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8 Steps to Change Your Life

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Here's a typical Monday morning summer conversation at my house:

Me: Uh, let's see. This week is Girl Scout Camp. So you need to pack a lunch. And a swimsuit. And a towel. Oh wait, you have a BBQ today, so no lunch but you do need to bring -- oh, darn. We're supposed to bring dessert. How fast can we make Rice Krispie treats?

Fiona: Can't we just buy something on the way? What time does camp start?

Me: I think 9:30. But I have a meeting at 9:00. I might drop you off early.

Fiona: I think that's against the rules. They gave us a big rule book, you know. Who's driving me home?

Me: Uh. Hmm. I'll check the schedule and call Debbie so she can text her daughter, who'll tell you.

Fiona: Cell phones aren't allowed at Girl Scout Camp.

Me: Oh yeah. That's why we love it.

There is so much to love about summer, but let's be real: The lack of routine can be a little hellish. With summer upon us, the importance of habit and routine is even more prescient.

Not every summer day has to be as chaotic as a Monday at my house. In fact, I've actually found summer to be the perfect time to practice getting into good habits and routines. Creating habits is a skill, just like learning a new sport, and when we practice, we get better. Here are eight research-based steps for creating new routines.

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The key to successfully changing your life in a summer? Practice. Practice creating new habits by mastering one ridiculously easy behavior at a time, slowly making them automatic.

Here is the really good news: Your good habits are contagious, highly likely to spread to your friends, your family, and especially your children. So consider that good night's sleep a contribution to the greater good.

© 2012 Christine Carter, Ph.D.

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