Life Habits: Days 37–51

Building habits through adversity

Days 37–44

Habits are built through consistency, and right now the only consistent part of my life is fluctuation.

Two weeks ago, I noted that my habit-tracking sometimes felt more like a daily to-do list than an ingrained routine operating on auto-pilot.

I resolved to make my schedule a priority, hitting my habits at the right time, in the right order, every day.

For the first few days, I was great.

  • Monday: 5/5
  • Tuesday: 5/5

Then, Wednesday came and I drove to the airport to pick up my girlfriend at 5:00am. Habit-building took a back-seat (heh, see the pun?)

  • Wednesday: 3/5
O’Hare is definitely NOT the “Best Airport in North America.”

Ok, no problem. Tomorrow is Thursday, and I’ll back on track.

  • Thursday: 5/5

Thursday night, I went to bed excited. I was largely sticking to my routine, and this was shaping up to be a great week.

Then a friend called me crying at 12:30am. I jumped in my car so I could help, and we stayed up for a few hours. My sleep schedule and routine the next day were completely off.

Once again, habit-building took a back-seat.

  • Friday: 2/5

I knew I made the right decision, but I still felt guilty about missing a good chunk of my habits.

Saturday only compounded this feeling. Like the previous week, I completely skipped my habits in order to spend the day with friends. In addition, my roommates and I hosted a party that night for Homecoming, so any sense of rhythm was thrown out the window.

This was not the week for habit-building.

  • Saturday: 0/5

I made it a priority to start this week out strong, and hit everything on Sunday.

  • Sunday: 4/5

At the conclusion of Days 37–44, my week looked like this:

  • Monday: 5/5
  • Tuesday: 5/5
  • Wednesday: 3/5
  • Thursday: 5/5
  • Friday: 2/5
  • Saturday: 0/5
  • Sunday: 4/5

I shouldn’t feel any guilt at all for missing so much of my habits.

One day, a completely reasonable deviation — the airport pick-up — required that I miss my morning routines.

Another day, I dropped everything to help a friend in need.

And Saturday — yes, I skipped good habits for fun and laziness, but a unique occasion like Homecoming necessitates that kind of break from strict routine.

And yet, despite the justifications, I still feel annoyed.

I want to be better.

I don’t want to miss these because of a few bumps in the road.

My initial goal was to institute a few easy, flexible habits I could maintain on a regular schedule — and then move them around, if needed. For the most part, this is exactly what happens.

And yet… I was less than perfect.

Days 45–51

Ok — so Days 45–51 would be better right?

Nope.

Last week, my habits got even worse:

  • Monday: 5/5
  • Tuesday: 4/5
  • Wednesday: 1/5
  • Thursday: 1/5
  • Friday: 2/5
  • Saturday: 0/5
  • Sunday: 1/5

Quibbl ramped up hard with several long nights of work, and I felt completely drained from the lack of sleep.

In addition, balancing time with friends and loved ones back in Chicago has been more difficult than I anticipated.

Between habit building, my 9–5 job, Quibbl, and personal relationships, I was juggling too much and dropping balls along the way.

Juggling too much can lead to bad results.

Work & Quibbl were exhausting, and my frustration over not hitting my goals (combined with the anxiety of missing more each day) was leaving me burned out.

At a certain point — I gave up.

I stopped prioritizing my habit-building for the week.

On one hand, I am extremely frustrated. I don’t like pulling the rip-cord on personal commitments. I kept thinking to myself:

“This was exactly how I dropped healthy habits in the past — when things get too stressful, I cut out the ‘healthy’ and stick to comfort.”

That thought started to haunt me, and I felt a lot of self-blame.

On the other hand, this is a sign that the “tunnel vision on habit-building” phase I experienced at the end of the summer isn’t sustainable.

I need to adjust my expectations, adjust my workload, or both.

I need to remind myself that in the short-term, I have to do my best to hit habits.

I need to remind myself that its OK to be imperfect.

In the long-run, the ability to deal with life’s challenges and still return to the process is more important than “how many 5/5’s did you hit this week?”

As long as I’m trending upward, that’s what matters.

I need to practice micro-speed in the moment — striving for excellence each and every day.

I need to practice maco-patience in the long-run — accepting that I won’t be get to 100% in the first 90 days. These are LIFE habits, so I have my whole life to build them.

It’s going to be messy, inconsistent, and chaotic at times to get there.

But as along as I’m trending upwards, that’s what matters.

In the meantime, I am going to audit my habit-building goals and decide how best to prioritize moving forward.

I think I would rather cut down to 3 or 4 habits and do those consistently than shoot for 5 habits and hit each at 70%. If/when I master those 3–4, then I can start to layer in additional habits.

Until then… I’ll keep building.

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