Since yesterday’s blog post was about habits and keeping the streak alive, I suppose it would be really hypocritical of me to not post again today and hopefully tomorrow and so on. Habits have to begin somewhere, right?
What causes us to abandon our habits are distractions. Sure there’re many things that cause us to abandon our habits, and some habits should be abandoned if they’re bad ones. No matter what that thing is though, essentially it’s something that distracts us from our habit at the normal time we do it. if you have a habit of getting up at 5:30 each morning to exercise before the day starts,
Let’s look at a habit most of us would like to have if we don’t already. You have a habit of getting up really early, say at 5:30 each morning, to exercise before the day starts. Fantastic habit. I’m still working on getting that one permanently established. In order to make this habit work, there’s actually a lot of things that go into the process. Having a distraction at any of these points can kill or seriously degrade the habit.
If you want to get up at 5:30 am, that probably means you need to go to bed no later than 11 pm the night before. Many experts would say you need to go to bed even earlier, but I believe the amount of sleep we need is unique to each person. You decide what your number is and stick to it. To go to bed at 11 pm, that means you probably have to start your night-time get-ready-for-bed routine by 10:30 pm or so.
This might include a bath or shower, brushing your teeth, prayer, journaling, reviewing goals, setting up the next day’s tasks and schedule, reading or any number of other things. It might mean none of these, but there is generally SOME routine you follow before your head hits the pillow, right?
So, what happens if you find there’s a TV show that stays on until 11 pm that you REALLY, REALLY want to watch live because you know all your friends will be talking about it at work the next day? You can’t DVR it, because, SPOILERS! If you stay up and watch, you might not get to bed until 11:30 instead of 11 pm. Maybe that’s not enough to derail your exercise habit yet. But once you distract yourself from your routine once on a regular basis, it’s far easier to do it again until you find an excuse to stay up an extra 30 minutes every night.
Then you find an excuse to stay up until midnight and so on. That itself becomes a habit that will distract you from the more important one of getting up early to exercise. You’ll skip a day here and there because you’re SO tired and need the sleep. You condition your body to go to bed later and get up later. The amount of sleep is actually less important than the conditioned times. You’ve distracted yourself from the primary habit.
Now that you can’t get up at 5:30 am, you might be able to push it back and still exercise, but will you? Most of us have a very fixed routine in the mornings because we have to get kids off to school and ourselves to work, whether for someone else, in our own small business or our home business. There’s rarely the flexibility to keep pushing our morning start back because we want to stay up later the night before.
That’s one distraction that can grow to affect your entire life, not just the next morning. Your health can get worse because you’re not burning calories or losing weight. Maybe you’re gaining it. Your endurance drops, meaning you also get less done. Your mental sharpness falls too when you aren’t active enough. Your drive diminishes overall.
This is just one small distraction that drastically changes your life, and you won’t even connect it until it’s too late because how could staying up an extra 30 minutes one night possibly do all this? It does because every action has a result and that result has an impact on something else. Our entire lives are an interconnected web of relationships, actions, reactions and responsibilities. Tug on on one part of the web and you can affect something way over on the other side of your life. You won’t even know what caused the change without a deep look at your entire life.
Distractions are good sometimes. We need to let go of our worries, problems and difficulties for a little while to recharge. We need to just stop some habits or thinking about some things because they’re not productive. But a distraction from our normal routine and way of doing things that are not planned and carefully considered can have a disastrous effect on the rest of our lives.
Distract yourself from your problems and bad habits. Never use a distraction to get away from the good habits, things and people in your life.