I’ve gotten good at consuming information on the web, of late, and I’m not sure if that is exactly something I should be proud of, but there it is. As a result, I’ve started to gain a clearer picture of what goals and habits mean to me. For months now, I’ve been trying to hone in on a better morning routine.
For years, I had the nearly perfect morning routine, but then my b/f and I moved in together and I could no longer do my JAPA meditations. This meditation involves repeating sounds like “OM” or “AUM” and frankly I’m not brave enough to make those sounds in front of anyone and you know how apartments are, not exactly sound-proof and with little to no privacy.
He’s also very different than me. He stays up late, takes naps and has his little idiosyncrasies and, yes, I know I have mine. Now, this is not to say that we don’t want to live together anymore, it’s just when you live with other people you have to make room for that other person: physically, spiritually, mentally. You have to learn to make it work and you figure out what is important.
Another challenge is I have a constantly changing work schedule and we moved 3 times since living in Chiang Rai. It’s actually been a hard year here, but that’s what happens sometimes and this is what makes my search for goals and habits that stick essential and hopefully, rewarding. I also want to use my time wisely and be a better person, the best I can be without being one of those super annoying people who does everything right. Ha!
Gretchen Rubin’s quote, “What we do everyday matters more than what we do once in a while” really sat with me and it’s been a bright reminder as far as forming habits are concerned. I think it’s easy for us to remember to do something good for ourselves like exercise, every once in a while and so her quote forces me to think, what is so important that I need to do it every day?
My first year away from home, in college, was the unhealthiest I had ever been. I was in theatre class when we were doing some warm-up exercises and I remember how much it hurt, yes hurt, to do arm circles and general stretches and I thought, Good god, I have got to get into exercise again because this is pathetic. So, over the years I have done all sorts of exercise routines and fails until I finally figured out what I love: yoga and walking/hiking.
When I live close to work, and I deliberately situate myself to be so, I walk. Oh how I miss hiking and walking in parks, as Thailand (at least where I have lived) does not do parks. Yes, yes, Bangkok has Lumphini, but there is very little shade and it’s a hot frickin’ city. I’m amazed at city planners lack of observations, shade = cooler, no trees = hot, hot, hot. Concrete = hot, grass = not hot. *rubs temples*
Ah, yes, so every morning I do two very important things, I do yoga and I write. I want to bring meditation back into the routine, but it’s not a priority right now. Meditation is something that I try to practice throughout the day and when your life is filled with interruptions (yeah, I tried getting up earlier than my partner, it doesn’t work) and unpredictable circumstances like invasive construction, setting aside 5-30 minutes of privacy doesn’t work. Maybe in the future, but not right now…meditation can be part of my walking or general waking moments and that’s fine by me. I’m not trying to kill myself.
A lot of advice on the web talked about how taking small steps, making small goals and starting out small is what helps habits to become long lasting. I’ve done New Year’s Resolutions, but I don’t anymore and the last time I gave myself a deadline or a goal, I ended up changing it and feeling rather crappy over it until my b/f talked some good sense at me. So, no more big grand goals, thank you. I think they can do more harm than good. (This is not to be confused with dreaming big.)
Instead, achievable habits like yoga and writing, even if all the yoga I can manage is a handful of sun salutations and all the writing I do is journaling in the morning. I return to Gretchen Rubin’s quote. The point is to do it. I think then building on it becomes an inevitability. And you are more likely to stick with whatever habit you want to form rather than taking a month off (oops) and then forgetting about it or doing it when you have time and then beating yourself up for not doing it more often.
Leo from Zen Habits wrote a really great article on failing faster at habits in order to figure out what works for you. He suggested just a 3 day check in! Doing something for 3 days and then evaluating the change to see how it worked for you. This is radically different than all those lofty goal-setting ideas. Three days is manageable, plus 3 days can be a long time in the world of making and breaking habits. I love it.
Although right now, my focus is to spend less time consuming on the Internet. Even when it’s not junk, I should be creating more. This is in line with wanting to use my time more wisely and to get crackin’ on the next big writing project. Specifically, I think I can do this by carving out time to do Internet stuff and not getting online when I’m writing; in other words, keeping creating and consuming time separate. This idea is a derivative of Leo’s manifesto “focus”.
I think it’s natural to go through binges though. I know I have those “I’m eating everything online” for a period and then I get into just writing and contemplating new ideas, too. But, for me I want to be able to recognize when I’m not in harmony or balance so I can get back on the right train track. I fear being mindless in front of my computer and I still find it weird that this is how we live and communicate.
Every day that I teach, I see how distracted my students are by the Internet. They are hunched over like old people. They cannot help themselves from reaching for their smart phones to check this or that. No matter how hard I try to keep them off their phones, they can’t help it. It’s their addiction. It’s their drug. I’m grateful for the students that can focus on the lesson and me and their classmates. It’s the way it should be, but we live in the age of ring tones, IM and games and more games.
It’s all about fighting urges, isn’t it? Briefly helping my b/f with his blog makes me want to go to my blog, but I’m reading a book. I stopped turning on my PC as soon as I get up in the morning. Yuck. I can’t be glued to the glow box before I have my coffee. I have to draw the invisible line somewhere. So, it’s only after I write in my notebook can I turn on my computer.
What is your morning routine? And your thoughts on goals and habits? Have you had much success?