Thursday, January 19, 2012

Are bad habits becoming your IDENTITY?

"Because the more we continue to make the same mistakes, the more we ingrain the ineffective behaviors into our lives. Our failures become our rituals, our rituals become our habits, and our habits become our identity. We no longer experience an unproductive day; we become unproductive people." -Peter Bregman, "Are you training yourself to fail?" (Harvard Business Review Blog)
Is your reflection this nice?
When I read that paragraph, a chill went down my spine. When I've had a rewarding, productive day I like to think that I'm building upon a chain of consistent behavior.  What is more unsettling is that I've often turned a blind eye to all the times just this week where I've let momentary laziness and distraction keep me from doing the things that truly give me joy.

Emotions play a strong role in why I get side-railed.

I've played out this pattern so many times:
...Wake up in the morning, having hit the snooze button one too many times.  No time to eat, no time to start the day by doing the most important thing first (eg., spending time to read, pray and calm my heart and mind).  No time to prepare for the day ahead

...A long day at work.  Not eating properly makes it harder not to be grumpy, sluggish, impatient.  As the day goes by, I feel more physically, emotionally drained.

...I get home, feeling tired and unmotivated.  It becomes harder to not get distracted on the internet. After a few clicks, I look at the clock and wonder where the time went.  Tired, I regret not having any more time left to do things that I wish I could be doing.  I go to bed not looking forward to starting another day.

This doesn't happen every day, but it does happen often enough that I fear that this is becoming a part of my identity.  As uncomfortable as it may be, I encourage you to analyse your own "bad days."  Keep a record if you need to and try to identify patterns ...and possible interventions.

The following things have helped me.  I hope that they can help you as well:
  • Start the day right (whatever you need to do to keep the right perspective and stay grounded in your principles).
  • Take care of yourself.  Carry energy dense, portable food like nuts/berries. Drink plenty of water. 
  • Set an hourly chime on your watch to stretch, take deep breaths, refocus on the big picture, and your life purpose.  Benedictine monks used to use the sound of hourly bells as reminders to pray throughout the day.
  • Take advantage of momentum.  Chain little steps to keep moving towards the life you want to live.  
  • Celebrate your victories and reflect at the end of the day.  
  • Don't stay up too late at night.  Tomorrow starts the night before. Go to sleep in peace.  

1.  Keep a record of all your worst days this coming week.  Is there a pattern?  Does one decision snowball into several others?
2.  Using your log, what interventions can you implement to avoid your common traps?

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