“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~ Aristotle
An anchor is a device that is used to connect a vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the craft from drifting due to wind or current. When the vessel starts to drift away from its intended location, the anchor helps protect it by securing its spot and not letting it drift too far away.
When you think about it, some of our habits serve as anchors for us. When we start to drift away from where we want to be, there are certain habits you can start doing that will almost immediately help bring you back to your center and to your intended direction.
Activities or Practices That Help Anchor Us
One of my anchor habits is yoga. If I maintain a regular yoga practice of at least once a week (twice or more times per week is better, and daily is ideal), then it is much easier for me to maintain my other health and fitness habits of eating more vegetables, drinking eight or more glasses of water per day, maintaining a healthy weight, and relaxing more and being present in the moment. When I stop doing yoga, I tend to drift out to sea a bit, my healthy eating habits start to slip, and I feel more stressed and less like myself.
Anchor Habits At Home
Another example of an anchor habit that we often see in the home is keeping a clean sink. You will find if you are able to keep your sink clean, meaning the dishes are all washed and put away or in the dishwasher, it is easier to keep the rest of your house clean. Once a few dishes start to stack up on your sink or counter, it can be easy to begin to drift and before you know it, you have a much larger mess. Making the bed is another example. If you have the habit of making your bed every day, it’s easier to stay on track and anchored with the rest of your room.
Anchor Habits At Work
When I’m at work, my anchor habit is keeping my email inbox clean. I have a very simple system for email. After I have read a message and have responded, or if the message doesn’t require any action, I move it to a folder I created and labeled as “Processed”. I have tried complex email sorting systems but this is simple and effective. With email search capabilities, it isn’t difficult to find old messages if I need them again. In the meantime, my inbox is cleaner and feels less overwhelming. Plus, I don’t have to waste time thinking about where something should be filed, and when I need something, I use the search bar instead of looking in multiple folders. This system works really well for me, but occasionally, I’ll get busy and forget to clean out my inbox. After a few days, I start to feel stressed and overwhelmed about my priorities for the day and feel more scattered overall. I might miss appointments, project deadlines, or responding to someone important. To get back on track and resume control, I know I need to spend some time getting my email caught up.
Anchor Habits for Good Relationships
Your relationships can also have anchor habits. For me, it’s making sure I have a date night scheduled with my husband and time scheduled for our weekly meeting to review our schedules, finances, priorities, and meal plan. Having a date night allows us to stay connected, have fun together, and de-stress, even when there are other plans or obligations we need to keep. Taking an hour together on Sunday night for our weekly meeting helps us be a team on important issues and we are more in charge of our direction for the week.
Anchor Habits for Your Finances
Taking a few minutes to balance my checkbook and review my accounts helps me stay on track with my finances. I’m not a numbers person so I have learned that I need to be very diligent in knowing where I stand at any given moment so I can stay on track with my savings and life experience goals. My anchor habit is reviewing my accounts on a weekly basis and making adjustments as needed.
Why It Helps To Identify Your Anchors
You might not have my same challenges with email or have the need to go to yoga. For you, it may be that you need to keep a clean desk, practice meditation, or attend a church service. Whatever your anchors are, it helps to identify them specifically.
All of us start to drift off course sometimes. We have busy lives that can be filled with work and family obligations, or maybe we take a business trip or vacation, get sick for a few days, or simply forget to step back into a routine immediately upon our return. Whatever the reason, the main thing is that you want to get back on track with your goals and habits as soon as you can.
Knowing and understanding your anchor habits can help you stop drifting off course and get back on track quickly.
What habits do you do that help ground you and lead to following other good habits? What are your anchor habits? Here’s what you can do:
- Make a list of your top three to five anchor habits and post it on your bulletin board or save it in a place where you can reference it when you feel like you need a boost.
- Notice when you stop doing your anchor habits for even a day as it can be a sign that something is going on. Maybe you’re trying to do to take on too much, are feeling down, or aren’t being in the present moment. Take a minute to “check in” with yourself to understand what is going on.
- Take the First Step When You Know You’re Off Track: When you find yourself off track, remember, sometimes you just need to take the first step, focus on your anchor habits. Go to yoga, clean your sink, or file your email. These little steps are sometimes all we need to get back on track.
Anchor Habits Can Help You Keep New Habits
Anchor habits can be extremely powerful in getting us where we want to be with our lives. Anchor habits can also be helpful when we’re trying to keep new habits. If you pair a new habit with a solid anchor habit, it can often be easier to make that habit permanent as well.
What are your anchor habits? What has been effective for you? I’d love to hear from you, share your thoughts in the comments below.