September: seriously nothing

Oops. I just missed it altogether. I started homeschooling which was, bizarrely, more disruptive to my life and systems than a fourth baby was.

October: post daily

That was a crazy month- I found cracks to write in. My housework slipped (a lot.) My bigger two watched a lot of Wildkratts while the little two napped so I could write. It was amazing to try. Also? Ain’t nobody got time. I love writing. I love it enough to post every day. But I can’t squeeze it in. I’m still working on finding my rhythm.

Novemeber: practice authenticity in my interactions

Um… Smart people say you should make SMART goals (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound.) This goal was not SMART. It’s hard to know how I measured up in November. I know I did well during the first part (I was out of my normal rhythm and circles.) It was really difficult after that, though. I was fighting my normal habits and the structure of my everyday life (I tend to live a little overstimulated, tired, and without enough margin, so fully showing up is really hard.) But it was excellent to try, and I continue to work toward bringing my best self to my interactions and relationships.

December: no seconds

This year’s OTHER epic fail. Both my eating goals went really badly. I had a hard time remembering both this one and February’s goal. If I had to guess, I forgot about 80% of the time. Of the remaining 20%, I cared enough to follow through about half of the time. So 10% of dinners in December, I did AWESOME! (That’s three. THREE dinners.) So last year, I learned a couple of approaches to mindful eating that absolutely don’t work for me this season. I really want to be someone who eats both mindfully and intuitively, but I’ll have to find another way.

Way to finish strong.

So what did I learn?

I like the principle. A month at a time seems to be a reasonable way to test habits. 30 (or 29 or 31) days was enough time to figure out if a practice worked for me and whether it’d stick. Turns out, I’m not the only one with this idea. Alexandra Kuykendall did a similar (but far less random) experiment in this book I finished last week. Bonus? Dental floss was not involved at any point.

I think I’m going to keep the monthly habit experiment going. If I find anything super useful, I’ll be sure to share!

Published by robininalaska

Robin Chapman is a part-time writer, editor, and birth photographer and a full-time imperfect mama, wife, Jesus follower, and normalizer of failure. She’s trying hard to learn how to do this motherhood thing in a way that doesn’t land the whole family in intensive therapy. She has a heart for helping other mamas buried in the little years with hope, humor, and solidarity. You can find her hiding out in the bathroom with an iced dirty chai, writing and editing and making spreadsheets for KindredMom.com where she is a cheerleader for mamas, or online looking for grace in her mundane and weird life. She lives in Fairbanks, Alaska with her four delightful (crazy) kids—some homeschooled, some public schooled, some too young for school at all—and her ridiculously good looking husband, Andrew.

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