Snapping my habits like a kitkat...
I've been meaning to write this blog for a while now but for one reason or another time has got away from me. I was going through the notes on my phone and found a brainstorm for this blog post and just decided now was the time- the message is still as relevant now as it was then.
It's all about dryanuary- another of those months to change, taking advantage of the post Christmas/post new year urge for change that everyone feels. I don't usually succumb to that feeling except in a vague, guilt ridden kind of way but this year I did- not because I felt that urge for change but because frankly I wanted to know if I could go a whole month without a glass of wine or the handy crutch of social lubrication.
Long story short I didn't actually manage it- I had two nights ‘off’ although I never went crazy. That's not the point of this blog though, it’s not the point I wanted to make. What Dryanuary made me realise is about the addictive and sometimes destructive nature of habits. I want to be clear that habits and routines are not the same thing, it's not about getting up at the same time every day or always sleeping on the left side of the bed. It's about those little things we do, the things that started as a one-off that became a constant in our lives- the likelihood is you don't notice them anymore, that you never review them or critique them, that you never gauge whether they actually add value to your life.
For a lot of us a glass of wine of an evening is a habit- we don't need it, we do enjoy it but we'd survive without it. I imagine a lot of us do it on autopilot and that's not always a bad thing. However, choosing to consciously stop something really makes you think about why you were doing it in the first place.
Once I'd started thinking about habits I couldn't stop, I started noticing all the things I did because I'd always done them and I found there were 3 types:
· the habits that added value to my life
· the habits that I did because I'd always done them and I didn't know why
· the habits that I did a certain way because that's the way they had always been done
It was the last 2 categories that worried me the most- doing things for no reason seemed pointless and doing things in a- potentially- unproductive way seemed like a waste. So I did a review, I logged my activities over a week and split any reoccurring habits into groups.
First, I looked at the ones I didn't seem to know the reason for- were these habits a product of time? of laziness? or was there an underlying value to them? I'll be honest, a lot of them served no purpose in my life and so I decided to get rid- like a decluttering of my life routine! For me this included mindlessly checking facebook (not adding value or reading content but just scrolling without absorbing what I was looking at).
Next, I looked at the repetitive habits that I'd always done a certain way. Some of these habits had been ingrained over time such as reading before I went to bed (which always kept me awake longer than I should have been). With habits like these I found it easy to justify why I did them like that- it felt safe, it felt comforting. I really had to force myself to look for the best way to do these tasks; not the most familiar way. I found this hard and a long process but worthwhile as I saved time in some areas and added overall efficiencies in others.
I should point out that these weren't just work habits but personal ones too- like a life review and overhaul. Actually now I've said that out loud it kind of feels like I did succumb to the January 1st urge for change! Well, whatever the reason I think I've found a new habit to form- habitanuary.
I should probably add trademarking that catchy name to my to do list!