The reality of slipping into bad habits and crawling your way back
Some people are naturally inclined to form good habits. They wake with the morning sun and are ready to start their productive and healthy days. They shy away from binge-watching an entire series in a single weekend or consuming a whole cake in one sitting. They exercise because they enjoy it. Life seems effortless when you have all these good habits to fall back on.
And then there is the rest of us. We are trying with all of our might to inflict some discipline into our lives. Putting all of our efforts to keep one good habit going. Whether it’s morning meditation or the hour you’ve set aside for writing in the afternoon, every good choice seems to be a milestone to celebrate.
My husband has always been the more disciplined one out of the two of us. He seemed to be formed out of good habits. It was a characteristic I fell in love with when we first met. He brushes it off as a skill he picked up as part of his mandatory army service, but perhaps he was like this all along. He would get up early, work a day job and then go to school at night. All while eating a healthy and balanced diet which he cooked for himself.
When we moved in together, his discipline and good routine worked their magic on me. We made good habits together. Ones I hardly managed to keep for a week before he entered my life were now our mutual normal. We went to the gym five times a week; he cooked us healthy food to eat, we meditated in the morning and in the evenings before bed we’d read and journal. Instead of beating myself up about being fat and lazy, I started to praise myself, really believing that there was a change happening in my DNA. “People with good habits aren’t born,” I’d think to myself, “they are made!”
It didn’t take long for me to learn an unfortunate truth though; bad habits will trump the good ones no matter how strong one-persons discipline is. He used to wake up at 5 AM without an alarm and be ready to start the day. I began to beg for morning cuddles, not wanting his warmth to escape the bed. “Just 5 minutes more,” I’d coo, and he so lovingly obliged. 5 AM crept away from us so quickly that it now looks like an afterthought. Now with both alarms blazing he still gets up earlier than me, but because he has no choice.
The morning cuddles have morphed into sleeping-in and skipping morning yoga. Meditation got replaced by re-runs of Seinfeld, and instead of makings salads and soups for dinner, we’ve resorted to quick carb fixes like pasta and pizzas in the oven. We both know what page we’re on, justifying to one another that we are taking a break and letting ourselves rest, but knowing full well that we’ve let the bad habits creep in and run our schedule.
Tomorrow I keep repeating to myself when I get home from work and throw the pre-made ravioli in the pot of boiling water. Tomorrow I’ll make a better effort to get us back on track. But we all know that tomorrow never magically transforms itself into doing the habits that come harder than the easier ones. So, I’ve started thinking of what we were doing a year ago that we are no longer implementing today so that we can hopefully go back to living a more balanced and healthy lifestyle.
1. It’s easier when you’re in it together
Together is much easier than alone. Whether you have a stranger from online holding you accountable or your significant other, having someone else in the game makes the game easier. I know for a fact that when my husband and I both set a goal, we work twice as hard to achieve it. So, grab a running buddy or make a pact with someone about the new habit you want to form, and I bet you’ll find it harder to fail together.
2. Keep a tracker
I’ve kept a Bullet Journal for many years now. It’s a great way to stay organized, and I love how customizable it is, but the best use that’s come out of it for me is the idea of keeping a habit tracker. I’ll list out all the days of the month + the habit that I want to follow, and I track visually with a checkmark what I’ve done. Keeping a visual record cuts out the lies. When you can visually see whether you’ve read every day or taken a run, there’s no story in your head about how recently you’ve accomplished the habit you want to be having daily/weekly.
3. Cut out the time suck activities
Certain things are great in small moderation but become a huge time suck the moment you allow yourself to do them in excess. For me, TV and Instagram are the culprits. I’m implementing a no TV rule on weeknights so that I don’t fall into the trap of mindlessly watching re-runs anymore. You’ll find better uses for your time once you eliminate the major distractions. Free time allows for more productive time and better habits.
4. Make it fun
Good habits tend to get a bad rep because they take more effort to establish, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun. Adding a twist to the habits that make you sigh will help you feel better about getting them done. So, put your creative thinking hat on and try to make the most of the habit that you are trying to accomplish for the day.
Let’s collectively stop saving things for tomorrow that we want to do today!