How one habit begets another

 Mapping how habits hinge on each other helps me figure out what to fix first when it’s all up in the air

How habits hinge on each other

One good habit deserves another. Laura Eades 2014

I veer off course

Imagine my good lifestyle habits, my happiness, are like slowly riding a wobbly bike. A space bike. Trying to get to the moon on a wobbly space bike. Space is full of the unknown forces of science, coming at me like winds and potholes, so I’m pretty easily thrown off course by:

  • Indulgent seasons where the routine changes (Christmas and summer holidays)– I always think, like a social smoker, that I can let it all be excessive for a while, and then come back. But in reality, I’m still in excess mode weeks later
  • Deadlines. Overworked times, where sleep gets sacrificed and I start postponing exercise and ramping up the caffeine. Then booze/food to ‘celebrate’ meeting the deadline – it’s quite a long time later that I get back to rebuilding.
  • Having a baby. (Had recently, thankfully).
  • Illness. (Haven’t had recently, thankfully).

I make a big dramatic tragedy out of falling and failing

Like it used to be after theatre shows when I would have got burnt out, and then feel like I was starting my life all over again.

I’ve felt very sad, starting my life again and again: sad that I’d let even the basics of body and soul go awry; that I’d have to start from the bottom and rebuild again with sleep and exercise and eating concerns resurfacing.

It’s not realistic to expect yourself to be your most disciplined, clean-living self all the time.

Perhaps starting again needs a bit of rebranding

  • It’s just laying the foundations again before I try to be productive.
  • I’m just revisiting the centre point of myself in my spiral/figureofeight lifepath.
  • The soil in my plantpots needs recomposting each year before you replant. (birthday presents for kids, clothes for me).
  • Every now and then you have to peer into the well you draw inspiration from and see if it needs replenishing.

What to prioritise?

I’ve mapped it. Don’t ask me why, but illustrating things helps. It’s about talking to myself in a language my unconscious understands, and so I relax.

With my constellation, I can see where to start. At the centre is the stuff that’s hardest to achieve but has the most profound effect. If I can do some of the central stuff, some of the layers above happen almost by magic.

Do the big things first. Or the little things

But I have options. When I’m getting my head together, sometimes I do some peripheral stuff, like debuggerising my house (getting rid of, and fixing, a few of the household things that make me swear on a daily basis) because it’s the most achievable.

Like, when you’re cleaning up, you start by putting the bins out. Profound, my metaphors, huh? Like, when you’re riding a wobbly bike to the moon, start by just going up and down the street a bit, to see if you like the saddle.

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