How often do you have something you know you should do, that you want to do, that you would like to do- but just don’t. Every day? Me too.
Move every day, meditate, eat your vegetables, make your bed- things we should do, that we want to do, that we feel good doing- that are so easy to miss.
Willpower gets in the way. It’s hard to have to decide every day to do something you should. It takes effort and energy and inner strength to choose every day to make a right choice.
So how do you make all those good choices?
Skip the willpower- make a habit.
Willpower is required if you have to make a choice, but if it’s a habit, the choice has already been made- the hard work is done.
You have a lot of habits built into your day already. When you were a kid you had to learn to brush your teeth in the morning and at night. I bet you don’t have to think about it any more- you walk into the bathroom and grab your toothbrush. It doesn’t take any mental energy to choose to do something you know you should do.
But how did brushing your teeth become so easy? It’s not just because it happens every day- it’s because it’s tied to something else! When do you brush your teeth? Right after you wake up and just before getting into bed? Your tooth brushing is tied to your sleep schedule! Maybe you’re an after breakfast and dinner brusher. It’s tied to your eating schedule!
Habits are easier to make and easier to keep when they’re bundled. It takes the willpower out of the equation.
I’m a morning exerciser. If I don’t do it first or second thing, I am going to find any number of other things to do that will get in the way most of the time. I bundle my workouts with waking up so I can make sure I get it done.
Look at your schedule to see what works for you- can you bundle a midday walk with your lunch break? Maybe you stop at the gym everyday on your way home from work to decompress and let your mind release from the pressures of your workday. Do you drive your kids to school every morning? Maybe that drive is just what you need to keep on driving to a yoga or dance class, helping you tune in with yourself and connect with other adults while the kids are away.
What ever works for you- the energy spent figuring out what you WILL do (not what you think you ought to do) will pay off in bulk because you can tie it to something else you must do (eat lunch, drive home from work, take the kids to school) and the effort of willpower is relieved.
Every morning it takes about 10 minutes for my coffee to brew.
I keep a notebook handy by my bed and when I go out to start the coffee, the notebook comes with me. For however long it takes the coffee to brew I free write- not a journal entry, just what ever thoughts flow into and out of my mind. I now have a gentle meditation practice that’s tied to something I do every day. All I had to do was stop setting the auto timer and come out to the kitchen to push the button myself- my whole morning has changed!