I’ve been reading Gretchen Rubin‘s blog for a long time, including (I think) the whole time she was writing this book, so wasn’t sure how much I would get from reading Better than Before. A lot of the ideas in it I’d seen in her blog, but actually having it all in one place at one time was a helpful prompt for me to think about my habits. Bonus: one of my friends was reading it at the same time which made for a spontaneous book club! We made time on a Sunday afternoon to video-chat about it.
One of the most helpful ideas in there was this one of “questioner”, “rebel”, “obliger”, “upholder” which is about what prompts you to get things done – because you consider it and deem it worthwhile, because you feel like it, because other people want to, because of any kind of commitment. I’m a questioner. Questioners come with either rebel or obliger tendencies, and I couldn’t decide which I had! This prompted me to spend May trying to eliminate my obliger tendencies, something I called #choosememay. In May I made a point of when it came to a decision between myself and some imaginary obligation, I chose myself. It was amazing. I’ve been trying to keep parts of that with me once the month ended, with mixed success.
The focus is on finding what works for you. This caused me to realise things like the reason why I have never got a morning gym habit going for long is that I like working out in the evening too much (it allows me to disconnect from my day). I see morning workouts as an opportunity to do a double, not replace my evening me-time. So for example I’ll miss a morning workout because “now I’ll have to work out this evening” when the truth is I just want to work out in the evening. As a result I started to experiment with breaking my workout in two, and doing half in the morning and half in the evening. This worked really well and I super enjoyed it, but did eat into my work day a bit. Still working on finding a balance there.
Another type is whether you are an abstainer or moderator. Do you abstain completely? Or do you moderate and have a little? A friend and I talked about things where we will say abstain for part of the day. For example: no carbs after 2pm. Reflecting on this I realised something that sounds really obvious – if you are a moderator you have to actually moderate, and these “partial abstention” strategies are actually strategies for moderation. This has also prompted me to look for ways to moderate. For example with food not finishing things I’m not enjoying, and reminding myself “I had X earlier” which is a more positive framing than “I shouldn’t have that”.
Loopholes – the excuses we make to ourselves to justify our choices – are a big topic! And as a result I’ve also been thinking more about the excuses I make. Maybe it’s also turning 30, but when I catch myself I think about how this is my life, not a loophole. It’s making it easier to make good choices.
There’s a quote “habits are the foundation of our lives” and it’s true. Better than Before is worth reading – it’s inspired me to be more mindful of the foundation of my life.