Hello everybody, welcome to Episode 18 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where answer your questions on life right here on the show.
I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino, and don’t ya know it we have another episode on habits today BUT stay with me because this one has a different look to it for sure!
Habits are popular these days — they’re multifaceted with all sorts of layers (kinda like onions). Today we're peeling back yet another layer and discussing habits in a way we haven’t yet.
So let’s take a look at what we have for this episode…
QUESTION: “How do you manage to keep your habits and routine healthy? How do you avoid turning a habit into a burden that makes you feel bad, stressed or anxious when you can't do it (because you're not in your everyday environment or simply because you can't do your usual routine)? I don't know if I was clear, but I hope you understood what I mean!”
Healthy Habits and Independence
I do! I do understand and it's a good question.
To keep the relationship with our habits healthy, I think it’s important to consider a crucial element in any healthy relationship, and that element is independence.
Right? No relationship functions and no good relationship really starts if each party doesn’t first have a degree of value within themselves, and are looking to supplement their lives with something instead of giving their lives over to something or being codependent on something — or someone.
The same is true of the relationship with habits. If you want to have a good relationship with your habits, you have to be appropriately detached from them. You must realize that while good habits are great tools in life that are objectively helpful to you, you still have value without them and you are more than just the sum of your habits — just like in a healthy romantic relationship where you are more than just the identity of your partner.
You're More Than Your Habits
Feeling bad, stressed or anxious during times in which habit maintenance is difficult are feelings that come because you’re equating yourself to your habits. Therefore these feelings have everything to do with how you see yourself rather than how you see your habits.
So I think the first step for you is to step back and remind yourself that you are more than your habits. Poke and prod yourself a little bit to get clear about why this is. What good do you put into the world that has nothing to do with the habits you make a point of performing? What great things have been in your life before you started getting so strict about your habits? How many people care about you regardless of your habits?
Good habits are wonderful. Hell, over time, they have the potential to be life changing. But there is still more to life. There is more to life that brings us value, and there is more to life that we have to attend to.
Coming to terms with this is an essential step before proceeding on a journey of good, conscious habit building. Ideally it’s a good thing to know at first, but any time is a-ok so try getting comfortable with this now.
Life happens and it gets in the way of our habits. If it hasn’t happened yet, it will eventually. The more we perform our habits with diligence and devotion, the easier it is to get married to our little habit streaks and the more they become a part of us.
It’s key to not let them become too big a part of us, because the more emphasis we put on upholding these streaks AKA this part of our identity, the more difficult and consuming they stand to become. You must accept as soon as possible that you’re going to fall of the wagon at some point in time. You just will. There’s relief in accepting this — it’s the same thing as forgiving ourselves or others for mistakes or setbacks that happen in spite of the best intentions and efforts behind them.
Now let’s talk a little about how to handle these setbacks.
Habits and Circumstantial Changes
Before doing so, however, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that there IS a difference between leaving habits behind because they aren’t enjoyable and leaving habits behind because our environment doesn’t help us — like if we’re on vacation or something which I believe this question is about.
If you’re letting your habits go because of a lack of enthusiasm, I’m gonna go head and refer you back to Episode 1 which talks a lot about that. Plus, I already repeat myself too much on this show so I’m gonna go ahead and not do that this time.
But if it is indeed just a circumstantial change that’s affecting your habit performance, then I urge you to reflect on the following: Why do we make a point of performing good habits?
We do this for the purpose of improving. Habits are extremely purpose driven — they’re deliberate and require effort, they’re not lackluster.
Maintain Purpose and Awareness
If you’re unable to perform your healthy habits the way you’d usually like to, what you CAN do is maintain the sense of purpose and awareness that comes with them. Bring that same vigor to times that habits can’t be performed. This means to be as aware when you’re not performing them as you are when you ARE performing them. Outwardly acknowledge all of that habits you’re not doing that you otherwise would be.
To some, this might sound like a means of shaming oneself or some type of mental torture — it is not. Because habits require effort and action, it is essential to maintain these things as best as possible and keep our minds alert about habits even if our bodies are unable to perform them.
It’s not like NOT performing your habits for a day is going to cause them to just vanish and your life crashes and burns into a complete dumpster fire — it doesn’t work that way. Well, maybe steadily, but not right away. You’re more at risk to feel permanent habit loss or this feeling of falling off the wagon or sense of incompletion if your mind does not stay alert to the habits. Once you stop making at least the mental effort, and say, “I can’t do them right now, so I’ll just forget about them and probably pick them back up soon,” that’s when you’re asking for trouble.
So stay aware, accept the times that you can’t perform your habits in spite of your best efforts, and as soon as you can, just get back on the train and start performing your habits again.
If you miss one day, allow it, move on, and restart the next day, or as soon as you realistically can.
It’s the best you can do, is it not? It really doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.
All righty. Habits: Chapter 70,000 is in the books.
Ah, just kidding. Habits are important to talk about and we wouldn’t have made this episode if we didn’t want to talk about them, so if you guys still have unique questions pertaining to habits, please send them on in and we’ll be happy to have a look at them.
You can submit your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll get them answered for you here on the show so long as they’re appropriate and haven’t been answered in a previous episode. But that does it for this one, friends. Have a great day, everybody!