By Caitlin Kelly
One of the best things about a vacation is — for me anyway — coming back to my home and daily life with refreshed eyes and new ideas. I almost always make some changes in how our apartment looks, and some changes in how I conduct my work and life.
Being self-employed as a writer for seven years means I have a lot of freedom in how, when and where I work. But it also means I fall into ruts and routines, like everyone else. If it’s easy and “normal”, I tend to keep doing it. I sit at the dining room table writing on my laptop, (why not at the library? a coffee shop? a shared space? the park?), because that’s what I did the day/week/month before.
A best-selling book, The Power of Habit, addresses this. Once we become habituated to a behavior, it’s comfortable and routine, and demands little thought or creativity. It might be what we drink each morning, (or night), or the clothes we wear or the friends we hang out with.
Here’s a great post by Seth Godin on why being angry is a habit one can choose to break.
One of the things I enjoy most about vacation is the chance to flee habitual behavior and try new things, some of which are simply easier, more affordable or more accessible in places other than where I live, whether horseback riding or finding a store full of used CDs.
I do do a few things, habitually, that I am enjoying and are good for me, like a Monday morning jazz dance class that leaves me drenched in sweat and ready to start my week. At 4:00 p.m. or so, many days, I brew a full pot of tea — no crappy bag-in-a-cup! — and sit down to hydrate and relax for a while.
And every year — no matter how much I would really prefer to blow that cash on a fantastic trip somewhere — I put away 15 percent or more of my income. It has finally begun to add up to something that seems real and worth managing, so the years of self-denial are worth it.
But I have a few habits I need to change:
— checking email too often, out of loneliness and boredom
— dicking around on social media (ditto)
— procrastinating on major projects that require a lot of intermediate steps to get to completion
— wasting time on magazines instead of reading books
— losing two to four hours listening to, (albeit loving!), talk shows on National Public Radio
— sitting for too long at the computer without a break, like…hours!
— not exercising consistently every single week, at least four (ugh) times
Here’s a beautiful, smart post about the power of habit — and how essential it is to wake up our lives while we still have them to enjoy:
One way is to make a conscious effort to break the habit patterns which blunt our perceptions. After all, it was sheer habit which caused the man to throw the magic pebble into the sea. ‘Habit,’ says Samuel Beckett in Waiting for Godot, ‘is a great deadener’. A contemporary Buddhist says that we should try to do some of the following:
- 4 Tips for Breaking Bad Habits (lifehack.org)
- How to Stop Procrastinating and Stick to Good Habits by Using the “2-Minute Rule” (lifehack.org)
- Americans under 30 Less Aware of Spending Habits (cashnetusa.com)
- The Key to Breaking Harmful Habits (blackchristiannews.com)
- How Do You Break Bad Habits? (farnamstreetblog.com)
- Is This Bad Habit Draining Your Energy? (forbes.com)
- How Habits Make You Less Creative (fastcompany.com)
- Break the Cycle of of Busyness with These Three Questions (lifehacker.com)
- 7 Tips to Stop Procrastination (money.usnews.com)
- Breaking Bad (Habits) (projecteve.com)