Mise-en-place

Most of my habits start from a place of pain or frustration. For example, I was of tired of seeing an Army uniform thrown on the floor of my bedroom—and I knew that yelling at my husband to put it “somewhere else” wasn’t going to help. It was only solved when I gave him a place to put his uniform that he liked and we worked on creating that habit together.

Whether you’re trying to grow a new habit or maintain an old one, it will be greatly helped by a concept you probably already know about: mise-en-place. It’s a French term that means “everything in its place” and usually applies to chefs trying to cook fast in a kitchen. If all their ingredients and spices are knives are set out, they will be ready to make their meal with speed.

Back to that uniform—we have a chair in the corner of our bedroom and now I leave it clear as a staging area for my husband’s physical training clothes and a place for his uniform in between washes and wears. Voila!

Often, if I’m trying to build a habit and it’s not working, it’s not from lack of willpower. It’s from lack of an easy system.

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As an Army chaplain wife, I have my own uniform of sorts … pins that I need to remember to wear to official events, such as monthly spouse coffees, spouse trainings, ceremonies, etc. I am embarrassed how often I forget. A spouse of a senior chaplain solved my problem when she suggested I just always leave them in my purse. (Why didn’t I think of that?)

I found a little jewelry pouch, put them in my clutch, and now I’ll always have them when I need them. Because when I’m scrambling to give instructions to a babysitter, put on my nice shoes, and say goodbye to my kids, these pins are the last thing I’m thinking about.

What habit are you trying to build that could be helped by putting the right thing in the right place? Your Bible, journal, and pen on your nightstand? A new face cleanser on the counter and in the shower? Workout weights and a mat set out in the living room the night before?