Habit: June & July

At the start of the year I wrote that my word for 2021 was habit. In January, I challenged myself to do something creative every day, a habit that I’ve continued (although not quite as diligently).

In February, I challenged myself to do two things every day: read a book and exercise. I continued challenging myself to exercise in March, but replaced books with email.

In April the habits I committed to were skincare, and human contact.

May was a consolidation month – I focused on all the habits so far this year, trying to do two+ of them on any given day.

June started as a consolidation month, but I was challenged in Balance to write every day (notably I ended my last habit post with the comment “I feel like I’m trying to work up to the habit of writing.”) In July, I (tried) to embrace two habits: exercise, and writing.

Exercise is what I think of as a “foundation habit” – when it’s going well, things fall into place. When it’s not… everything goes to hell and it’s my starting point to get back on track. I know if I can find some rhythm there everything will seem better, and it’s easier to focus on one thing than… everything.

This time around it’s been less about just showing up and more about broadening / refining.

  • The swimming pool is finally open again, and I’ve been happy (although at times a bit strung out) to be back in the pool.
  • I’m trying to do more (or: some) yoga to improve flexibility / decompress, especially on days I don’t swim.
  • I’m trying to add back in weights / situps.

Mixed success with the above. I’ve been really enjoying swimming on our trips, but not as much at my “usual” gym. The pool is crowded, and the lockers have been really gross. I’m so annoyed, because I switched gyms last year and this one was so much better before the last lockdown but now… it’s not. Also, the app doesn’t work, and so each time I want to swim I have to make a phone call. I found yet another option within walking distance, but their pool is closed entirely because of COVID. A beautiful new gym opened ~20 minutes walk away, but they have a “thermal suite” aka something smaller than a swimming pool you can’t really do laps in (not that I didn’t try, but swimming against a current is nice as a one off, not as my main pool). There’s one that would be a long (30 minute) walk or a 10 minute drive, but that seems excessive / stressful when everything is still so rigid and requires booking. I hate having to book every work out. HATE IT.

My big success in Yoga has been finding a Peloton instructor that I love. I’m terrible at making time for a yoga class before bed, though.

Spinning has been going great. I switched things up and started focusing on taking more, shorter classes, doing a class most mornings, and gradually increasing the length of them. I’ve shifted my mindset and rather than trying to make the time for the workout I think I “should” do (and then failing if I oversleep / have an early meeting), I fit the workout to the time I have. 20 minute spin class before running to the shower in time for my first meeting? Great. Get it done. If I’m tired or busy there is a class short or easy enough to do something. The result, I’m really seeing the benefit of a spin bike at home rather than as the best available substitute for the gym. Now I’m trying to add in kettlebell swings and situps, especially after the shorter classes.

Oddly enough the thing that really shifted the spinning was going through a super stressful few weeks at work (review season). I chose morning spinning as my coping strategy and A++ coping strategy, would choose again.

Writing continues to go poorly. I made the habit “workable” by setting the bar super low for myself – jotting down an idea, or editing something I already wrote was enough. Unfortunately, these small things – whilst useful – are not enough to generate a real output. I’ve checked the box more days than not, but I’ve yet to feel a real sense of ongoing momentum.

One of my biggest struggles remains what to write about. My bigger ideas are intimidating – I spent a week thinking deeply and reworking something that I ultimately decided I didn’t have anything meaningful/useful to say on. I keep trying to lower the bar for myself and post something but I miss having actual ideas and momentum and inspiration. Whether it’s a few lines on my personal blog or an entire piece written to meet an external commitment everything feels like a last minute slog I don’t believe in.

But still, I keep trying.

If exercise is a foundation habit, writing is a coping habit, or a thriving habit, and one I struggle to hold onto in this endless space between the two. I always used to write as a way to process, but life has been so boring, there’s not so much of that. Then, there is writing as a form of art, and self expression. Not so much of that either lately; I can barely find things to tweet about.

I think there’s nothing for it other than to keep trying. So with September and October looking to be extremely hectic, August continues with: exercise, and writing. If I can muster the energy for a third habit (maybe more weekly?) it will be life admin.

I’m reminding myself that I chose the word habit for a reason – it was an articulation of the struggle of rebuilding again and again the core functioning that I need in a world that keeps shifting and when so many things feel harder than they used to be. I chose the word habit because I believe habits deserve intention and prioritization. We are what we do consistently.