Friday, December 30, 2016

The Cycle of Habits

I've been thinking about habits a lot recently.  Habits I've slipped into, habits I need to change, this vicious cycle that often keeps me at a low point.  There seems to be a cycle within these habits.  You kinda slip into them without realizing it, and they just become more and more a part of your life until you realize that they aren't habits you should have.  Negative thoughts, too much junk food, sleep deprivation...

In this time of year, when many things are changing, you might be thinking about the past - your younger (maybe better) self, all those memories of how things used to be.  Maybe you're glad they're gone, or maybe you want them back.  We realize quite suddenly that we're not quite where we want to be.  We realize we want to change, and right now, with so many beginnings and endings, seems like a great time to try it.

So we make a plan and try to change everything.  A revolution.  A complete 360. A flurry of promises thicker than the snowflakes (unless you're in Kansas with me, then there's a 50% chance it's actually sunny 63 degrees out.).  Resolutions that may be better suited to all our lives instead of this upcoming year alone...

I want to tell you - you don't have to change it all at once.  When you get to that moment of realization, everything becomes clear and you want to instantly fix it all.  But we don't always have the strength to make all of those life changes at once - remember, those habits are habits because they've built up consistently over time.  You may be super motivated at first, but if you spend all that energy right away, spread out over a bunch of new things, you'll likely run out of resolve before any new habits are really formed.

I read a book recently, "Like Water for Chocolate", that gave a good metaphor for this.  The idea was that we all have matches inside of us, matches that can be lit by various things.  However, it said that if we light them all at once, the fire will be too intense for us to handle.  So this week, when you're thinking about resolutions and changes in your life, don't try to change it all at once.  Significant change takes significant dedication and time.

It's okay to take baby steps.  You don't have to fix it all immediately.  Take it easy, or you might burn out too fast.  Find something (especially something that might affecting everything else), and attack it first.

For me, this has been sleep.  There are a lot of bad habits I'm trying to change right now, but I've realized that being so tired is making all the other things worse.

So, don't put too much pressure on yourself.  :)  Make those resolutions, and let them build on themselves throughout the year.  Make them manageable goals that don't overwhelm you on the first day.

How are you thinking of this new year?  What are some habits you're trying to change?  :)  

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