Life Habits: Days 1–7

My first week settling in to a new routine was exciting, exhausting, encouraging, and full of stumbles along the way.

It turns out, building new habits is difficult, even for someone as neurotic as myself. I am currently trying out an app called Productive, but I might be making a change soon due to some personal preferences on the UI and data.

Productive App (not my data)

I’m logging the 5 habits I want to develop so they become second-nature over time:

Reading
Writing
Meditating
Exercise
Programming

Last week, my statistics for the habits I’m tracking were:

  • Monday: 5/5
  • Tuesday: 5/5
  • Wednesday: 4/5
  • Thursday: 4/5
  • Friday: 2/5
  • Saturday: 1/5
  • Sunday: 1/5

The trend is pretty obvious — I started out hot and strong, and as the week progressed my consistency eroded.

By Thursday I was really struggling — I was so tired that I could barely get out of bed in the morning, and went to the gym at night as a result. By Friday I was running on fumes and skipped my workout entirely.

Overall though, I’m optimistic about the first week of results. I hit 80% of my target on 4/7 days, so filling the gap should come over time as the patterns are engrained.


Headspace App

I think I’m going to fall in love with meditation. It meshes well with my high anxiety and general love for self-awareness. Headspace is an amazing tool, getting beginners like myself acclimated at a great pace, and it’s helped me look forward to each short session.


Learning to program in Python is also really interesting. In my sophomore year at Northwestern, I took a computer science course where the primary language was Racket. It felt clunkier and less intuitive, and I got discouraged pretty quickly. The language wasn’t tremendously hard, but it required more effort than I was ready to commit. So far, Python seems more straightforward and I’m progressing at a stead clip on Codeacademy — now 28% done with the course after only a few relatively short sessions. The more I complete, the more I get excited about progressing. Codeacademy has some nice gamified components which also keep motivation high.

Codeacademy

To adjust course, I’m going to scale back from weightlifting 6x per week to 4x per week. “High School Jake” could handle 6–8 workouts in a week, but “Post-College Jake” still needs to ramp up gradually before I get there. I think this will help my energy levels throughout the week so I’m not burned by Thursday/Friday.

I’ve also added some short runs & cardio on the off days — not because I think I need (or even should) add cardio at this point, but because my habit of exercising every day necessitates it, and I might as well fill that gap with cardio (which I’ve always loathed). It’s also the end of summer and Lake Michigan is gorgeous, so that alone is enough reason to run outside.

My Dashboard — I tabulated my week of groceries all on one day to see if I will hit my weekly goal of ~16,000 calories. I’m still under, which I assume will take care of itself, but the app is currently worried that I will be gaining weight at a rate of 20.7lbs per WEEK!

This weekend I took a more granular look at my diet and it turns out I was eating way too little food last week to sustain my energy levels. I added a lot more calories to my weekly consumption using MyNetDiary, which should ensure I have energy throughout the day and don’t crash in the weight room. It also showed me the app is concerned for my health and safety. Who knew that’s a feature worth developing?


While most of the works gets done in the daily grind, it’s important to take frequent but brief steps back to asses, reflect, and make adjustments as needed. On Sundays, I do a series of 3 Check-Ins:

  • Personal Check-In: An opportunity for me to plan upcoming goals, to-do’s and priorities for the week, as well as plan for any major bills coming down the pipeline. The real magic in this is the non-tangible check-ins — the personal happiness & wellness, writing, reading, fitness, and reflection on gratitude for others. I started this in January and it’s been really helpful for providing a space to remind myself of important areas of focus as well as self-assess along the way. Keeping it top of mind on a regular basis eventually leads to behavior change & habit forming, and it’s already changed the way I think on a weekly basis.
  • Financial Check-In: Every week I check my Mint account to update the ledger of expense from the week. Then I check my budgets to see how I’m doing relative to those budgets. Between senior year, graduation, and moving, my spending has been outrageous, so mostly it’s just making sure I have enough cash-flow to keep me on top of things. Moving forward I’ll start incorporating predicted vs. actual budgeting & adjustments, saving, investing, and long-term planning into my weekly checks.
  • Fitness Check-In: As a part of my weekly check-ins, I update this spreadsheet on my weight, which auto-calculates an adjusted weight-loss per week and will. I’ve also built out an online workout log so I can track progress in the gym each week and make sure I’m hitting the total volume I target each week.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit” — Aristotle

I’m getting into a habit of trying to mold everything I do into a habit. (See what I did there, terribly?) I’ve always found that you see the most results at the intersection between challenge and consistency, so why not build that every aspect of life?

In just a week I’m seeing such noticeable changes already. Excited to keep up the progress, and we’ll see if this coming week is any better than the last (it will be!).