Waging Wars Against Your Habits

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This is a guest post by Katya Zorina from Social Petri Dish. She wrote this as a response to my post on adapting desired habits, in which she was mentioned.

I have many ideals, most of which consist of admired habits that I picked up on the road called life. I observe, I like, I try to adapt. The latter only sounds easy to your mom, who always gives you hell for drinking milk out of the carton. What she forgets it that habits have their own control mechanism, and it’s not your rational, conscious self.

A habit can be your best friend or your worst enemy. So how do you train your brain to unconsciously do what you want it to do? Clearly, the trick is to transition your desired behavior from being the product of willful effort into a knee jerk reaction. But how do you do it?

Unfortunately, I don’t have a simple answer to this question. I’ve been waging multiple wars with myself for years. I won some, I lost some; but I’m not giving up, because I’ve developed a habit of thinking that anything worth having will never come easily.

Here are some of my recent victories:

  • Beating the alarm
    I realized the true value of this habit when I started my job. Coming to the office early allows me to catch up on the news and remind people of my existence through Twitter. And what would life be without Twitter?

  • Hitting the gym consistently
    I used to be a couch potato and I hated myself for it. I am not like that anymore. The key is to have your workout in your calendar...with a reminder. It still sucks having to carry a gym bag around, but it’s so worth it.

And some failures:
  • Balancing cookies and salads
    I like my cookies. But I also love looking and feeling great. However, I am still trying to figure out a way to trick myself into thinking that celery tastes AWESOME.

  • Updating my daily planner...daily
    I noticed that I get a lot more done when I have my to-do list on paper. But that means that I will have to do more if I write it down. Battle in progress.

  • Remembering that the Floor of My Room is NOT My Closet
    Hmm. But it’s so much easier to find stuff when it’s laid out in front of you!

  • Battling caffeine addiction
    Who isn’t?

Even though my list of bad habits is long (this is just the tip of the iceberg), I am still a strong believer in the power of my conscious self. If I can win once, I can certainly win again. It just takes effort and the realization that it will not come overnight. Going to bed thinking that you will start exercising everyday starting tomorrow never works out. Take it easy on yourself – start with jog.

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