Habits come and… are gone!?
We know that it takes 21 days to make a habit, right? Consistently doing something 21 days in a row makes it feel comfortable, or normal, or, at least, not terrible. And the habit is born and can be done with little effort or thought. That’s what a habit is.
How long does it take to stop a habit?
I think it is about 21 seconds.
That’s about how long it takes to wake up, notice the time, and hit “dismiss” on the alarm, and roll over and back to sleep. Do that 21 second activity once or twice, and all that good habit building can slide right down the drain. True story.
I have been a consistent, early morning exerciser for years. Years. First it was just before the “moms” time at the gym…about 7:30 when the 9-5 folks left and before the moms came after dropping their kids off at school. Later, I went earlier when I had a scheduled work situation and at one point, I even went a bit earlier when someone started showing up at “my” time and used “my” machine. Classes at 5:30 a.m. are great… lower attendance and out by 6:30 a.m… time to read the paper and do the crossword while drinking 2 cups of coffee.
However, a little bout of being under the weather recently made it difficult to keep up my early a.m. schedule of working out. I didn’t feel well, wasn’t sleeping well (cough, cough) and pretty soon, that 21-second decision every morning was easy to make.
BUT… I want to stay strong. I want to be able and agile and active. To do that, I have to have regular, intentional exercise. I must work daily at strength and flexibility and balance. I know that at my age, in my third third, if I don’t keep it up I will regret it.
I have tried to figure out a later time to go to the YMCA, my current workout spot. I don’t really HAVE to be working by 8:00 a.m. I have a certain flexibility that comes with being self-employed. I could go later.
BUT, I know that if I don’t get it in early, I won’t get it in. I have proven that too many times to argue, even with myself. The classes and available machines after 6:30 are not the ones I want and the parking spaces are further away. I don’t like to shower midday and once my day is done, I want to do something relaxing. I don’t want to work out. It is early morning or not at all for me.
“Power is the faculty or capacity to act, the strength and potency to accomplish something. It is the vital energy to make choices and decisions. It also includes the capacity to overcome deeply embedded habits and to cultivate higher, more effective ones.” Stephen R. Covey
SO… this week, I am deciding at night that I will get up and go when my alarm goes off. I am taking the 21-second decision off the table and just doing it. Just getting up and going.
BECAUSE… I want to remain agile and able and active and I have a whole lot of my third third left to live with intention and purpose. The good thing is that when it has been a good habit for a long time, even when you take a little break from it, you can get back into it in less than 21 days. Here’s to an active, able, agile 2015!