I was reading* in the bath last night (one of my favourite things to do, ever) and came across a line that really struck me:
"Decisions are sheep, habits the shepherd".
Certainly when it comes to get up in the morning it seems like any kind of decision-making (sheepish or not) doesn't get a look-in. My lifelong habit of being dragged kicking and screaming from sleep into another day has continued it's reign long past my teenage years...
Certainly our habits seem to be a framework in which we live our lives, for better or worse. Interestingly, just before the New Year I read a book by Gretchen Rubin called "Better than Before" by Gretchen Rubin, she of "The Happiness Project", all about habits and how your personality can affect your habit-forming tendencies. I actually read the book off the back of a Jess Lively podcast I'd listened to featuring her (check it out here - link! - in fact I'd actually recommend it over the book, especially if you're short on time). Rubin believes there are four tendencies - the upholder, the obliger, the rebel and the questioner - and that each person tends towards one of these. She even has a quiz you can take to find out which one!
Anyway, I fall into the OBLIGER category, which means that I have difficulties keeping up with good habits or quitting bad ones unless I have an external form of accountability - essentially I find it easier to keep promises made to others than those commitments I make just to myself. So as the year progresses I have been keeping this in mind when I decide to try to form a new habit - essentially I attempt to build-in some kind of external accountability regime.
More recently I read a book called "The Miracle Morning". Again, one I came across in a podcast (here), and one which I wouldn't necessarily recommend reading in its entirety. But it has some interesting ideas I'm eager to put into practice. The essence is that your level of personal development is intrinsically linked to your professional development, and that it is worth taking time each morning (before the day wears you out) to actively focus on developing yourself as a person - through meditation, exercise and reading to name a few of the activities he suggests.
With both of these books something clicked with me - I have wonderful intentions, but too often end up vegging out in front of the TV at the end of a day in work. And even when I'm not being lazy, I often just plain forget my good plans when the day's tasks jump to the front of my mind. Like I forget to go shopping for a healthy dinner until it's 8pm and I'm looking in the fridge because my stomach is beginning to eat itself. Or I forget to meditate until it's 11pm and I'm in bed. Or I forget to switch my alarm to an hour earlier than normal because the fact that I planned to workout the next morning slipped my mind... Ok, so my memory is actually completely ridiculous. You get the picture.
So now I am publicly committing to next week beginning my "Miracle Mornings" - setting the alarm an hour earlier to spend a hour on myself each morning, and setting in place habits that will hopefully become as routine as brushing my teeth and mean I no longer have to rely on my memory (hopeless), my willpower (dodgy), or my decision-making faculties (unpredictable!) in my attempts to put my health and wellbeing front and centre of my life. So getting into the habit of being an early-riser so that I can put into place more good habits! A virtuous circle if you will.
And despite being the world's most resolutely non-morning person, I'm strangely looking forward to it!
* A book called "The Architect's Apprentice" by Elif Shafak, set in 16th Century Istanbul. I'm loving it.
** How about you? Do you have any habits you want to cultivate? Anyone have any tips and tricks on how to become a morning person?! **