2021: Habit

Shakey Bridge, Cork

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

~Will Durant, paraphrasing Aristotle

I used to be a fan of setting a word as an intention for the year. I fell off it at some point, or at least off documenting it, I think around the time that my word, in all honesty, was “survive”.

If I was to capture 2020 in a word it would have been “restore”. I restored order to my life by tacking “life debt”. I restored myself – up to a point – through changing the aspects of my life that were causing disproportionate stress. As the year came to a close, I finally made progress on restoring my sense of creativity.

Coming into 2021, of course I have some goals (complete my coaching certification, finish the second renovation – the attic), but generally I am more interested in building – or rebuilding – habits that support the way I want my life to be.

Habits were something I struggled with in 2020, with the constant disruption of a pandemic derailing my “usual” things and background anxiety a drag on progress. I rebuilt my exercise habit multiple times under different constraints with varying levels of success. I struggled to rebuild my reading habit, read primarily novels, and probably less than any other year. I lost my habit of writing regularly, and despite much angsting about it, failed to make meaningful progress on repairing it. I lost my usual good habits around keeping in touch with people, was worse at reaching out, less good at responding…

But then, habits also helped in 2020. One of the good things that started in lockdown and went on for most of the year was a regular movie night. For all I struggled with rebuilding my exercise habit (and anxiety around the gym I used to train at caused me to switch to a new one), I did exercise pretty consistently for most of the year, and I completed a kayaking certification. I embraced skincare as a hobby and cemented various habits there. My work habits remained pretty stable, and since switching jobs I now maintain pretty reasonable European work hours, which has been big a win for my overall quality of life.

Coming into 2021, the focus for January is on two things that are daily habits. The first is the continuation of my 12 days of creativity, the January #MakeDontBreak challenge. The second is a course I’m taking with my coach, Positive Intelligence, which has me doing multiple things every day called “PQ reps”.

I’m debating how I will fit the word “habit” into my life in 2021, maybe I’ll chose another daily habit for February, or maybe I’ll focus on overhauling my regular task lists to support a different assortment of things. I hope it will help ground me amid the uncertainty of living through a pandemic, of surviving the chaos of 2020-part 2.

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