Today’s a tough one for many. How many times have we thought about a habit or hobby we’d like to introduce, considered it for a bit, vowed to do it every day, and then forgotten about it completely? Classic promises to ourselves happen all the time, but especially around January 1st. Promising to spend more time with family. Swearing to get better grades. Being absolutely certain that you’re going to start Crossfit.
You see, the issue isn’t the habit you’re choosing. You can do anything! Yes, anything. The issue is the way you’re choosing the habit. If I think to myself, “I’m going to get really good at physics,” but never read a single physics book or take a single physics class or watch a single video about physics, I will undoubtedly fail.
Obviously, you don’t have to take a physics class to begin your first novel, but my point is, the habits are in the action plan. Think of it like an itinerary: you think about what you’d like to do, do some research on how to do it and where, and set a date and time. For everything on your trip.
Except the catch is, you aren’t planning a vacation; you’re planning a new habit. When I started yoga, I didn’t gracefully incorporate it into my life daily and at the same time and in the same place! When I had time, I’d do a few clumsy stretches I only half understood. It didn’t feel like I was doing it right, and I didn’t even have a mat at first! So finally, I resolved to learn yoga the right way. (If you’d like a more detailed post about my yoga practice, I’d be happy to write one.)
I decided that I wanted to devote thirty minutes of yoga in the evenings for four days out of a week. Why not every day? Often, if we fall off the habit track once, it can be discouraging. We may not want to get up and try it again because we’ve already failed. Four days out of a week? It’s more doable and leaves forgiveness for those days we can’t fit in the new habit.
I also inserted an insurance policy of sorts by telling my family and friends about it. When I saw them, they would ask me about my practice, and nobody wants to be asked about something they never really started in the first place . . .
So for that thirty minutes, I didn’t just fumble around anymore. I found instructional videos that showed proper form, breathing, and balance. I went to a class or two to pick up more tools and make certain I was doing the movements properly. I made playlists, finally got a mat (plus a block and strap once I really got into it), and bought leggings designed specifically for stretching. I know, obsessive, right?
But I did that all over the course of a year. Another issue we have when we start habits is expecting them to become second-nature in a two-week period (sometimes less if we’re extra impatient). Starting a business, cooking whole foods, getting straight A’s . . . these are not things that can happen in the blink of an eye. You can’t wingardium leviosa your intentions into existence, although that would be nice, wouldn’t it?
so, let’s recap:
- habits are in the action plan
- what, where, how, when?
- insurance policy
- do it properly
- things take time
comment below and tell me the habit you’d like to adopt or one you worked very hard to earn.