Breaking the Habit Edition

This is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever attempted (Embedded Systems Design excluded). I find myself at a contradiction of my normal behavior for almost all of my free time. I’m struggling to wake up early, to not passively watch television, and to generally just not be a lazy idiot. After some careful thought, laziness is the real habit that I’m attempting to break here; these individual items that I’m after are simply results of laziness.

It has been a fairly rough couple days. Things I thought would be easy are hard and that makes pretty much all of my goals are fairly difficult. I’ve definitely treaded the line of needing to self discipline for failure to accomplish one of my goals on a couple occasions, but I’ve rationalized my way out of it. I figure as long as I’m making an attempt at changing my behavior, then I’m within the constraints regardless of the actual action taken.

Here is my list of rules with updates:

1. Put things away after I use them.

This hasn’t been too bad. I’ve been making a conscious effort and it seems to be keeping the level of clutter down.

2. If I see an area that is cluttered, I will de-clutter it at that exact moment.

This made for an interesting start. I had to give myself a lot of leeway with it because my whole apartment was cluttered.  I would have been cleaning for two days straight. So, I’ve been lax on enforcing this one as long are the level of clutter is decreasing each day.  It would have been a better idea to start this when my apartment was clean.

3. Brush Teeth, Floss, Rinse with mouthwash twice per day.

This one isn’t so bad. It’s definitely not a built in habit yet though.  Each morning and night I catch myself as I try to go right to work or go to bed without the full cleaning.

4. Consume no soda or candy.

I originally thought this would be really difficult, so I was surprised when I didn’t want any soda or candy for the first two days. Today was a different story though.  My lack of sleep and caffeine built up and I had quite a slow afternoon.

5. Do a minimum of 2 hours of work on side business everyday.

It’s intriguing to have a set rule like this.  I was working on my business almost everyday, but my productivity and accomplishments varied quite a bit.  Now that I’m focused on a set time of two hours, I’m finding I get a lot more done and will push other things out of the way to get to work! This is a good one for sure.

6. Get at least a ½ hour of exercise everyday.

I’ve had some small hiccups, but have been accomplishing this every day.  I haven’t yet today, and being 9:30pm as I write this means I’ll really have to make myself.

7. Wake up at 7am every weekday, even on days off.

Well, I’ve been physically getting out of bed each day.  But once I fell asleep at my desk (at home, not at work) and once I fell asleep on the couch. Tomorrow I’m going to try to have something set out to do when I wake up (in this case, a short run).

8. Watch TV only for special events or for dual processing (while doing something productive)

This has been the most challenging of my rules and I should probably be punishing myself for my results.  I didn’t realize how ingrained television was in my daily routine. I use it to unwind and recharge after work. I used to wake up and watch sports center in the morning while my brain was waking up.

I’ve definitely still watched more TV than I should have, but I’m aware of it and try to do something else if I can.

Another issue I’ve had is decently bad headaches. I don’t have much choice but to sit in the dark or sit in the dark and listen to the television on a really low volume.  I don’t normally get headaches very often, so I wonder if they’re triggered by my change in sleep or diet.

Overall, it has been pretty difficult, but I’m hanging in there. I was disheartened today when I read a post by David at Raptitude that said:

“In my research on habit change, one point keeps coming up again and again: the likelihood of your habit sticking decreases dramatically for every additional habit you’re attempting to change at the same time. If you only focus on one habit, a successful take is almost guaranteed, but trying to change five habits concurrently almost guarantees failure for all of them.

The fact that habits can’t be changed en masse was always a difficult pill for me to swallow. I always tried to change everything at once, and it never worked.”

Well…oops. I guess I’ll have to try that much harder. After all, if I’m going to make it as a self employed internet entrepreneur I need to be an outlier anyway.  I might as well start outlying now.

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1 comment

  1. Didn’t mean to dishearten you! But if things start to fall apart, you might want to try cutting it down to the most important habits first. Looks like you’re doing pretty well though. Good luck with your changes 🙂