Habits: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

By nature, I am a creature of habit. I like structure; I like consistency. In some ways, I see this as a positive character trait. Week days are the most predictable. I make my morning smoothie, at the same time with the same ingredients, every day. I go to an early-morning boot camp class, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, nearly every week. I have a large tumbler that I fill with water first thing when I arrive at the office, and won’t have a coffee until I’ve finished it. It’s rare that I’m in bed any later than 10:30pm. I have my morning rituals and my evening rituals. It’s my thing, and I like it the way it is.

But when do habits turn a bit ugly? For me, it’s when I form habits like getting home from work and heading straight for the couch (and not leaving until it’s time for my nightly bedtime ritual). It’s when I get hooked on a series on Netflix (hello, Glee.) and spend multiple nights in a row as a couch-potato. It’s when I start associating Netflix couch time with a bag of salt & vinegar chips and ice cream. See a pattern? Can you relate?

The thing about habit is that sometimes we don’t notice that something has become a habit until it’s a deeply ingrained habit. And by that point, breaking that not-so-great habit becomes a bit tricky. When you’ve been running on autopilot, it can be difficult to stop. You need to re-train your brain and your body. An important part of this is mindfulness and being in the moment enough to realize when you’re acting on autopilot. Another important part is preparation. I heard a great example of this recently: A woman was having difficulty motivating herself to exercise after work. She would get home and, like me, head straight for the couch. So, to make it easier on herself, she packed her gym bag the night before and left it sitting on her couch. The next time she got home and headed for the couch, guess what she saw? Her gym bag waiting and ready to go! The key takeaway: make it as easy as possible for yourself to develop those healthy habits.

Habits to drop. Habits to adopt. 

I find it interesting how highly related your habits are to your goal achievement. I know that some of my uglier habits are most certainly not going to help me attain my health and wellness goals. Lazing around, eating too much, wasting time on social media and not moving my body enough are all things I need to work on. I think that baby steps are key, so below I’ve outlined some less attractive habits I’d like to drop, and some more awesome habits I’d like to adopt in their place. I’m going to try to crowd out the bad stuff with some good stuff in order to help me achieve my goals.

Habits to drop:

  • Watching more than 1 Netflix episode per day
  • Spending unnecessary amounts of time on my phone (social media) while at home
  • Eating lunch at my desk
  • Having more than one coffee per dayScreen Shot 2016-04-10 at 2.59.57 PM

Habits to adopt:

  • Biking to and from work
  • Drinking more water (and less liquid calories)
  • Meditating
  • Journalling

Wish me luck!

If you’re interested in reading more about habits, you might like to check out my friend MK’s blog Cultivating Habits.

Today’s Reflection: What habits can you drop/adopt to help you reach your goals?

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