What Makes A Habit

7:15 am Disciple, Learning, Observations

So now the weekend is here. I have family visiting, this is a busy, packed day ahead. All good reasons to take a break – or set a standard for a periodic Sabbatical.

The rules are – there are no rules. Hmm, that seems scary or intimidating to me.

In trying to develop foundational habits, when do you make an exception? I can think of two times. 1) When you must and 2)When you decide it’s OK to.

1) Don’t get so wound up in trying to start something that it becomes an obsession. For some an obsession is good – they might call it a passion, or even a hobby. But I have a compulsive nature, obsessions can steal away from essentials in life and also create an imbalance. Gaining a balance in life is important to me and so I temper my desire to “get up and going” with something with the desire not to destroy current initiatives or even relationships.

On the other hand, there needs to be a big enough desire, a big enough push to overcome the inertia of doing nothing that there should be no, er, few exceptions to the rule. The question has to be asked, “Are these circumstances that cause me to miss doing what, when I step back and think it through, I really want to be doing? Or, it this life’s surf crashing against my plans and I need to decide if my plans are valuable enough to build up a resistance?”

Well right now, I have a wee bit of momentum – for today, my Scriptures are read, oh – I still have some writing to do… I did leave that undone, but my lesson for latter this morning is prepared, and I’m blogging now. So this will be one wave resisted.

2) There are some habits that must be done to avoid physical ramifications (like eating and good breathing, and believe it or not regular vigorous exercise… we’ll tackle that one soon enough), and there are others that have embarrassment as a result – like deciding it’s not worth it to get dressed before heading out for the day. This might not only be embarrassing, but it might end up with civil penalties on most parts of the world.

While all that is true, there are some habits that it may never matter if you take them up or not. Writing is a great example. Many people don’t write. In fact many people give up reading anything longer than the first couple paragraphs of a news story or even street signs once they get away from any formal education. So taking up writing as a habit is definitely not necessary. You won’t physically suffer, you won’t even be embarrassed (unless, of course you’ve gone and told everybody that your novel is coming out soon and they start asking probing questions about the plot, the character, and how your spending that big advance from the publisher – making up fanciful stories to impress your friends is a habit you should get rid of. I’m talking about building habits, not removing them. Some other time).

These “non-essential” habits can make huge differences in your life though. They can break up monotony, they can be a foundation for new achievements and enable you to reach places you couldn’t otherwise (these are the kinds of habits I’m looking to build up here).

These are the habits that might go unnoticed if you don’t start them, but that people will surely notice once they’re established. So can you decide to take a break from them? At your peril! Well, let me back off from that a bit. It’s good to know you can take a break and get back to it. That’s a sign that the habit is engrained and you have developed a patter of behavior or skill. But the danger is the ease at which a building habit can be abandoned.

I guess I’m talking in theory here, but you should be able to hold your plans loosely enough that you aren’t reduced to a pile of tears and disappointment if you miss a day or an opportunity to continue your habit. I’m not there yet. So I will soldier on with today’s entry.

Hmm, can you till it was later in the morning and I was trying to hold two conversations while composing this? I can. See you tomorrow.

Tomorrow I want to talk about “To Do’s” vs. “Will Do’s”