powerful purposeful habits

The Common Rule by Justin Whitmel Early

I haven’t read a complete book in one day in… I don’t know how long. But I had a quiet, no-urgent-task Saturday, a beautiful fresh-breeze sunny day, and an empty back-porch couch all to myself. And I had a great book, full of authentic hopeful words that drew me in and gave nourishment to my soul.

It was a powerful combination –
one that doesn’t happen often.

I almost gave up on The Common Rule at first. It seemed a bit over-simplified, and after a number of heart-wrenching, mind-numbing, complex, and difficult years, I am not a big fan of “just do this…” kind of answers. However, the more I read, the more Justin Whitmel Earley captured me with his authenticity and his grasp of reality as he offered flexible options that could work for our many-varied steps on the journey.

Early writes about habits.

Habits of purpose,
habits that counter our decision fatigue,
habits that “form our hearts” and lead us to love. 

He recommends eight habits in the book. The habits focus on loving God and others and on refreshing our hearts while we resist those easy-to-fall-into tendencies that wear us down.

The habits are not about legalistic ritual. They are suggested to battle self-condemnation, anxiety, isolation, hurriedness, and injustice. The habits lead us toward peace, gratefulness, compassion, deeper relationships, and rest. Which one of us of doesn’t long for those things?

Earley’s habits are as simple as having one meal with others each day or turning off the phone for one hour a day. But they are not easy.

The eight habits of purpose

The most ordinary habits of limitation create
the most extraordinary lives of meaning.

So far, I have implemented into my days only parts of some of his suggested habits, but I am encouraged that even those have made a difference. In these days of so much uncertainty, chaos, and loss of routine, regular life-giving habits can provide help for building the resilience we need for the long-term changes we have in front of us. They certainly gave me hope and I think adding some habits of purpose into your life might give you hope too.

If you have read the book or read it now, please share with me what you thought about it. I’d love to hear from you.

What helpful habits do you have in your life? 

focus. focus. focus.

eyeHave a big project to finish?

Do you put it off until the last minute? Do you start well, but putter out near the end?  Do you charge through and end strong? Do you have a hard time focusing and get easily distracted?

Just this morning I emailed away my draft copy of my MA capstone paper. It felt wonderful to hit the “send” button, but it was not an easy process. The final work is still not done. I will receive feedback from the MA advisor and continue on the project until early December. I am so very ready to graduate!

To send off the draft copy, I spent the last three days completely focused on the paper. It was not an easy thing for this sunshine-loving, active extrovert to do, but necessary for the goal. I read this morning a few tips about focus by Michael Hyatt. They may come in handy in the next weeks… or they may help you!

Here’s my version of his list:

Get a good (night’s) rest. Not always easy for me to do, especially when the workload is great, but sleep is important for energy,creativity, positivity, and clear thinking. Lack of sleep makes me groggy, grouchy, and grumpy… not good for high-performance functioning. Some people find that a nap gives a quick boost.

Exercise (in the morning). I love the way I feel AFTER a workout, not before! I greatly prefer a morning run, but even a brisk walk in the evening can help keep the blood flowing and refresh the body for the task. Gotta love endorphins!

Eat a healthy (breakfast). Hyatt specifically mentions breakfast, but I’d say eat healthy all day. More protein, fruit and veggie snacks, less sugar and junk make me feel lots better when I have to put in hours of effort.

Avoid interruptions. To really make progress on the paper, I had to stay at home alone, say “no” to fun invitations from friends, and avoid social media. Hyatt suggests turning off notifications on computer and phone.

Play music. Music can distract me, but maybe this will help you. Choose music that improves your concentration.

Set a timer.  I’ve known others who do this. Concentrate hard for an hour – or any time that works for you – then take a quick stand-up, stretch, walk-around, eat-something break… and then get back to it. Sessions with a stopping point encourage us to give the best we have for that time frame.

Well, I have to get back to work now! I have some other projects to focus on. 🙂

How do you focus on an important project? Share your tips with the rest of us! 


If you’d like to read Michael Hyatt’s original post (he has lots of other good ones too!), just click here!