Have you ever heard of the term anchor habits? This is something that we all already have, whether we know it or not. And having beneficial anchor habits can truly change your life. Let’s dig in …
Add more good to your life with anchor habits
First of all, let’s talk about the definition of the word “anchor,” which is integral to the idea of an anchor habit.
According to Merriam-Webster, an anchor is:
- A device usually of metal attached to a ship or boat by a cable and cast overboard to hold it in a particular place by means of a fluke that digs into the bottom
- A reliable or principal support
- Something that serves to hold an object firmly
And here’s a loose definition of an anchor habit pulled from this site:
Anchor habits are those core functionalities that you will do every day knowingly or even unknowingly. Anchor habits are those habits that are recurring and imprinted in your DNA.
Finally, here’s how I define anchor habits:
These are things that you do each day, no matter what, because they ground you and are part of your natural routine. They are your anchor to yourself and to your lifestyle. You don’t feel like yourself if you’re not doing them.
Now that we know what an anchor habit is, it’s safe to say that having positive anchor habits is such a powerful thing, because it means you are always naturally set up to feel good — no matter what else is going on in your life. It hopefully means that even when things get crazy and life gets hard, you have an easier time sticking to these basics that help you feel like you. They are your anchors. And if you find yourself drifting, you know you need to go back to them.
And the thing is, so often we talk about eliminating things in order to get healthier or be healthier or to change our lives. But sometimes, we can approach change by adding the good stuff. When you add a lot of good, sometimes the not-so-good gets squeezed out.
How can you use anchor habits to your advantage? Let’s walk through it …
First up: Identify if you have any anchor habits. Write them down.
Do you have any anchor habits? Of course you do. Are they positive? Are they helping you live the life you want to live? Or are they holding you back? What are the things you find yourself doing every single day without fail without barely trying to do them?
To identify your anchor habits, pull out a piece of paper or use the notes column in your phone and list out what you think your anchor habits are. What do you do every single day? What actions are you drawn to?
Remember, anchor habits can be good or bad, so be honest, and write them all down.
Here are a few of my anchor habits: My morning routine, which includes scraping my tongue, doing my morning meditation as soon as I wake up and drinking a big green tea latte with collagen. Another one of my anchor habits is organizing and putting things away as soon as I’m done with them, because I like order and cleanliness. I also like sleep, and so I make it a priority to get almost eight hours a night. And of course, moving my body with exercise is an anchor for me and always has been. I do these things without fail, and they are part of what makes me feel good.
And yes, I definitely have some bad anchor habits too, because we all do.
Next: Assess your anchor habits.
After you’ve made a list of your anchor habits, it’s time to assess them. Are there any that you don’t think you need to have? Is there an anchor that is hurting your health or growth? Are there any areas where you’d love to develop an anchor habit but don’t currently have one?
When you’re looking at your list of anchor habits, this is a good time to figure where you are missing some good stuff.
Are all your anchor habits around work? Are all your anchor habits around your personal life? Do any of your anchor habits directly relate to your own personal self-care, well-being or health? Or are they all centered around supporting others? (Side note: Give yourself some grace here, due to the whole global pandemic we’re in right now, but it’s still helpful to go through this exercise.)
Here are some areas where you can have anchor habits:
- Personal: Personal self-care and mindfulness
- Health: Fitness, wellness and diet
- Work: Career, goals and aspirations
- Connection: Relationships with your loved ones
- Environment: Home and your surroundings
- Money: Finances and life planning
- Morals: Honesty and integrity
If you see that there are areas where you are really lacking a grounding habit that would be beneficial, then perhaps you can come up with what that would be and try incorporating it into your life, slowly but surely.
This is also where you can see which habits you have that don’t really add to the good.
Maybe you’ve become accustomed to scrolling your social media feed every morning before getting out of bed and it gets you stressed or depressed before you start your day. This would be a negative habit that you may want to move away from. Instead of scrolling, take a moment to write down what you are grateful for as soon as you wake up. By adding a good activity in place of the not-so-good, you may see some positive change.
Moving on: Create new anchor habits or go back to anchors you used to have.
Sometimes, we can get away from anchor habits that we had in the past that were serving us well.
For instance, I truly don’t feel like myself if I’m not sleeping well and starting the day out on a positive note. I know that if I let that slide, I won’t be a happy camper. Basically the first year of Brady’s life, this area of anchor habits went out the window. I tried to get back to them as best as I could and eventually I did. So that being said, sometimes things can get out of our control, and that’s okay. But, you have to try to get back to your anchors as soon as possible, when life gets a little crazy.
Can you remember a time in your life when you felt fulfilled and healthy and happy? Were there habits you had at that time that contributed to that feeling? These could be potential anchor habits to try to return to.
When it comes to going back to an old positive anchor habit or creating a new one, start small. Don’t try to add five things at once, but try for one small thing that you can do several days a week at the beginning. It’s much better to do a very small amount in the right way, than to take on way too much and struggle with it.
I’d recommend writing down your new anchor habits as well, because there’s something powerful about writing things down. It makes them more real and more tangible.
Here are some possible positive anchor habits:
- Waking up one hour before everyone else in the house to enjoy some quiet time to start the day.
- Meditating every morning before getting out of bed.
- Keeping a daily gratitude journal.
- Cooking your own food at home each day.
- Getting 10,000 steps a day.
- Drinking your bodyweight in ounces of water a day.
- Meal prepping.
- Exercising regularly.
- Taking an evening walk after eating dinner.
- Turning your phone on airplane mode after 7 p.m. each night.
- Eating lunch at a table and away from technology.
- Setting a “bedtime alarm” and getting in bed at 10 p.m. each night.
- Keeping your kitchen counter and kitchen sink clean.
- Having a veggie-ful green smoothie at least once a day.
- Calling a loved one to check in every single time you get in the car to drive somewhere.
- Spending time every day working on your spirituality.
And the list could go on and on and on.
Ongoing: Keep an eye on your anchors.
If you let your anchors slide, you may start to feel a little off. That’s why you have to keep a loose eye on what you’re doing every day to stay grounded and stay well.
And as you get used to a new or returning positive anchor habit, you can gradually add more. It doesn’t have to be complicated either, because the beauty of anchor habits is that they become so easy to do as they become part of your routine.
They say it usually takes about 21 days to develop a habit, and I think that’s an excellent duration to strive for before turning a new habit on autopilot. You’ll need to be intentional about the habit, until it becomes part of you.
Moral of the story?
Anchor habits are a real thing, and the more you do something regularly, the easier it gets to do. If you spend time assessing your anchor habits and getting some good ones in place, you’ll hopefully see the less-than-positive habits disappear into the distance.
Thank you for reading the blog today, my friends! Go out and rock those habits. You can see some of mine over on Instagram.
Other posts you may like
- Three helpful mindset shifts I’ve made recently
- How we can make the most of the last 90 days of 2020
- Five things you should be doing in your 30s for your life and health
- Join me for a little fall 2020 coffee chat
- What I’ve learned while working with a life coach
Questions of the day
What’s one anchor habit that you have?
What’s one that you want to develop?
How was your weekend?