Making anything a habit isn’t easy – just repeat something often and soon you have a habit.
I’m not talking about booze, cigarettes or bad behaviour. I’m talking about the mundane, routine and inane parts of our life. Some can be zen-like …. like folding towels some special was, as if it matters. OF COURSE it matters, but only to the folder.
Why that habit?
Why any other?
Because we like predictable, we like routine, we like not having to think about things – because life seems easier that way. It is, until those habits pull us so hard back into our seats and our spots that reach change is imprisoned in the starting blocks because there is no room for it. Which is ridiculous. We all have the same 24 hours every day – all the time we need.
There is no prison for over-limit bagel consumption, because if there was I’d be locked up.
Every time I change something, how I live or the process of how I work – there is somebody who will take issue with it. Somebody won’t understand, somebody will ask questions about things I choose not to discuss. Harshest of the critics is me.
Do you find that too? Deciding to change is easy. Implementing is incredibly difficult. Not because any task is too hard or the reason is too difficult to understand. It is ingrained habit that is the culprit. Overcoming inertia is easy, overcoming habit is hard.
Habits in daily routine, how we eat or exercise (if and when we do), what we eat, how we sleep (how much and how well) are part of this wellness equation too. I’ve had some recent experience, again, making changes in my eat-exercise-sleep dynamic with some fresh-feeling success. It isn’t dieting, isn’t working with a trainer and it isn’t without slippage into old habits. Was it really those freshly baked still-warm bagels in the grocery store on Saturday, or was it that I placed myself in that part of the store? Old habits kicked in, a purchase was made and eating took place . . .
My point is not confession of bagel eating. My point is that it wasn’t a deliberate act – because it was the opposite of everything I’ve been trying to do lately. I don’t believe I am lost or a lost cause because of it – but recognize that urge to eat things with wheat and sugar and salt in them is very powerful. Still, my scale this morning suggests I managed to put that incident behind me.
Going to the gym, eating sensibly, getting good sleep – these tri-fecta issues are easy to self-monitor with discipline. We can forgive backsliding if we get back on track. Which leads me to my real point …
I have been changing other habits – work habits, daily routine habits, business-practice habits, behaviour habits, e-mail writing habits, conversational habits and thought habits – and every morning presents another backsliding, avoidance and outright denial opportunity.
I make lists and check them off.
I make new lists with fewer items.
I make revised short lists with the sequence changed.
Each time I try a different way, I get a slightly different but better result.
My solution is simple and does not involve checking ‘bagel production times’ at the store so I can avoid ‘optimal warm bagel-hours’.
My solution is not yet found. My theory is not proven. My performance continues to fail, but I seem to be failing smaller. Failing less frequently. Slipping off the trail a little less each day. I don’t know if there is a definitive book on how to implement change – but if there is I am sure it would say, ‘a little progress every day goes a long way’.
column written/ published from Calgary
morning walk: 6C/42F, clear sky, calm but chilly just before sunrise, holiday-quiet roads, no train rumbles – just man and dog walking fast (all that time on the treadmill is paying off) and very steady. September is here, leaves are green – another perfect day in paradise!
I believe happiness is a choice and my experience has shown me that simply choosing happiness first thing in the morning guarantees a lot of attacks attempting to take that happiness down. So, now I choose happiness with a full dose of commitment attached to it. That way I can maintain it throughout the whole day. It's a jungle out there. GW, Bon Wier, Tx.
If you liked any Musing column, it would mean a lot to me if you would respond. Comments are welcome, so please contribute to the discussion. To reply, use: firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also connect with me on LinkedIn . You can sign up your friends here at MarkMusing.com . This site is updated daily, each column is retained in the archive when the next day's column is loaded ...