Habits can be a wonderful thing! For example, they can help you to:
- make sure your important tasks get done
- estimate your time better and/or
- create order in an otherwise chaotic life.
Sure, some people may find habits too confining and rigid; however, there is something comforting about knowing for the first hour of a workday, I know exactly what I’ll be doing!
There are lots of different ways people integrate habits into their lives. You might have a routine you go through when you get up in the morning, when you prepare for a big meeting or start a new project or when you’re wrapping up the day at work.
A habit is defined as:
“a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.”
The experts say that it takes at least 21-days of consistent use for something to actually become a habit. As you know, there are some habits that are easier to do than others.
Some valuable habits, especially during the crazy time we’re in right now, are mediation, exercising, eating well, getting out in nature, limiting your exposure to the news, removing toxic people from your lives, etc.
The definition above says that a habit is “hard to give up”. Why would that be? Most likely because it is something ingrained in your life process and it works really well. For example, if you mediate every morning for 10-minutes first thing every day and you discover on those days you don’t do this, you are more easily flustered and annoyed, then you would probably go right back to meditating the next day. Right? That’s what I would anticipate would happen.
However, when I have recently talked with people about certain habits that had worked really well from them (in e.g. mediating, brain dumps (find out about a brain dump in my “Keep it Simple” newsletter), keeping a gratitude journal) — ”Oh, I used to do that all the time.”
What’s really interesting is often the next thing out of his/her mouth is “Gee, I wonder why I don’t do that anymore…”
What a great question! Why do you suppose you don’t do <put the great habit here> anymore? My guess is that it’s just like anything else in your life. When the time slot is ‘booked’ (figuratively in your routine or literally on your calendar) for a particular activity, let’s say, starting each day with a brain-dump, then that’s what you do immediately when you sit down at your desk to start your day. When the time slot is not booked, that time easily gets used by one of the other million tasks you have on your plate! Before too long, starting your day with a brain-dump to clear your head and set your priorities becomes a thing of the past.
What’s fantastic about questioning why you stopped incorporating a particular habit (or multiple habits) into your life, is that now you have a choice based on awareness. Simply being aware of what it feels like without this habit in your life, can help you decide
- your life is just fine without that habit or
- you want to restart this habit because your life was <fill in the blank – e.g., better, more productive, calmer> when it was part of your routine.
If you realized you miss this habit and would like to restart it, here are a few questions to get you started:
- How did you originally start this habit?
- Can you use your calendar to schedule this habit?
- Do you need an accountability partner
- What things will get in your way of restarting this habit? How can you prevent them from derailing your progress?
- What are the specific benefits, to me, of restarting this habit? How can I use these benefits to motivate me to get this habit restarted?
Restarting a habit can be easy or difficult. If it’s a habit you KNOW really works for you, then even if it takes time and energy to re-embed it into your life, you can be sure it will be worth it!
I’m reminded of this quote by Aristotle: