2020 was a significant year we will always remember. Not only because of all that had happened on a global scale but the disruption that our personal lives faced too. Goals, plans and dreams may have come to a halt, however it gave me an opportunity to reflect on how I choose to “show up” when things don’t go my way.
To an extent we all value routine. Whether it’s how you like to start your day or how you prefer to warm up before a workout. Humans are creatures of habit and routine is often what keeps us feeling productive in our everyday lives. When we deviate from our routine, it feels like we’ve lost control, but this isn’t the truth. Understanding how our habits contribute to the effectiveness of our routines is a game-changer. Let’s unpack this further, shall we?
Routines are guidelines, not religion
Habits and routines work hand-in-hand. Our habits (defined as things we do often and regularly) create a routine. And vice versa, our routine is made up of a set of habits. Often we treat our routines like religion and that if we don’t follow it, we are doomed. However, what we should be doing is seeing routines as guidelines because sometimes things don’t go as planned. If habits are the basis of routines, ask yourself:
When you feel like you’re burning out, what self-care habits do you practise?
If you’re constantly submitting assignments late, how do you prioritise time-management?
Are your current habits leading you towards achieving your goals or away from them?
Creating and practising sustainable habits will enable you to be flexible with your routine and place you in good stead no matter what life throws your way.
Losing control doesn’t equate to losing life
When things happen that are beyond your control, what story are you telling yourself? Are they constructive thoughts or negative thoughts?
As humans we are a meaning-making species. The way our minds are wired is that we must make meaning out of everything. For example, if a friend ignores you at a social function even if you don’t know the reason, subconsciously you’re making up some kind of meaning as to why they’re ignoring you. Sound familiar?
Losing control isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes it gives us the opportunity to be creative and think of different ways to get things done. Next time you find yourself in a situation where you feel like you’re losing control, catch that thought and intentionally ask yourself, what meaning am I making out of this? Having perspective is often the difference between us feeling good or bad about ourselves. Magic is, you get to choose.
Celebrate the small wins
Every day we perform activities which qualify as wins. This could be as simple as getting up on time or making your bed before leaving the house. Often, we measure the success of our days by how busy we are. It is totally normal to feel a great sense of satisfaction when you are busy but how do you measure the success of your day if you haven’t got much to do? To cultivate a winning habit within yourself, be sure to:
Notice them. When you are rushing from one thing to the next, it’s hard to acknowledge small wins. A habit you could practise is at the end of each day reflect on your wins. Either write them down in your phone or say them out loud. By doing this type of reflection you learn to appreciate yourself and intentionally acknowledge your efforts.
Get excited. As you get older in life you tend to lose a bit of excitement around your wins. It’s almost like if it’s not a significant win, it’s not worth celebrating. Get out of your own way and recognise your wins. If you need to tell someone about it, do it. If you want to post about it, do it. Celebrating your wins (big or small) will increase your happiness in the smallest but most profound ways.
Reward yourself. When you make those wins, treat yourself. Could be a glass of wine or fancy dinner out. In the long run it will motivate you to maintain focus and keep on winning.
There is no one-size-fits-all or three-step procedure that will prepare us for unexpected times in our lives. However learning good habits (and unlearning bad ones), having perspective when things don’t go the way we hoped and celebrating our small wins along the way will enable us to experience more joy.
This year is yours. Take it.
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