What do habits have to do with social change work?

Jeremy BlanchardUncategorized

A clip from a recent workshop I lead on habits.

As changemakers, we often focus on the big picture and work hard (and sometimes too hard) to make the world a better place. When we push ourselves too much, we end up burning out and possibly even giving up on our work.

That’s where habits come in. The capitalist view on habits is that they are here to help us be “more productive” and “more efficient.”

But when I think of habits, what comes to mind are two words: joy and resilience.

Our habits can either support us in the direction of the world we want to create or drain our energy and pull us away from our goals.

Here are some of the habits I’ve heard changemakers say that they’re most proud of:

  • Spiritual practices
  • Starting my day in nature listening to the birds
  • My daily yoga practice
  • Daily meditation
  • Journaling regularly for years
  • Stretching daily
  • Working out with friends

These folks all agreed that these practices helped them show up as more resilient in their changemaking work.

That’s the connection, I see. The more we do our most important habits, the more we are fueled to do the important work of remaking the world.

And so it’s worth asking: What actions—what acts of generosity or care for the world, what ambitious schemes or investments in the distant future—might it be meaningful to undertake today, if you could come to terms with never seeing the results?

— Oliver Burkeman, Four Thousnad Weeks

Habits and the broader category of “time management” aren’t about being more productive. They’re about one of the most important questions we can be asking ourselves right now, as the world is in great crisis and transformation:

➡️ How am I spending my time?

  • How am I spending my time to support my resilience so I can keep showing up?
  • How am I spending my time to contribute to the world I know in my heart is possible?
  • How am I spending my time to deepen webs of relationships and community?
  • Am I spending my time on my phone disconnecting or am I spending time connecting with people and nature?
  • How am I spending my time to learn about myself so I can bring myself to the work from a more grounded place?

These are the real questions that “time management” are about for me. And these are all questions about our habits, too.

Let’s not forget the power of habits as we work toward a more just future. Let’s use them to build resilience, find joy in our work, and create the world we envision.

Habits coaching group: If you’re looking for support on your habits, you might want to check out my upcoming habits coaching group for changemakers.