What are your habits? Are they good, bad, destructive, useful? Do your habits define you?
Many people are praising the book Atomic Habits, I still have it on my to-read list but the concept seems very compelling. The author defines an atomic habit as “a regular practise or routine that is not only small and easy to do but also the source of incredible power; a component of the system of compound growth.” I’ve heard about this concept but only recently realized I was implementing atomic habits for the past couple of months in my quarantine WFH life. And even though the pandemic situation is horrible on a global level and hurt pretty much everybody, I feel calm as never before. Those little habits created a routine that helps me stay focused and don’t get distracted on negative news or everyday difficulties and feeling of disconnection.
It might seem like a lot to many people, don’t get discouraged if you only manage to implement one or two small habits but the most important is that it sticks. Before starting new beneficial habits it’s good to get rid of some bad ones, clear up space for fresh new stuff. In my case, I completely gave up caffeine and alcohol consumption. For me, those weren’t difficult, especially because the social aspect of having coffees/drinks is absent during the lockdown. Not saying it will be that easy for other people, might pick something easier to start with. But not having my body and mind clogged with those substances helped with adding energy, clarity and inner peace. Overall I fill great benefit to my physical and mental health.
So what I actually started doing? First, I started running after work. Never was a fan of this favourite activity of many, but taking it easy and slow I actually started enjoying it. And I don’t run every day, sometimes swap it for a home workout to make sure I have 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5-6 times a week. The second thing which is a set of small habits is my morning routine – I start my day with meditation, a few exercises/stretches for shoulder mobility, green juice instead of breakfast and a bit of reading. All together it takes about an hour maximum. I don’t allow myself to go online before all those things are accomplished, otherwise, I start thinking about work, stressing out if I actually have the time for this and so on. This one is probably the hardest for me, but if you are not doing it yet, try starting your day offline, without a constant stream of emails and texts. Such a peaceful morning time will determine the mood of the whole day.
Such recommendations seem very obvious and many people are doing it much better than me. But I decided to share it because nowadays we tend to get obsessed with self-improvement, productivity tips, lifehacks and things like that. Amount of this stuff is overwhelming, we read about it and think it would be nice to try, maybe even craft some plan (at least this is what I tend to do) but then it fails because we have no time, energy, motivation etc. Instead of pausing for a moment, cleaning up some bad habits and establishing a small but healthy new one really works. Soon you feel like you want more of those little improvements and stack them into routines and lifestyle changes. But you don’t have to check off the massive list or feel bad if you slip up here and there. If you don’t feel like your usual routine just do something else what is good for you, instead of beating yourself up or returning to some bad habits.
Don’t get discouraged from all these posts online of people claiming they learned a bunch of new skills, wrote a book, became a gourmet chef, attended dozens of webinars during the quarantine. Your self-development is yours, it is not a competition. Just be patient with yourself and experiment with something you can do for 5 minutes every day. My 5 minutes turned in an hour in less than two months and it feels pretty natural and effortless. Experiment, take your time and find your unique little habits with a great impact. Or maybe you already found them?