The Habit of Forming Habits

Image may contain: text“I’ll figure it out…”

“It is what it is…” or “It was what it was”

If I was going to have a tombstone, these would be the engravings. Why? Because I have always thrived on this. Taking a gleeful delight, almost, in putting myself to the test. Knowing that I can get myself out of any squeeze.

You know. The ones that I make for myself.

Regardless of what life throws at me, I can fix it. I can take care of it. Reacting. Always.

But what if there was a different way. A revolutionary way. To be proactive instead of reactive.

To plan.

To think ahead.

To not let life happen to you but to shine a light on the path and make a map to get where you want to go.

Over the past month, I have been kind of obsessed with a book (I know that’s a shocker considering my bibliophile tendencies). The book is Atomic Habits and the author is James Clear.

This book for me has been a game-changer. A book about making small changes that can blow up your life and how you do things.

Clear’s premise is that it’s not you that keeps you from getting to your goals. It’s your planning (or lack thereof in my case) and your process that keeps you from where you want to be.

Process. A series of actions or steps taken to achieve a particular end.

You know. That thing that we don’t really think about when setting goals. We think about the destination but not the map of how to get there.

I’ve always been really good at setting goals. But I’m not always good at the follow-through. I try. Good Lord, I try but if things aren’t happening quickly then I am bound to give up,

This author showed me that I’m not alone in this. Most people are built this way. But if we focus on the little victories, in the day-to-day, we can reach our goals if the process is good.

I finally realized that one of the ways I could build good habits is to compete with myself. Anybody who knows me knows that I am competitive and my most competent adversary is…well…me.

If I can continually beat myself, I will continually improve. And even if that improvement is 1%, it is still an improvement.

So I made it easy, obvious, attractive and satisfying ( the laws of habit building). I bought a weekly tracking log from Amazon, listed several habits I want to grow and, like the elementary school teacher I am, put it on the refrigerator for all to see.

Checkmarks on my tracking form mean that I built a streak of good habits. And my habits (currently) are as follows:

Exercise/walk the dogs
100 fl. oz of water
Pray/Meditate
Don’t eat after 7 PM
Write for Happy Fix (Monday and Wednesday)
Track weight
Track meals
Look at financial transactions every day.

It’s a fairly shortlist and the only person I’m accountable to is myself. But since I’m the person who I spend the most time with, it seems to be working. Maybe it means I’m finally valuing the opinion of me that matters most. Mine.

Self-Care is a sticky wicket. Sometimes we think it means pampering yourself. It can. But sometimes it means challenging yourself to be the person you know you can be. To push yourself. To ensure that you don’t leave anything on the table.

Because the world needs the best you have to offer. And only you know who that you is. And only you can map the journey.