Practicing your habits and creating pathways.

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I’ve been working the last three weeks on minimizing my screen time. I’m not doing great at it if I’m being honest, I’m still on social media a lot. I work online and I spend a chunk of my down time online. I like feeling informed and I work in marketing, of course I like consuming media!

But in this process, though I haven’t gotten rid of a ton of screen time, I have been spending more time on my hobbies. I’ve been seeing the horse more for longer stretches of time. I might get online afterwards, but the extra farm time counts for something when it comes to my goals and it counts as a lot when it comes to my mental health.

Even slight improvements turn into bigger strides. I’ve read a number of books on forming habits, and I can’t remember which one it came from, but a book introduced me to a new way of thinking about habits. You have to practice them like you do your skills. Even small steps are setting up links in your brain, creating pathways so next time you take another step you can build out even more. Practicing your habits. It’s not that novel of a concept, but as someone who always thought about habits as complete reforms it gave me an insight to how I could realistically improve.

Small steps, always moving forward. I can do that.

I like spending time on my more obscure hobbies that I don’t work on often, and it’s nice to think that my three hours spent designing a book cover for my current work in progress is enough to help me create pathways towards being creative.

Also thinking about it logistically in terms of brain pathways has been fantastic. It not only helps me love my small steps, but it also makes me think long and hard about what kind of pathways I have been forming on a daily bases, whether the anger from social media was creating emotional pathways to anger no matter the triggers, or whether I was making anxiety pathways unintentionally.

It is fact that this is how our brain works, but thinking about it in this way has helped me look at how I view habit forming and what kind of habits I’m forming when I’m not trying.

 

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