Habits. Something I’m constantly writing about and thinking about. Why?
Because habits create your life.
The things you do–or don’t do–every day are the things that make up your life and who you are. And your habits create momentum.
You can tell based on someone’s daily habits where they’ll be in three months, six months, a year and so on. Your habits give you away.
For example, if you write every day, then writing every day becomes a habit, and you can easily see that if you keep up that habit and keep writing every day that you will eventually have a serious word count built up and you’ll be making major progress on your writing goals.
Just the opposite, if you don’t write every day, then it becomes a habit not to write, and you can easily see how the momentum of not writing will continue on and the days, weeks, months will fly by and you won’t have much to show for it.
My writing habits are pretty solid at this point. Yes, I’m always tweaking things and becoming even more disciplined around doing what matters, but overall I’m pretty happy with my writing habits.
Where I’m not as happy, however, is with some of my other habits, like fitness.
Having a daily fitness practice isn’t something that was ever really a priority for me. I didn’t grow up exercising, no one in my family exercises, and so it was never a habit for me to exercise every day.
But now that I’m an adult in my 30s, I definitely feel the need to bring on a daily fitness habit. I want to be fitter and stronger and more toned. I want to be one of those women who’s 90 years old and is still fit, strong and flexible. I don’t want to just let me body deteriorate because I’m not committed enough to take care of it.
So one of the habits I’m working on is a fitness practice of sweating for at least 20 minutes a day. How I do this varies from day-to-day, as I’m not good at doing the same thing every day and get pretty bored with it. Which is why I’ve given myself permission to mix it up and do whatever feels good to me each day.
Some days that means I actually get my ass to my apartment complex gym (which is a badass gym) and I get on the elliptical to work out and then I lift weights after. Some days it means I’m swimming in the pool. Other days it means I’m doing yoga in my living room.
I used to think that to create a habit of exercising every day I had to go to the gym. That it didn’t count if I did another type of movement.
But then I realized that in building the daily habit of exercising I needed to not be so restrictive because it’s being so restrictive in the past that has caused me to not want to continue with the daily habit.
So the best way to create a habit is always to do it in a way that feels good to you.
Because if the habit feels bad or if it doesn’t inspire you to keep going each day and create that momentum in the right direction, you’ll quit eventually or just not stick with it. And then the habit never gets built.
Which then means you’re living your life by default as opposed to living it on purpose and with intention. That’s never a good idea.
Default living is the reason that most people have a life full of bad habits that don’t serve them in achieving their dreams and goals.
So you have to be intentional about it. You have to know what you want and you have to figure out which habits will align with you getting what you want. Then you have to be committed to showing up daily and doing something for at least 15 minutes a day, minimum.
I prefer to build my habits in 20- to 30-minute increments because I find that’s the perfect amount of time to get shit done without getting distracted along the way. But 15 minutes is a great starting point, and writing for 15 minutes a day is how I built my daily writing habit where I now end up writing for 1-2 hours or more a day.
Routine and habit are tough for me. As a multi-passionate person I get seriously bored if I keep doing the exact same things in the exact same way every day. Which is why this time around, I’m giving myself permission to mix it up.
Mixing it up is EVERYTHING for a multi-passionate person. Because being multi-passionate already means you’ve got many gifts and skills and hobbies and interests, so picking just one thing isn’t an option. Mixing it up is almost required to keep things fresh, interesting and fun.
When a habit isn’t fun, you’re not very likely to do it. So you have to find ways to make things more fun, which will then make you actually want to do the thing you’re trying to build a habit around.
I don’t love exercising. But I do love having exercised.
That moment right after I’ve done a 20-minunte workout always feels SO GOOD and I think to myself, “I should do this more often!” Except then I find myself Resisting it and fighting against taking action.
Building habits is not always the easiest thing to do.
BUT when you’re 100 percent committed to the outcome that you want, that does make the habit-building a lot easier, because then you never have to think about it or question it.
A lot of energy gets wasted with the back-and-forth mind game of “should I write today or should I not write today?” (or whatever habit you’re wanting to create). When you’re all-in, there’s no mind game. It’s just, I’m doing this action because I’m 100 percent committed to living my dream life and having things be on my terms exactly as I want them.
Done and done.
No excuses. No questioning. No worrying. No wondering. It’s just take action, every single day, because that’s what someone who’s all in does.
All in by definition means you’re fully committed and will show up every day and do the work.
But there are definitely ways to make your habits a lot more fun. For me, music is the savior of my habits. By listening to music when I write, when I work out, when I do habits I don’t love, like putting the dishes in the dishwasher before bed every night, it makes it easier and way more fun. I get engrossed in the music and before I know it, the time is up and I’ve completed my habit for the day.
Done and done.
Dream life or bust,