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life Reflections

The Habit of Adequacy

I think about habits a lot. That my word for 2021 is habit is a product of this, and a useful lens to cycle back on it. I think about habits, how to intentionally build and maintain them, and then I remind myself that I set it as a priority for the year for a reason.

Lately, I keep coming back to the concept of adequacy. I think about embracing adequacy as a mechanism for improving my life. Practically, it doesn’t make sense to excel at everything, some things merely need to be adequate, to be done at all. It helps get me out of my head and “just do” things that I don’t care about, but that are a requirement of being an adult in the world. I think about adequacy as a minimum bar for any habit. The purpose of a habit is consistency; showing up. And then, it’s the endless March of 2020, we are exhausted (burnt out), sometimes adequate is all we’ve got.

Swimming is a habit I’m focusing on right now. It’s good for me; great exercise, good for my shoulder, and the pool is a place where – if I’m lucky – I find great mental clarity. Tonight I pushed through all the reasons – real and imagined – to get myself into the pool, promising myself that adequacy was sufficient, that showing up was enough… and I had a great swim.

I was practicing the habit, whilst thinking about habits, and it was an aha moment for me. I was thinking about what it means to honor the word habit, and I realized: I honor the word habit not on the days when it’s easy, when I feel energetic, or inspired, or whatever. I honor the word habit on the days that it is hard, but I show up anyway. The habit serves me on the days when I doubt that I can, but I show up and give myself the opportunity to surprise myself. To have it be great even though my expectations are low.

After posting something every Monday all year, I thought this was going to be the day that I missed. Legitimate reasons, “self care”, but also: out of cope. But this clarity from the pool inspired me, and if all this blog post is, is a note for a future Cate? That is adequate. That is enough.

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