The Habit Experiment

It’s two years now since I started introducing new habits in an attempt to bring some order and positivity into what had become a chaotic and difficult time. Over that time, I’ve blogged about each habit, my reasons for introducing it and my reflections about whether it’s been a useful addition to the set.

It now feels like it’s time for a final round up before putting this one to bed – not that I’m stopping the habits themselves (for the most part!) but that I don’t need to blog about them any longer. So here’s the summary of where I’ve got to.  And a picture of some habits for your amusement.

The ones I still do every day

I guess these are the habits that are really ingrained- the ones that don’t really require any thought any more – they are just something I do.

  • Walk 10k steps – it’s funny, but this one has actually got easier over time. Tiny changes in my behaviour, so incremental that I’ve hardly noticed, all make a difference. I choose the parking space on the other side of the car park, the toilets furthest from my desk, I choose to walk short journeys rather than drive and I NEVER use the lifts. The more I move, the more I want to move! I difference to my health is probably subtle as I was hardly inactive before, but every little helps.
  • Wash up – yes me, weird I know! I don’t feel a massive sense of satisfaction from doing this, but it gets done and I prefer it to not getting done. On the downside, now Paul never washes up, because he knows I’ll do it. Or maybe he just can’t be arsed.
  • Write in my gratitude diary – this is so quick and easy, but really helps me find the positives in a shitty day and reminds me of the joy in the good ones. It’s also help me understand what really makes me happy. It probably boils down to moments with my family, moving my body and the beauty of nature, which sounds cheesy but there you go.       I get more from seeing a beautiful sunrise than buying a new top. And it’s cheaper. Win.
  • Check my weekly planner – another no brainer, without this level of organisation my life would descend into utter chaos and it’s likely my head would actually explode. Which would then be a literal no brainer.

The ones I do most of the time

These are ones that I’m a bit less religious about. I always do them if it’s situation normal, but might not do if I’m in a hotel for example. I would still say that I have about a 90% hit rate on average.

  • Drink hot water with lemon first thing – almost always do this where there’s lemon available. I enjoy it and I think hydrating first thing is good. I am a little worried about the effect to the acid on my teeth though. At home, I tend to use a straw to reduce the contact, but on work days I use a travel mug. I’m thinking of switching lemon for fresh ginger on work days, ginger has a myriad of health benefits and it’ll give my enamel a break!
  • Lay out my clothes the night before – I don’t tend to do this when I’m on holiday, but I might still have a mental idea of what I’m going to wear the next day. This saves me so much time but also thought, somehow doing this the night before makes it a much easier than trying to make a decision when I’m in a rush to get out of the door!

 

The ones I do when I remember

  • Pelvic floor exercises – good for you and easy to do. Now I’ve remembered, I’m doing them now.       TMI?
  • Chew mindfully – I’m not sure that this ever got ingrained really, as I eat on the run too often (yeah I know, bad). I need a reminder to do this, so I will give this some thought as it doesn’t come naturally.
  • Read my motivational list – this is another one which is really good to do, but I’m not sure that every day is entirely necessary. However, it’s definitely one I turn to if I’m having a wobble or need a boost.

 

The ones that have been subsumed into what I do anyway

  • Core exercises – I do one specific ab session a week, but my core gets worked through other compound moves I do in other resistance sessions.  I think that’s probably enough for now – my core is pretty strong and I get back pain far less often.
  • Spending 15 mins on the house – I don’t religiously set a timer for this, but I do try and keep on top of this. Having a couple of months a year where I really focus on clearing out has helped too, and I plan to keep that up.

 

The one I never do

  • Meditation. So boring. I lost more than 60 hours of my life to this over the course of the year.       Don’t get me wrong, I think mindfulness is a good thing in principle, but like so many things, one size doesn’t fit all. I read every evening, when I walk outside I always notice my surroundings, I lose myself in daydreams from time to time. All this helps clear my mind without having to consciously spend time doing something I don’t enjoy.

In summary, this has been a great experiment and enhanced my life in a number of ways. I think it’s something I’ll come back to. Part of the reason I started is that areas of my life felt out of whack and the habits that have stuck are the ones that have made a tangible improvement to my health and wellbeing. Without seeing a benefit, why would you continue? But that’s not to say that these things can’t evolve and I’ve no doubt that there are other things I’ll want to introduce, or some of these that will no longer be relevant in the future .

If you feel that there are any parts of your life that are out of balance, then I really recommend making some small tweaks, as they really do add up to making you feel more positive!

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