I've heard all sorts of things about how to change a habit. I've heard it takes 12 days, 30 days, 45 days, 60 days and maybe even 90 days to change a habit. I've heard willpower is the way to go (which is total bunk, by the way). I've heard you have to create a distraction from the habit. I've heard you should come up with a Bible Verse to "fight" the temptation when it comes. I've heard you have to replace the bad habit with a good habit.
And I've heard you should only change one habit at a time. That is part of why New Year's Resolutions rarely work. We fill our heads with these grandiose ideas of how this year will be different. Of how our life will be Amazing and Perfect if we can just defeat these few mountains in our lives. But that is all bunk too! First and foremost, let me point out that even if we defeat these "few" mountains life will not be Perfect. It won't be Amazing for very long. But, more pertinent to this post, secondly, we can't possibly make that many changes all at once successfully. I've gone so far as to stop calling them resolutions and set goals instead. I've even taken those goals and broken them down into chunks and pieces and steps and planned it out. I've split them across the months of the year so that I'm not trying to fight 5 battles all at once. And you know what?
I am still significantly overweight.
I still swear too much.
I still haven't memorized more than a half dozen Bible Verses in a single year. And ask me how many of those I still remember!
I still am not independently wealthy.
I still am not comfortably wealthy.
I still bounce checks at least once or twice a year.
I still have no savings to speak of.
I still have not published a book, nor researched getting published, nor edited the books I have managed to finish.
I keep those lists of goals. So I can refer back to them. You know, Someday. I've looked at them in my moves and rearrangements etc. There is a common theme through them all. Change. I want my life to look different. I want my home to look different. I want my body to look different. I want my bank account to look different. I want my character to look different.
Today I changed one thing. In order to accommodate that one thing and make it worth changing I had to change 3-4 other things. I thought about texting it to facebook because I was quite proud of my one change. But I realized I wanted to store it up for myself for that moment. As I pondered what I could possibly still have to write about Hope I decided to share this one thing.
I decided to walk on my lunch hour instead of going home and screwing around on facebook for 45 minutes. In order to do that I had to remember to take walking shoes and clean socks. I had to put them in a bag and hang it on my door handle or I would for sure and for certain forget them. Since I wasn't coming home I also had to figure out lunch. So I had to mix a slim fast shake (I do the powder ones you mix yourself, the pre-canned ones taste icky) and take it with. I also decided that if I was going to try to do this 'healthy' thing that maybe I shouldn't be drinking 2 cokes a day, every single day and eating 2-5 mini crunch bars a day. I can only drink coffee at work until it gets ice cold. I bought a juice smoothie drink thing to take with and open when the coffee got cold, instead of opening a Coke. Plus, I had to put all that stuff into a bag and remember the bag when I left for work. Then .... are you ready for this? I actually USED it all AND went for a walk on my lunch! And, I enjoyed it! My walk was lovely. I was not starving most of the day, like I usually am if I try to do the slim-fast thing. The smoothie was a PERFECT replacement for Coke #1. And, I just plain felt good about making a good choice.
I've been seeing a counselor for awhile now. We talked last week about my terrible sleep habits. One of the things she has repeated to me in various situations regarding a variety of issues and always in a different way, is to not be so absolute with myself. I have been a very All or Nothing person for a very long time. If I'm not going to go to bed "early" every night like a Responsible Adult does, then why bother ever doing it? If I'm not going to work out "regularly" then what good could it possibly do me? If I can't keep up with my checkbook every day or every week like a Good Steward, then why bother trying at all? But as she so accurately pointed out, you know your schedule, you know your life. You know that Monday nights and Thursday nights are late for you. So cut yourself some slack. Go to bed early when you are home early and you can. Basically, stop beating yourself senseless over the fact that two nights a week you choose something else rather than sleep. She's told me this 'stop beating yourself up' thing repeatedly. You'd think I'd be able to start seeing it on my own. Nope!
So, this week, I went to bed early Tuesday night and tried to go to bed early last night. Tuesday I ended up not sleeping quite as early as I'd hoped, but still way earlier than I had been previously. Last night, same thing, but that time I couldn't fall asleep once I was in bed, so I didn't actually get a great night's sleep, but I tried. Tonite, I am home early from campus so I might just get to bed at a decent time! We'll see.
Today there is hope in the one choice. Today I chose to walk at lunch. I am going to be happy about that. Even if I don't do it again for MONTHS! I did it today. And that is worth celebrating. I've done it once, I know it is possible, I can do it again another day. Possibly tomorrow. Who knows!