writer shannon kirk building a habit

Building a Habit

writer shannon kirk building a habit

Habits are hard!
(Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash)

The research suggests it takes 21 days to firmly wedge a new habit into the tight-packed to-do list of your life. Or that’s a starting point, anyway, with more involved habits taking longer to fully take hold.

With this in mind, I set out to form some new habits, giving myself a two week period for each one – apparently I’m so amazing I don’t need three weeks plus?

The first step of my creatively christened 3-Part Healthy Life Habits Plan involves my morning and evenings routines and I have to say: with a few little hiccups, I’m doing fairly well! Of course, I sorta forgot to note when I actually began Part 1, but I’m going to say it was about a week ago.

My primary goal in setting up this step was to cut back on the ridiculous amount of time I spend on my electronics. I wake up in the morning and unplug my phone, then promptly sit down and see what emails came in overnight.

The biggest problem is how this affects my workday. I work from home and bill my client/employer for each hour I put in, so sitting at the kitchen table flipping through work emails, responding here and there, is a really good way to gyp myself out of paid time. Sure, it’s only 10 or 15 minutes, but over the course of a month, that adds up to five or six hours. Not to mention the fact that I just woke up, and here I am introducing all-new tensions into my neck and shoulders as I read aggravating inquiries from co-workers.

From emails it’s an easy jump to Facebook, or Instagram, or news articles – regardless of how intellectually stimulating the surfing might be, I don’t need to start straining my eyes at 6:30 in the morning. There’s plenty of time for that the rest of the day.

That covered, here was Part One of the 3-Part Healthy Life Habits Plan:

Evenings

  • Turn off electronics at least an hour before bed
  • Plug in phone and iPad in a different room (and put battery back into alarm clock)
  • Meditate for 10 minutes before bed
  • Any evening reading should be light in nature
  • Lights out, 10 pm

Mornings

  • No electronics for 45 minutes to an hour after waking up
  • Do small yoga sequence and 5-minute focused breathing
  • Take a brisk walk after morning water
  • Wake up no later than 7 am

Alright, so. Like any good, well-thought-out plan, multiple facets changes within the first few days:

Change 1: I have a nice gong sound set up with my phone alarm, so if I’m setting an alarm to wake me up, I need my phone beside my bed. There is literally nothing worse than waking to the blaring beep of a basic alarm.

Change 2: Meditating has been put on hold. No good reason and I’m trying to get to it again!

Change 3: I don’t want a set bedtime. As long as I’m making an effort to get up at a decent time (ie: not sleeping for 10 hours), then I can go to bed when I want. I set my alarm – if I’m setting one – for 8.5 hours because it usually takes me a bit to fall asleep.

Change 4: Yeah, so, the walk thing was a good idea, and I even did it for a couple of days. Brisk, focusing on the fresh beauty around me, breathing deep…but unfortunately, I live on a busy street and walking down a sidewalk alongside rushing cars first thing in the morning isn’t exactly relaxing or invigorating. Here’s hoping I wind up living somewhere calmer someday soon!

While I’ve been pretty good with the Electronics OFF rule (with a couple exceptions), the morning hiatus has been tricky. Things pop into your head in the morning, you know? Important questions that need answering, like “When does The Blacklist Season 5 air?” and “How do you get old stains out of cotton?”. Vital stuff.

My only reason for rehashing my progess on The Plan (besides fulfilling my daily blog post quota) is to show you that plans are good, and plans don’t always (usually? ever?) go as planned.

You’ve heard this before, but it’s ok to fall off your plan and go back to it! Missing a day – be it meditation, healthy eating, jogging, or flossing – isn’t an excuse to quit. It’s just a reminder to rededicate yourself to your goals.

You can do it!

Love and light xo

S.

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