Kids staying home sick from school. An extra unexpected project at work. A broken car. Ahh, the everyday life things that get in the way of our habits going “right”.
After years of coaching and 30+ years in this body, I can tell ya – we often kick and blame ourselves when the habits we build fall apart. But what if a habit not going “right” isn’t wrong at all? What if it’s expected?
This month, we’re here to talk about the IMMENSE value of habit building – yes, even when they don’t go as planned.
When it comes to food or exercise, we often build habits around our grand meal prep plans, getting up early enough to make ourselves a quality breakfast, or how our workout is going to fit into our day. Here’s why that effort is valuable & why those don’t even have to go right in order to get the job done.
Habits are the predictable activities that we act out, usually at a specific time of day and/or in a specific order, that – when regularly followed – provide us with more brain space and efficiency as we move toward our goals.
That can be our nutrition goal, movement or body composition goal…but also, the goal of getting to those things with less stress, under less strain, and with more ability to cope when life throws a curveball in our direction.
And when our habit execution goes awry? It doesn’t necessarily mean that anything is inherently wrong with them (or us!), that we need to re-design them or, worse, throw them out completely. At Rebel, we believe that going awry is all part of the plan.
Have you ever considered that they might not even be meant to be followed perfectly every single day?
Tools, not chains
Habits are tools.
Tools that are uniquely designed to fit and support YOUR real life (no, copying and pasting mine or anyone else’s into your life will never work well in the long run).
They are tools that, when things go sideways, we’re allowed to adapt to fit the new circumstance.
Tools we can cut down and prioritize only parts of when we can’t seem to make it all work.
That we are allowed to put off until tomorrow when emergencies arise (knowing calmly that they actually make it easier to pick up again once the emergency has calmed and things go back to normal).
What they aren’t are heavy chains that create more obligation, that weigh us down when we can’t carry them.
When life goes to plan, we might use and stick to those tools 100%. But when things go differently, that percentage might plummet for a while. And in both cases, your habits are there to create more ease in your life – not stress.
The reframe: making habits work for us
Think for a second about your daily or weekly habits, the behaviours that you do without much thought that move you just a little closer to what you want or who you want to be. Maybe that’s prioritizing your workout in the morning so you don’t have to do it after work, or maybe it’s ordering your groceries online on Fridays so you can prep your meals over the weekend before you start your work week again.
Do you beat yourself up when you aren’t able to follow them 100%?
And if so, is that a helpful use for them?
What if – instead of strict rules to be followed – we saw them s guideposts, as wide as they need to be to meet the present situation, but still guiding the direction of our planning and decision-making, however loosely? Or guiding us back next time when there is no way to shoot between the posts this time around?
What if that means that we occasionally order groceries on Sunday and prioritise prepping only our protein options on Monday after work – not ideal, sure, but still not letting the whole week get away from us? Or allowing ourselves the week off from our morning workouts to take care of unexpected family obligations knowing that next week will come around and getting back into the habit that serves us will be easier because of what we’ve built? That one week off won’t break the big-picture consistency?
What if we create them, with all the energy and effort they deserve, knowing that a partial hit or even a full-blown miss doesn’t say anything about their, or our, efficacy in the long run?
What if we use them as tools to help us get where we want to go instead of fuel to burn ourselves when the expectedly unexpected occurs?
Life can be messy, and so following our habits can be messy, too – but not having those guideposts would be MESSIER, and that is where their incredible value lies.
Remember: habits are tools, as flexible as we need them to be, and if not used as a weapon against ourselves, bomb ones at that.