May was National Walking Month in the UK, so I decided to commit to walking during my lunchtimes and spending weekends doing long walks around places I hadn’t visited in London.
So, how did it go?
Well it’s the end of the month and the beginning of a new one, and I’m not even sure how it went, but I’m also feeling indifferent about whether this habit really mattered. I walk to and from work daily regardless, which comes to an hour in total. I think I left the office at lunchtimes most days. In hindsight I wish I’d tracked how many days I successfully did this so I could at least write this post with some accuracy!
If I’m being perfectly honest with myself, I’ve lost a bit of interest in my new habit every month challenge. Or I’ve picked a habit I wasn’t that interested in.
What I learnt in the process:
1. Align your habits with your goals
May’s habit was a last-minute choice and admittedly, hinged primarily on the pressure I’ve put on myself to make sure I do a monthly write-up on my habit challenges. I had visions of a post with cute scenery from my walks in areas of London I’ve never visited or being able to say that I feel more mindful from daily lunchtime walks etcetcetc...
Committing to walking at lunch was a whimsical decision to say the least. It was a nice idea, but I found myself disengaging with it within the first week. It did get me thinking however about the goals I set at the beginning of the year and wondering why I haven’t picked many habit challenges that set me up to achieve them.
Big lesson learnt: habits should help you reach your goals or you won’t be as committed to it. For example, if one of your goals is to write a book, introduce a habit where you start writing 200 words every week and work up from there.
2. Choose habits that work with the seasons and not against them
On most days, I didn’t even really think about whether to leave the office or not at lunchtime. It was almost automatic. I wanted to be outside, because the sun was shining. The sun only shines for a few days a year in the UK so you have to capitalise on those days.
Often we’ll force ourselves to work against the seasons e.g. in the dead of winter, I’ll tell myself I need to be at the gym for 6am so I can stuff myself during Christmas party season in a guilt-free manner, when all I really want to do is stay curled up in bed where it’s warm. My snooze button gets a lot of action around that time and those grand delusions of looking shit-hot at Christmas fall by the wayside very quickly too.
Physiologically, we’re meant to store a bit of extra fat on us at winter because it’s cold and that layer keeps us warm. My point is that instead of fighting against the seasons and what your body naturally craves or wants to do, work with the seasons in the same way our ancestors did. We’ve stopped relying on nature to tell us when to do things because we don’t need to e.g. electricity which means we can go to the gym at 6am if we want to, but it doesn’t mean we have to. I’m not saying stop exercising entirely, but there’s a reason why it’s difficult to gym in the mornings during winter and it’s worth paying attention to that.
What habit am I taking on in June? Over the past few months, I’ve lost sight of the goals I set at the beginning of the year. I’ve generally found the periods of life where I meditate regularly, I tend to be my most focused. June = month of meditation.