Organization

The Art of Making and Breaking Habits

A habit is defined as such; ‘a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.’

I used to bite my nails every day; they were always bitten down past the skin, and they ached constantly. It was a bad habit I had until I was fifteen, and one that made me feel self-conscious for years.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to realise that some of the habits we hold are a lot more subtle, and some we don’t realise we’ve adopted. For instance, when someone is talking to me and I’m nervous, I scratch my right arm with my left hand. I only noticed it last year when a certain conversation I was having lasted more than ten minutes, and my arm began to feel slightly odd after being scratched for so long. When I’m doing public speeches, I do the same, only with my forehead; when I don’t have hair to brush behind my ear, I’ll rub my forehead every few minutes.

Admittedly, these habits of mine get on my nerves.

But I also have good habits. Like rinsing my plate after every meal, so nothing gets stuck on and then you spend less time scrubbing the dishes that evening. Or smoothing my skirt when I sit down and stand up to make sure the fabric is where it should be.

I’ve been thinking about habits, because after today I realise I need to adopt several new ones.

I had my first day in my new job today, working in a reception/office, and whilst many of the actions come naturally (such as replacing paper in the printer if it’s low, or putting cardboard in a separate place to the paper) I realise that not all actions are natural yet. I’ll need to quickly adopt the act of checking inventory, keeping the lost-and-found box in a rotating system so that every Sunday I can throw out the old stuff and make room for the new, and having my morning tea break fifteen minutes early so that the phones are always covered (the phone never goes unanswered).

I’m excited about this job. I have a new manager that I’ll be working under, new co-workers, and a new environment in which I’m working in. I’ll learn new skills, talk to different people more often, and have more responsibilities than I did last year.

But outside of my job, I still have things I want to make routine, such as going running every Tuesday and Thursday (these are my study days, and if I don’t go running I’ll be sitting down all day looking at a computer screen) and cleaning my teeth twice a day (I seemed to have slipped to only once a day, and whilst this gets me by, I don’t think my dentist or my mum would agree).

I’ve also found that one habit may be delicately linked with another. Now that I’m running, I’m needing more water to keep my body functioning as it should. So not only did I buy new running shoes, but a new water bottle was obtained as well (shown in the picture).

What are the habits you want to break this year? Think about it, and make a conscious effort to change things around. Even though it’s not New Years, if you want change, go out and make it happen. Some things take more time than others, and some are easier than others. It took me fifteen years before I was able to stop biting my nails; who knows how long it’ll take before I stop scratching my arm when I’m nervous. And some Thursdays I won’t feel like running, but simply by wanting change I’m motivated to keep it up. I ran yesterday, and in knowing how much better it is for my body is enough for me to want to run next Tuesday.

Doesn’t it say somewhere that it takes twenty-one days to break a habit? Try making each month the month of breaking a habit. By focusing on one, you won’t get overwhelmed or forgetful like you would if you were to focus on five habits at once. Pick one, and go for it. If you want to cook dinner every day, start with tonight. And then tomorrow decide to do it again. And again. And again. And I know that it’s easier said than done (trust me, I know this all too well. I told myself I’d run last year, too, and it only lasted about two weeks), but we have all been made capable to do the tasks set for us.

You got this. If you want it enough, than you’ve already got the drive to set it in motion.

Until tomorrow,

Sarah xx

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