Number 24 – Forming Positive Habits
One thing I’m really grateful for from this strange year, is the opportunity to establish some really good, positive habits. Habits that I hope will stick, once we start moving around a bit more in the coming months and years.
Previously, I have always struggled to maintain a running routine. I’d start running with enthusiasm for a few weeks, maybe a month or so. Then, I’d get a bit busy. Not go for a run this day. Feel a bit tired that day. And before I knew it, I was back to not running at all and all the fitness gains I had made quickly receded and I returned to where I started.
Since the first lockdown, I’ve pretty consistently managed to run 3 or 4 times a week every week. Yes, there have been weeks where I haven’t run at all or run far less. But now, I’m not only running more consistently than ever, I’m actively looking forward to running and feeling the benefits of it. Today, I got to the end of leading four online workshops with primary schools and the first thing I did was get my running kit on and go outside for a jog. It immediately blew the cobwebs away and allowed my brain to process and switch off from work. I’m hoping this has now become a habit that will stick.
Similarly, I now have an embarrassingly long streak on Duolingo. I’ve done 392 days of Duolingo in a row – anything from a couple of minutes to 15 minutes a day. I think it’s fair to say, that is now a firmly established habit!
After hitting a particularly low point last month, I’ve introduced mediation to my daily schedule. I’ve now reached 35 consecutive days of meditating and am definitely feeling the benefits. Another habit that I hope is established for the future.
One thing that has helped me personally to maintain these habits is letting go of a fixed sense of routine. I just know that I have to do these things at some point during day or week. This means that I’m more flexible and can squeeze things in whenever suits me, whilst also preventing the boredom of every day becoming the same. So, I’ll sometimes go for a run in the morning and sometimes go for a run in the afternoon. Some weeks, I’ll run on a Monday, other weeks I won’t run until Wednesday, but my aim is always to get three runs in during the week. I think this approach has really helped to give me the right mix of accountability and flexibility.
The other thing that links all of these habits, is the recognition that giving each of them just a few minutes in my day, makes the rest of my day so much more enjoyable and productive. When you’re busy, it is easy to say, ‘I don’t have time for that’. But actually, giving 10 minutes to your meditation, will probably gain you more than 10 minutes during your workday, as you are more focussed and less likely to be distracted.
So, despite all the many things not to be grateful for during this time, I am certainly grateful for the opportunity to cement these habits that will hopefully make life more enjoyable and productive in the future.