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.

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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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