My best habits emerge in late January every year.
After a few weeks to try out my New Years resolutions, it becomes apparent what works, and what doesn’t.
As of today, I have kept 5 out of my 12 resolutions for 2015. I suppose I could kick myself for not keeping to all of the decisions I made while I was hung over on New Years Day.
But frankly, I’m not a loser. I learn from my mistakes, and I get better.
Instead of waking up every morning at 5 am, I found a great new waking time: 5 am on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and 6 am on Tuesday & Thursday.
This keeps me in the habit of waking up early, but I still get to catch up on sleep fairly often. During the weekends I sleep until the kids wake up, 7 or 8.
This is new, and better, and different than waking at 5 am every morning. I tried that, and it didn’t work. So I adapted my habit, instead of giving up.
Beating yourself up for failing on a resolution is not going to make you any better. Changing your resolution, though – that’s got legs.
Last year I got really enthusiastic about waking up early. I tried to go 100 consecutive days waking up at 5 in the morning, thinking that if I could eliminate the weekend snooze, it might reduce the difficulty I felt in waking up easily.
I made it 18 days. 5 am, every day, for 18 days. And then, my body rebelled, and demanded some extra sleep to avoid a sickness.
Breaking habits is fine, if you use the lessons to intelligently make better habits.
Now that I have incorporated my need to sleep extra and recuperate on occasion, I average an early wakeup time overall, and I regularly feel refreshed in the morning. This modified habit is better for me to keep, and it is all because I was willing to discard a habit as soon as it became apparent that the habit I was trying to keep was not serving me.
I know how important it seems, to keep to your resolutions. One of Benjamin Franklin’s 13 Virtues was Resolution: “Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.”
But what is really important here? Keeping the habit you have resolved to keep, or finding the habit that suits you best?
Maybe you broke a habit, just because you were looking for a better one.