You’re Getting to Be a Habit with Me

March 29, 2010 at 9:46 am (Uncategorized)

I hadn’t thought about it before, but I’m starting to realize that for the past couple of years I haven’t taken very good care of myself.  It wasn’t a full-out war on Dyan, but I really half-assed a lot of things in my life.  I didn’t eat too terribly, I wasn’t entirely out of shape, I was writing if I found the time for it…essentially, I was doing a really mediocre job of being myself.  Not cool, Dyan, not cool.

Fortunately, that is in the process of changing.  When I left the 9-5 job, did I make the bold declaration, “As God as my witness, I’ll never not take care of myself again,” while shaking my fist at the heavens?  Oh goodness, no.  Anytime I’ve tried to make a sweeping change such as that it has ended as a miserable failure.  What’s going on now is that I’m gradually developing good habits.

I’ve heard various claims that assert that changing a habit can take anywhere between 15 and 66 days.  For our purposes, let’s assume that it’s closer to the 15 days end of the spectrum.  Is it feasible to change your diet, physical fitness, productivity, and fiscal behaviors in just over two weeks?  No sir, that sounds like an experiment in futility.  Not even Superman could do all that, and the failures that you inevitably will experience will do nothing to keep you motivated.

I’ve taken on one or two little things and tried to make them stick.  My first undertaking was to make my morning cup of coffee at home.  As much as I was tempted by the seductive call of Dunkin Donuts, I forced myself to wash out the coffee maker and brew a fresh pot of coffee before breakfast every morning.  The first few days it was a nuisance, but one day I checked the clock on the machine and saw the whole process took just about five minutes.  It’s now three weeks later and I’ve got things down to a science, maximizing both efficiency and deliciousness in the process.  What I once felt put out by, has now become second nature.

The thing about slowly changing my habits is that they seemed to naturally snowball into something bigger that I didn’t even intend.  The other habit that I’ve been focusing on is eating healthier home-cooked meals.  Just like with the coffee, I’ve settled into a routine that makes prepping and cooking for myself a manageable commitment.  Now that that’s under control, I’ve noticed positive side effects, such as searching for healthier alternatives for products at the grocery store, or a willingness to go to the gym since I’m feeling the effects of healthy eating on my body, and want to maximize it.

I’m still a ways from being the Super Dyan that I’d like to be, but I think changing simple habits over time will get me there a lot faster than just trying to completely overhaul my life.  If you want to look into the more scientific aspects of establishing habits, here’s a New York Times article that is far more intelligent and sciencey than I could ever be.

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