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Tuesdays with Jerry

Habits

A few days from now will mark one month since the studio closed its doors and much of the world went into hiding for an indefinite amount of time.

As the days go on and the weeks continue, I’m starting to give my quarantine weeks themes.

Week 1: Confused

Week 2: Angry

Week 3: Indifferent

Week 4: Defeated

Of course, each week had days and moments that were riddled with a mix of everything. Including the good stuff! Like lots of FaceTimes with my parents and close friends. And of course, Joe. He likes when Auntie Em tells him about her day. And laughs every time when I start with “Okay so I woke up, I got Jerry his breakfast, and then, Joe, what did Em make? What does Em get up and drink every morning?”

Joe: “COFFEE!!!”

What a guy. He gets it.

The weeks have been filled with lots of walking. I mean a lot of walking. My panic and anxiety walks had me averaging close to 20,000 steps daily. But I know that being outside, any fresh air, helps and makes me feel good. And it’s when I walk I get ideas and think to myself what I want to do once I’m back home. So. Walking it is.

How bizarre is it that about a month ago the idea of shutting down or not being able to go out to eat, or to the gym seemed impossible? That the hard realization of what locking down, social distancing, and true isolation meant was yet to hit us?

Our normal behaviors, habits, and routines have been completely flipped inside out. Yet here we are. Somehow still going on. And whether it has felt for you like one of those adjectives above, or something else, I think it’s important to look at this life we have been forced to live and allow it to give us perspective. A perspective we have never before had.

Dan Crenshaw summed it up well at the end of the first chapter of his book, Fortitude.

From darkness comes realism. 

From realism comes gratitude 

From gratitude comes perspective

When we’re given the gift of perspective, and can look back on what “normal” life of a month ago was, we see it way differently. We can see with this new found perspective now how much we may have taken for granted. Or what habits and routines we had then that we’ve now had to forfeit. More on normal and routine from Jerry here.

This dark and chaotic time has forced us to look at ourselves and our lives. To hold on to anything that feels good and normal, or curl into a ball and hide from it all. I hope most of us can agree that it’s given us the perspective we didn’t know we were missing in order to see things differently and in many ways, more clearly.

When we’re given a different perspective, it can provide clarity if we just allow it to. It can help us re-evaluate who we are and what we accepted as normal and help us see who we want to be and what we will demand of our future normal.

What was it about our daily routines and habits of a month ago that were beneficial and productive and what was not?

And now, in this weird world where we have no choice but to live life in our homes and barely anywhere else, what habits have we adopted that are helping or hurting our current and future selves?

I read a book at the end of February on habits. I was reluctant to read it because I know that at the end of the day, no matter what, if you want to change something or do something, you just have to do it. You have to have discipline. And, yes it will be boring.

But sometimes it helps hearing what we already think we know said in difference ways by different people. Which is why I highly recommend you pick up this book if you’re interested in digging into your habits and routines.

What’s the famous Aristotle quote about habits? It’s probably a common iPhone background or something super lame like that.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

Well, let’s just take that first part.

And think about it in the context of our current world and living situations. We are what we repeatedly do. Well. As these days continue, what are the things you’re doing that give you some sense of joy or purpose? What are you doing that is not serving you or anyone else? Or rather, what are you doing that is only serving you?

Your habits define you.

Allow me to tell you about my day yesterday.

A day that was only serving me. This might make people feel better to know I’m a vulnerable human who gets in moods and has her bad days. Yesterday I barely moved. I didn’t want to get out of bed. So I didn’t. And boy did I hate myself for it. But I gave in and had myself a day. A completely selfish day that did nothing for anyone.

But then today happened. I put that girl of yesterday out of my mind, even though I wanted to keep being her, and instead put my big girl pants on that looked like running shoes and got a freezing cold run in instead to start my day.

Who do you want to be? Courageous? Confident? Tough? Fun?

And now, what actions do you need to take to be that person.

We are what we repeatedly do.

Even when we don’t want to. Actually, especially when we don’t want to. It’s making the choice to do rather than to think. To act rather than say. Each choice we make drives our actions. Our actions become our habits. And our habits make up who we are.

Right now, this is what I know. I know that I feel better when I…

  • Wake up at the same time
  • Get in any type of exercise
  • Publish a post daily by 6:30a – I failed on that one today, opting for a lunchtime post to make sure that I get in the point above
  • Walk
  • Putting a deadline on it – I will clean out that closet by 4p. I won’t let myself watch TV until ___ is done.
  • Talk to a friend or family member
  • Stick to my healthy eating routine

I know me and while I get called out for ignoring rest or setting high expectations on myself that no one else cares about, it simply is who I am. And I am me when I feel productive. And that’s not going to change.

I’m not telling you to workout or you have to average 20,000 steps a day. But if you have a goal for yourself, a habit you want to break, one you want to create, an idea of who you want to be, then maybe start emulating someone that does that. Put your head down, know it will suck, and do it.

You aren’t alone. You aren’t re-inventing the wheel here. In most circumstances, someone has already done what you want to do. Or has characteritics that you want to have yourself. Copy them. A former coworker and graphic designer one time said, “genius steals,” and he was right. These ideas here aren’t my own. They’ve been formed and picked apart by people way smarter than me. I’m just here to learn and do something with it.

Look at your quarantine. And look at your daily quarantine habits. We’re a month in and have adapted to this new temporary normal and therefore we all have a routine of some kind we are following regardless of how boring it is.

Jot down the habits you have now that have saved you. That have given you some joy or purpose. Jot down those that you are ashamed of. The ones that leave you feeling like I felt yesterday. And, by the way, how I felt yesterday is how I feel a lot of days. But I’d rather have a shitty attitude and keep putting in the work than have a shitty attitude and do nothing. I have to keep going. One foot in front of the other.

The answers are always simple, and never easy. We are what we do. Our habits define us. And you have complete control over the choices you make.

Choices drive action. Our actions become our habits. Our habits define who we are.

Remember that genius steals. Emulate those who have something you want. When you have a day you can’t get out of bed, get up and keep going the next day. It will always be your choice whether that bad day becomes a week becomes a month becomes your life.

And you can course correct at any time. If you simply choose to.

Simple. Never easy.

Comments

  • reply
    Margie

    Lots to think about Em. I like the idea of starting a new habit. I dont knoW what that is but i would like to come out of this stronger or maybe just different.

    April 14, 2020

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