As I write this, we are in Day 10 of 21 Days to Reset. Earlier this week we talked about the power of habit. One of my favorite quotes from Charles Duhigg reads, “This is the real power of habit: the insight that your habits are what you choose them to be.”
That’s a pretty powerful idea. Consider this statement:
“I have to go to ____ ” or “I have to do ____.”
Operative words: “have to“
From time to time, I catch myself feeling burdened by the commitments I know I want to be a part of, or my own deadlines I set for myself, or even my daily schedule. I say this in the present tense because I’m in the process of practicing the tactic to remove that “have to” kind of language from my vocabulary. I don’t know if it’s a realistic goal to think I can remove it entirely, but I do think it is a helpful practice to shift our internal dialogues as much as working to improve any external communication.
An example I’m working on:
When Stephen asks me, “Are you free for dinner?” instead of saying “I have to teach” I have started to simply say “I”m teaching then, how about tomorrow?”
The insight that “your habits are what you choose them to be” include the decision to get up early for that AM workout or not, sure, but it also includes the way we think of and speak to ourselves, and the way we react to the world around us.
It’s also important, I think, to recognize when we are improving in our self talk. If you’re like me, you might look more at where there is room for improvement and growth, rather than choosing to spend time appreciating where you are or how far you’ve come.
As I reflect on the past half year on the road, my mindset has shifted dramatically. Looking back now it feels like a relief to be where I am in terms of my headspace, but it was not easy to get here. A lot of time spent in the trenches with my thoughts, experiencing tons of negativity towards myself, a lot of imposter syndrome, a lot of fear that I made the wrong choice … just to name a few recurring thoughts. But for me, naming it, sitting with it, acknowledging that it was real but deciding it didn’t define me was an important step in the process.
Now, I can say with a lot of gratitude that when we arrive to a new spot, I feel ease in a lot of new ways. I don’t instantly jump into go-go-go mode, trying to see and do everything (which can be exhausting and end in an inevitable let-down). Now, I say to myself: whatever we end up doing is what we’re supposed to do. Whoever I meet is who I’m supposed to meet. No more, no less. It’s right as it is.
Yesterday I made a simple choice to sit outside to eat. I was snarfing food down by my computer – a usual habit of mine. The momentum of continuing on with what we regularly/normally/most often do makes it quite difficult to halt and make a shift. So it’s no wonder that because I am used to working while eating, I typically just continue to do that daily. Even when the weather was like the view from that photo above.
But that’s why this practice of becoming more aware – through journaling, meditation, breathing, or whatever your tool for pausing with purpose may be – is so impactful. It gives us the power to pull those tools into the moments when we need them most. Journaling throughout this 21 Days to Reset commitment helped me, I believe, to look outside while taking a bite of my food and think, “why am I not out there?”
I managed to shift from the momentum of go-go-go in that moment. I closed my laptop and brought a book outside with me.
This was a small moment. But to me, and for the things I’m working on, it was anything but small. It was a reminder of the choice I have to create my own reality. One that is full of those purposeful pauses.
Choice is a powerful thing, and it is a privilege. How are you honoring yourself by choosing how you want to show up for yourself? Even if just for today? Perhaps, especially just for today.