There go those shoulds again, getting in the way of me being my most productive, effective, happy, joyful, creative self.
This time they have masqueraded themselves in the form of habits, the ones I feel I should have and when I should practice them.
Don’t get me wrong, here, I am a motherfreaking believe in the power of habits, but for a long time, I’ve thought I didn’t possess much willpower because I had a hard time making a lot of them stick.
Boy, was I wrong.
And, this has become evidently clear to me since I’ve started building a business off of doing something that lights me up.
Let me explain…
I am currently reading two books related to this topic from two very different angles:
1. Gretchen Rubin’s, BETTER THAN BEFORE: MASTERING THE HABITS OF OUR EVERYDAY LIVES
2. Chase Jarvis’, CREATIVE CALLING: ESTABLISH A DAILY PRACTICE, INFUSE YOUR WORLD WITH MEANING, AND SUCCEED IN WORK + LIFE
…and I’ve had an epiphany.
The point of infusing habits into the way you live your life is to, in fact, improve YOUR quality of life and the way YOU progress through your days.
In theory, the habits you adopt are based on your own personal values and ambitions.
You might be saying, duh Steph.
But, I had to seriously sit down and think about what that looked like to me. What habits do I have that I don’t even notice anymore because they work so well for ME?
Immediately, two things came to mind:
- My Mornings are where most of my healthy habits live.
- When I have a real understanding of how something will make me a better version of myself, I have no problem creating a habit around it…if I really care about it.
For instance, my habits revolve greatly around health, curiosity, growth, and creativity.
In other words, eating healthily, fresh air, exercise, reading, learning, self-reflection, and creating.
“The greatest of empires, is the empire over one’s self.”
— PUBLILIUS SYRUS
MY IDEAL MORNING RITUAL:
Although the order varies depending on dog mom life….my morning is loaded with habits.
- I commit to drinking a glass of water with apple cider vinegar before I allow myself a delectable caffeinated beverage.
- I read something to expand the way I see myself or the world with a highlighter in hand (currently, Creative Calling by Chase Jarvis).
- I flow right from inspiration station into flexing my creative muscle (free write for 30+ mins).
- Then, I journal/brain dump my thoughts, my to-dos, my ambitions.
- And then I plan 2 musts, 2 shoulds, and 2 would be nices for my day.
- Create beautifully colour coordinated time blocks around said plans.
- Proceed to crush day ahead as my most zen-like badass self.
It has taken me years to determine that these are the morning habits that work best for me. And, now, I protect it FIERCELY.
If, for whatever reason, I am unable to get to it first thing in the morning because #life. I ALWAYS come back around to whatever part of it I can.
“The goal is to develop habits that allow us to have time for everything we value—work, fun, exercise, friends, errands, study—in a way that’s sustainable, forever. Favouring work at the expense of everything else makes work itself less pleasant, diminishes quality of life, and creates a constant feeling of “emergency.” Also. what happens if a person sacrifices a social life to write a book, the books is published, and it fails? The price would be too high. Even if the book were a success, the price would be too high.”Gretchen Rubin
Now, that being said, I am always trying to improve my days, my work, myself, so I am constantly experimenting with my habits.
For the last year, I have been TRYING to add working out to this morning ritual lineup and have ultimately wound up feeling disappointed in myself most days.
That is until one night (literally last night) I finally accepted that “Oh shit! I don’t have to work out in the morning if I don’t want to!”
I had gotten into this headspace that because I’ve read somewhere one time that the most successful people on the planet work out first thing in the morning that I should too.
But, guess what? That’s not working for me right now.
And there’s a difference between keeping yourself accountable to something, and just going against that oh-so stubborn/wise internal clock.
As previously mentioned, my mornings are sacred to me. They are my favourite time of day.
After years of working in an industry that required me to accept nightowldem, I am beyond grateful for my quiet early mornings. Thus, fierce protection mode.
Give me quiet, a book, a pen, and a coffee, and I am a freaking happy camper.
But, I constantly felt myself feeling like a “failure” every time I didn’t add a workout at the end of it.
I often would find myself just flowing into work instead…creativity muscle activated.
Turns out…it’s MY routine…so I get to choose where things go. Whoda thunk it?
So, I sat down, and thought to myself…when do I want to work out? When would it most fire me up?
Academically (from years of reading about habits), I said the morning.
But, intuitively, I know that I have never in my life been the type of person who loves or thrives off of a morning workout.
Um, duh Steph!
So I’m switching things up.
I know myself, and I am 70% more likely to commit to actually do something if it’s colour-coded in my Google Calendar (calendar blocking all day errday).
So what makes the most sense for me?
My me time is usually somewhere around 5-8, then get dressed (maybe)/dog mom life, and then settled into my desk by 9-10. My most productive/inspired hours are generally somewhere between 10-12.
And, then 1 o’clock hits and I’m a bit of a zombie craving more coffee.
Ding ding ding.
A lunchtime workout would give me the boost I need to crush the afternoon, and sits way better into the daily rhythms of my day.
WHY AM I TELLING YOU ALL OF THIS?
Because I want you to understand that there is no “one way” to create the most epic day.
In fact, there is no “one way” to do anything, but I’ll save that tangent for another day.
Your routine, your habits, your rituals are going to be entirely unique to your needs.
So, you need to sit down and decide what matters the most to you, and who you want to be. And, then decide what that looks like for you on a daily basis.
What do you value the most?
What aren’t you doing now that you know would make you a happier person?
What are your ambitions?
What small changes can you make to take you one step closer to them?
Look at your answers, and think honestly + realistically…what habits are aligned with all of this?
Want to dedicate more time to creativity?
- Develop the habit of bringing a sketchpad or notebook with you everywhere you go.
- Free write in a journal as you drink your morning coffee.
- Commit to taking one picture every day
- Sing one song.
Want to read more?
- Carry a book with you everywhere you go.
- Listen to audiobooks.
- Get in the habit of drinking your tea in bed with a book.
- Have a book on your nightstand at all times.
- Set a no-more-TV time.
- Play around with genres until you actually find one you like (not just because you think it’s what the cool kids are doing).
Want to master something new?
- Make a habit of spending 30 minutes every day reading about or executing that new thing.
- Take classes that actually interest you in platforms like Skillshare (2-Free Weeks When You Click) or Creative Live.
- Take an in-human form class.
- Just start.
“This is one of the biggest secrets of the most creative, happy, successful people: Just start.”Chase Jarvis
I could go on for about a million years, but I think you get what I’m putting down.
Decide what matters the most to you, commit to making it happen in big + small ways every day, and then SCHEDULE them.
Google Calendar is my best friend. I have a colour for every faction of my life and I insert the new habits I’m trying to insert into my daily routine into that calendar.
Look, I know it sounds intense, but I can promise you, I am not the type of person who thrives off of rigid schedules #nothankyou. Very much a flowing with the going type of human.
But, taking the time to insert things into your calendar (whatever that looks like to you) that do not revolve around work but rather your ambitions for yourself in all aspects of your life, serve as an amazing reminder every day of what really matters. Of what is going to take you to that next-level badass version of yourself.
Of what is going to lead you to create the life of YOUR dreams.
It has redefined my definition of success and the ways I celebrate myself.
And, I bet it just might do the same for you.