“What we do everyday is the architecture of our life.”
~ Gretchen Rubin
As a wild heart creative R.E.b.E.L., I’ve come to love the practise of habits as an increasingly important part of my day. For me, habits are the difference between running around in circles like a crazy: and ease of flow… the difference between waking up everyday feeling rubbish: and optimal wellness… the difference between struggle town: and creating the life that sets you free.
Habits could look like :
* the first thing you do in the morning
* an exercise routine
* what you eat
* how many times you go on social media each day
* whether you arrive late, early or on time
* …anything at all…
In other words, habits could be your routine of Self Care. They form the bones of your Rhythm to ensure life flows at a pace that suits you. Habits ensure you achieve the things most important to you and that you are using your time in ways that promote that which brings you joy.
Of course, habits could also be the things that keep you sick, cranky, and unhappy. Your habits can ensure you give all of your time to everyone else, you stay in a shitty job and eat garbage for lunch everyday….
Habits, like anything that contributes to creating a life that sets you free, are a choice. When activities are chosen again and again they become a structure in our day. The activities we choose are the habits we form and the life we create.
Research shows that the more you practise a habit the easier it is to make that activity a part of your normal routine. In other words, doing something everyday versus every second day, or “on Tuesdays when the sun is out” results in habits sticking more. Telling yourself “I will eat more vegetables on Wednesdays” is a beginning to a healthier eating protocol, but it won’t help eating more vegetables become a normal part of your life. Choose habits that will give you the most bang for your buck : often, and as part of a routine that works for you.
I’ve noticed for myself that when I attempt to add a heap of new activities at once, I get overwhelmed and end up giving up on all of them! One new habit change at a time is how they stick for me. So I might have four things I’m working on eg. more outside time, no sugar, swim everyday, and write. Four visions to set on the target, but only one can be in the centre. Each time I take aim, I’m shooting for the centre (one habit), and even if I don’t get that one exact, there’s another three on the outside that I’m also likely to hit. Focusing on the habit in the centre again and again ensures I will achieve it enough times to make it a normal part of my flow. Once that activity has worked itself into my everyday flow as a habit, I will focus on another.
I’ve learned so much about habits from writer and researcher Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen is obsessed with how people form and shape habits, and how that shows up in a person’s life. She has developed a framework for understanding how you as an individual relate to habit forming, called the Four Tendencies.
The Four Tendencies show that when it comes to habits, there are four types of people. Understanding your type and how you show up in the world helps to form habits that serve you. The different types explain how we meet inner and outer expectations. When you know how you are likely to react to the choice you are making, it helps to tap straight into your wiring:
Upholders will meet internal and external obligations. eg. “I go to the gym in the mornings after breakfast, therefore, I am going to the gym after breakfast.”
Obligers will easily meet external obligations but struggle with internal expectations. eg. “I know I should go to the gym but here is ten excuses why I won’t go today” versus “Sally is expecting me to meet her at the gym, I’ll be there.”
Questioners will easily meet internal expectations but will fail to meet external expectations. eg. “I know going to the gym will contribute to overall health and wellness because here’s all the studies I’ve read, and when I go to the gym everything in my day is better, and I have fun at the gym. I’m going to the gym.” Questioners will not go because someone else expects them to, and will not sign up for a gym that calls you when you don’t show up.
Rebels will kick out at internal and external expectations. eg. “I know I’ll feel better if I go to the gym, and I want to go to the gym, but Sally wants me to go everyday with her and the morning doesn’t suit me so fuck it, I’m not going to go at all.”
I am a Questioner with a Rebel overlay (surprise surprise!) so when forming new habits, it’s important for me to research, understand and make a decision based on what is right for me. Once I’ve made that decision, I find it easy to meet the action plan… I can meet my own expectations with general ease, until someone else is expecting me to do something. Then my Rebel Self kicks in and says “You can’t tell me what to do. This habit does not make me who I am!” I’ve found the concept of “Being a Person Who…” very important in this : “I am a person who goes to the gym. I am not a person who makes excuses.” This reminds the Rebel of the overall goal.
Gretchin shares a lot of info about the Four Tendencies on her podcast Happier and is currently writing a book about her research for the Four Tendencies. You can take a test on her website to find out what your type is. I’d love to hear what your type is and how you notice that showing up for you! Let us all know in the comments below.
Happy habit making dear heart, and remember these three points I often tell myself :
Wherever you are, is the perfect place to start.
No need for comparison.
Follow your wild heart.
May everyday be in flow with the You you truly Be.