The “FitBit” Method:

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I don’t have a Fitbit, but I know enough people who do to understand the drive towards getting in your daily steps. It’s a big deal to beat your friends or even beat yourself. It’s a fun easy way to motivate you to be more active. It’s a genius idea.

I found myself applying that logic lazily when I thought about reaching my social activity levels. The other morning I talked to my hairdresser while getting a cut, talked to a stranger in line for 30 minutes at the social security office, and I went and ate lunch with my mom. I had this brief image of a empty bar filling right up. I felt like I reached my mandatory social needs for the day, and that even if I did nothing else for the day I wouldn’t feel isolated.

We need to be active. We need to be social. These are parts of a healthy life. We also need to drink a certain amount of water, consume a certain amount of vitamins, earn a certain amount of money, do enough positive actions, and think enough positive thoughts. We have all these daily bars to fill, and we hardly ever think about it in those terms, but maybe we should.

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“I’m starting first thing tomorrow. Today has already been lost.”

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I’ve written a lot about habits and goals and getting out of ruts lately. It’s because I’ve been in a few of them. My life is going really well, but there are minor aspects of it need to be ignited again. Hobbies need to be restarted. Diets need to be started. Friends need to be reached out to.

But I’m having problems jump starting it because I, like a lot of people, want to start tomorrow. Tomorrow normally doesn’t come, or if it does, I make a mistake and then announce that I might as well start the next day and not count today, because, who wants to start with a failure?

Already ate a doughnut? We’ve ruined the diet we might as well eat poorly the rest of the day and start clean tomorrow. Already procrastinated past your scheduled work time? Might as well just try again tomorrow, no reason to start late. Ran out of time in your week to see friends, might as well wait till next week instead of reaching out. It’s constant. Tomorrow is always better even when we said it yesterday. It’s a cycle and one we honestly don’t want to break because it’s hard to break and we don’t want to put in the work.

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The need for habit refining:

20190402_172743.jpgEvery once in a while I realize that I haven’t cleaned up my habits recently. I know I should be always working on refining and editing my habits, but I don’t know how realistic that is. We call them habits after all, they come naturally, we do them without thinking.

It’s also why they are hard to change, not that I’m telling you anything new. Bad habits die hard, they are something you really have to fight with. It takes a long time to establish new habits. I know they say 21 days, but lets be real, some habits are easier to form than others. It’s not all simple math.

It’s hard work, which is why we aren’t working on them all the time, we have other problems to deal with, life takes over. Self refinement can wait.

Until it can’t. Until we have a rude awakening. Then we get back to it trying to edit and chip away at our bad habits while we lay ground work for new ones.

Well I’m back with my rude awakening. My pants are tight, my diet has been terrible lately. I’m snacking on anything that’s not nailed down. I need to be eating better and less. I need to be taking better care of my body. I need to be getting more exercise.

When you have one of these rude awakenings it often doesn’t end there. You think “oh I need to fix my diet” but then you realize that you need to exercise, but then you realize that you need to fix your posture from working at a desk because it’s leading to back aches when you work out. Then out of nowhere you realize that you’ve abandoned a hobby that you need to pick back up and stop spending time in front of the T.V.

I say its out of nowhere, because it seems to be, but really it’s not. Once you start working on improving yourself you start to see things that you need to improve everywhere. It can be a bit disheartening, but it doesn’t need to be. Finding things to improve means you’re growing and a lot of people don’t put enough effort into growth. It’s not that other people don’t have as many things to improve, it’s just that they’re not doing them. You’re already on top of the game just by seeing these flaws, these bad habits to fix.

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The steps on the road to self improvement:

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A while ago, when I wasn’t as busy because of sickness and had been spending a ton of time in prayer, I was hyper focused on self-improvement. And let me tell you, It’s a lot easier to improve yourself when your life is at a standstill. I had a ton of time to think about my bad habits and how they formed. I was able to come up with lists of good habits I wanted to create, and since I wasn’t doing anything else, they were easy to make time for. But when my life picked back up I dropped a lot of the work I was doing, not because it wasn’t important, but because I was so busy that things were getting forgotten, or I simply didn’t have the time to chart it all so I lost some of my accountability.

Life happens like that, it comes through and sweeps us off our feet and it takes us sometime to get them back under us.

My life hasn’t calmed down any, in fact, it’s gotten busier. I’m starting a new treatment plan for my Lyme Disease, Chris and I are planning a wedding, and we’re buying a house. A lot is happening, but I’m starting to feel the tug to revisit that list of good habits I wanted to create, because after all, being busy isn’t a very good excuse for not bettering yourself.

It’s harder than it should be to get back in that zone. It’s hard to think about good habits once a day and it’s even harder to make time to form those habits. So what is a girl to do? It seemed much more black and white when I was bedridden.

  • Make a list of everything you want to accomplish. Want to be a morning person? Want to do more small acts of kindness? Need to pray more? Struggling to nourish our body correctly? Make a list of all the key traits your best self would have. If you need to make smaller points with steps you need to take to make it happen add those. Once you have it in writing you have a goal to reach.
  • Carve out time to review your daily goals and report on your steps to self improvement. Maybe you keep a journal with boxes to check off like I do, or maybe you keep a list on your phone that you simply scroll through, either way, taking time to remind yourself what you’re trying to do and seeing if you’re producing results is a good start.
  • Don’t focus on everything at once. It gets so overwhelming if you do. You’re not going to be able to pick up ten new habits at once. You’re not going to be able to stop all your problems cold turkey, and that okay. Pick the ones that our most important. Prioritize your list. What do you really want done now and what can wait till your farther along this journey. Sometimes we need to make progress before we can even start to look at the details. That’s perfectly normal.

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Adding Good Habits vs. Removing Bad Habits

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Bad habits die hard, it’s universally known. I’ve never met someone who had an easy time getting rid of a habit, they become part of our wiring, and undoing that isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s one of the main reasons that people give up on getting rid of them. It can seem just too difficult, and I get that. I’ve given up on a few of mine as well. I’m not exactly proud of it, but they felt to hard to change.

Is there an easier way to get rid of them? It’s a question that a lot of people have asked, and nobody really has an answer too, but there is an argument for pushing your bad habits out simply by forming good habits, but that too can be complicated because good habits are also hard to form. It takes time and repetition to create the wiring that all our other habits have. It requires forcing yourself to act and getting down right angry with yourself when you don’t want to. It requires self-discipline.

But is it the better alternative? Is it even true that you can push your bad habits out by replacing them with better habits?

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The Act of Reinventing Oneself

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I hear people talk all the time about reinventing themselves, about what their lives would be like and what all they would do. And I’ve known people who have done it quickly and drastically. A girl I went to school with completely morphed into a new person over one summer break.

When it comes to reinventing oneself I think most people try and do it to quickly, they jump at it and try to change every aspect of their lives, then are disappointed because it doesn’t work quite like they planned. You can’t change most of your life in a split instant, it takes time to add friends and clothes, to find a new job, to create new habits, and a lot of people get so impatient that they give up and say “I would reinvent myself if I had the time or the money.” Things turn into dreams quickly and who we want to be fades into a figment of our own imagination.

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