Preparing to adopt a habit
There are many habits I wish I had. More times than I can count, I have tried to get up early. I faithfully set my alarm for some crack-of-dawn time that leaves me with a reasonable amount of sleep, but gives me time to myself before I have to get ready for work.
Almost as many times, my alarm goes off, I hit snooze, it goes off again, I hit snooze again, until either it or I gives up. When it goes off, I keep sleeping. When I give up, I turn off the alarm, and keep sleeping.
When I lived near to (and worked at) a climbing gym, I never struggled to get regular exercise; the greater struggle was, at times, to take a day off from climbing. Since both my occupation and location has changed, I get a small fraction of the exercise I once had. more
I would love to get into powerlifting (the only reason I would ever join a real gym) but alas, no gym within twenty minutes of my apartment has a squat rack, or lets you drop weights.
I’ve never been much of a cook. I also don’t eat particularly healthy, but like everyone, I wish I ate healthier food more often for less money. I’m a big fan of the Paleo-ish diet, for a number of reasons. (The “ish” refers to how rigidly I follow the proscribed food choices.)
I eat a healthy breakfast, but that’s because if I don’t, I’m starved by 10am. I eat sweet potatoes more often than I once did. I enjoy Chipotle that much more, knowing that food is good for me. I eat a little less bread than I once did. This is about how much my eating has changed with the knowledge of what food is good for me, and what food is bad for me.
Lots of failure, or a little success?
Compare these two statements:
I have had far more “failures” than I have had “successes”.
I have had clear instances where I have broken from habit and adopted (briefly) the changes I want to have.
Those two sentences say the same thing.
Right now I am preparing to adopt the above habits.
- I’ve begun an extremely brief (ten minutes a day) daily workout plan.
- I still try to set my alarm early, and sometimes I wake up on time feeling great.
- I am slowly and with great difficulty learning to cook a variety of healthy meals.
It is safe to fail
Habits start out as delicate things. I’m not willing to even call a pattern of mine a habit until it’s so entrenched I’m in no danger of losing it. If I call a bunch of little attempts and goals “habits”, I have labeled myself “someone who is bad at forming habits.”
If I take a step back and try to learn how to build habits, I can freely engage in “habit-building behaviors” without fear of failure. If a habit does not stick, I still learned something, and I can apply it to my next endeavors.
The potential payoff is enormous, and the potential harm is minimal. I’m not putting my self-worth on the line.
What habits are you trying to build, and how do you feel when it does not go according to plan?