There is a lot of things that have been said about building new habits. One of the most common topics of all might well be the discussion on how many times you really need to repeat the new behavior for it to stick and how long more your streak needs to last for it to become second nature.
What is rarely discussed, however, is how hard it is to stick to habits or even a full routine of life-improving habits when life and its many surprises seem to come on the way.
The reason why we don’t speak about it might be because it could feel like sort of an understatement. After all, the very reason why there is so much literature about building good habits in the first place is precisely that it is a highly desired skill that is tough to develop. Indeed, building and maintaining habits takes an understanding of how behaviors are consolidated, a lot of willpower, consistency, resistance, motivation, and organization. It also helps to be in an environment and at a moment in time, which we somehow control.
Let’s look at what happened to me recently, for example. A month ago, I was feeling on top of the world. Getting up at 5.45 AM daily to go through a morning routine fulling me with energy, well-being, and satisfying my thirst for alone time and personal development. I was leading super productive days optimized to allow the maximum of outputs without compromising on personal time. I was eating and sleeping super well and having enough time to do everything that mattered to me. I was feeling amazing. This lasted until my partner started to snore.
For 2, 2.5 weeks in a row, I couldn’t get a good night of sleep. I was woken up in the middle of the nigh, several times, and struggling to fall back to my most needed rest. It is only when we found a solution to the snoring that I could go back to getting through my nights without interruptions. These were weeks that exhausted me.
As work and life had to keep going, it took me some time to recover from the sleep deprivation. Therefore, I started getting up at 6 and then 6.30 AM and then even later. As I wasn’t feeling strong and awake enough, I decided to keep yoga for the days I felt good enough. And then to write later during the day. You get the picture. I completely lost my routine.
This happened, although my routine had become a solid habit built throughout time. All because my environment was no longer providing me with the conditions I needed to function normally. Now, I have to go through a bit of a hard time getting back to where I was a month ago. Bummer
This is the reality of building habits and routines in real life. We can do our best but, inevitably, at some point, we will get disrupted. And this is fine.
What matters is to be at peace with it and remember that we are only humans living in a world we do not control and that it is normal to get sidetracked at times. However, who said sidetracked means that we can go back on our path and that we should. This is when we need to use these wonderful habits building muscles we have developed and leverage the strength of our determination if we want to avoid everything to be lost. This is where many never go back to the wonderful path they had built themselves and it is a pity.
Building habits and routine is a long time play and the most important gift we might make ourselves is to realize that it is never really done and that we are worth the extra effort it takes to get back on track when life temporarily came on the way.
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