Habits, routine and discipline

I’ve been thinking a lot about how things need to change.  The standard New Year’s resolution stuff. Lose weight, clear the clutter, be more organized, save money, have a cleaner house. All the stuff that most people think about every January and again when school starts.

I’ve spent a lot of time ruminating over these things, and it all comes down to habits, routine, and discipline.

“You are what you repeatedly do. Excellence is not an event — it is a habit.” ~Aristotle

Apparently, I’m not in the habit of being excellent.

Hello. My name is Sandwiched. I’m a recovering perfectionist. The first-born of two first-borns. Perfectionism is both the bane of my existence and a mantle I wear with pride. Depending.

I suffer dreadfully from all-or-nothing thinking. Either I do it exceedingly well, or it’s not worth doing at all.

  • Either my home is spotless, or it’s a sty.
  • Either I’m a gourmet chef, or it’s take out.
  • Either I’m a gym rat, or a couch potato.
  • Either I’m a healthy eater, or a junk food junkie.
  • Either I’m a neatnik (for VERY short stints), or a slob.

Weight loss in and of itself seems to me to be a collection of healthy habits: count calories (or in my case, Points), exercise, drink water, plan meals. My best weight loss has occurred when all of these habits (or as I like to say, the planets) align.

All of it points back to my inability to sustain important habits: doing the same thing at the same time everyday so I don’t forget or blow it off.

But it doesn’t take much to knock me off track. A schedule change, a hospitalization for Mom, a bout of depression can all send me spinning back into chaos.

On the organization front, Flylady has been amazing. I’ve sustained a couple of her habits long enough to see that keeping up with them literally creates peace in my home and in my heart. I’d love to go back to that…so I keep trying.

The main reason that I’ve resisted habits, routine and discipline is that I wanted freedom. The freedom to skip counting Points. Freedom to not have to scrub my bathroom if I don’t feel like it. Freedom to blow off the gym in favor of something more fun.

(Another factor is that chores were always a power struggle growing up. Being the good girl I am, I’d do the chore. And being the perfectionist she is, Mom would tell me how I’d done it wrong, and make me do it again. Repeat ad nauseum. By the time I was 14, I realized that I’d get yelled at whether I did the chore or not, so I chose NOT. But that’s a whole other post.)

But what I’ve started to realize (it only took me 35 years) is that good habits CREATE freedom. If I am able to do the things I need to do without thinking about them, or wasting time and energy wishing I didn’t have to do them or that I had already done them, what PEACE that would bring.

Not to mention the fact that when I am exercising and eating right, I’m at the top of my game. I have the energy for housework, and the ability to think more than two hours ahead, so I can plan meals and social events which enrich everyone’s lives. I have time to think about long term goals for myself and everyone else. It’s got a trickle-down effect on the entire family.

So, now what?

Where do I begin? I’ve always tackled these things in fits and starts.

They say it takes 21 days to make a habit. Maybe I’ll follow Flylady’s example and work on a habit per month.

How about you? What habits work for you, and which ones do you need to work on?

Maybe we can work on it together.


About Kathleen

Kathleen Heuer is a serial arts advocate and volunteer. She is the mom of two beautiful girls, wife to a brilliant nuclear engineer, and referee between her golden retriever and her hissy 18-year-old cat. For more, go to http://about.me/kathleendheuer.
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3 Responses to Habits, routine and discipline

  1. I could have written this post. I love flylady, but I think that I have to clean my whole house and then start doing 15 minutes a day. 🙂 I’m definitely an all or nothing person. Right now my house is a complete and utter sty! Maybe I’ll give flylady another look and maybe I’ll be able to jump in where I’m at…..

  2. Carissa says:

    I actually tried flylady once… Talk about more overwhelming than doing it on your own! The emails alone!! I did like the shine your sink thing though!

  3. I am completely an all or nothing person too! But the way I see it, when I go all in comes out way better than if I tried to keep it up all the time. I’ve never been one for moderation and I think excellence is just the other end of the spectrum from failure… it’s more exciting to slide back and forth than just stay in the middle!

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