Tag: habits

Fourth Anniversary, a Little Late

This has been a strange year. On my website, I tried out youtube videos and illustrating some family recipes and blog posts. I continued with comics and short stories, too. I also took my first vacation from my website, and it went longer than I expected.

I think it’s easy to fill up time. There are so many good things to do and interesting things to learn. It can be difficult to make time for practicing something that I’m not so good at and sharing the results. But it’s time for me to return to regularly posting.

When my computer died and took with it the two novels I had been working on, I lost a lot of motivation. I did a lot of journaling, but not as much writing. I started writing again recently, but I think I’m a bit out of practice. So, at some point, hopefully soon, I will be posting little stories here again.

For now, as I work at rebuilding my posting habits, I will post comic strips twice a week and post whatever I want on Saturdays.

So there we are, my look back at the past year and forward to the next. For those who still check back in, thank you so much for your support, your encouragement, and your patience. I hope this next year will be one of improvement, learning, growth, accomplishment, creativity, and delight for us all. Please let me know about your creative goals so that I can cheer you on as well!

Warmest wishes,

Summer Bird

Routines II

Getting a routine to stick takes at least two weeks.

Is it worth the bother?

I think so. Knowing what’s coming next brings a feeling of safety in uncertain times.

Routines don’t have to be strict schedules. Those are really hard to stick to. It’s easier when they’re adaptable. In my experience, routines need:

to have purpose. Decide what you really need or want to do each day/week/month.

to have order. Fit your planned activities around the set points of your schedule (meals, regular appointments, etc.) in an order that makes sense. I like to vary my activity level—active chores before/after a lot of sitting down, for example.

to have breathing room. Don’t cram your schedule too full. Life happens. You don’t have to do everything every day.

to change when they aren’t working. Get input from those around you. Think about what things you aren’t enjoying—or keep skipping. Check in regularly.

Do you have a routine? How do you make it work for you?

Routines

Small actions, when they’re done consistently, can really add up.

A group of these small actions makes up a routine. Routines are amazing. Why?

 ① You are improving whatever actions you choose to do consistently. For example: a sketch each day.

An existing routine makes adding potential new habits much, much easier. You can simply fit it in with something you already do, and you instantly have a plan for accomplishing it and a built-in reminder. (That doesn’t mean it will be easy—just easier.)

𝓠 : But what if you have no routines to start from?

𝒜 : Do you eat lunch every day? Wake up? Watch a favorite TV show? These are mini-routines and can be built on to create longer routines.

🟩🟥🟦🟩 Routines are POWERFUL ways to reach your goals a little at a time. Small things are easiest to add and continue to do.🟥🟦🟩🟥

🌟How have routines helped you reach your goals?

Haircuts

My boys all have summer haircuts. It’s such a sharp contrast when their hair is cut short. Suddenly they look different, older. It keeps surprising me every time I see them for the first few days.

But then, it grows out. Slowly, slowly, it returns to its former length, with periodic trims, and I don’t remember what it looked like short. Until it gets cut short again when the warm weather returns.

I think that sometimes it’s like that trying to establish a habit. Especially one that I feel like is good for me, but I’m not very enthusiastic about (like exercise). I jump into my shiny new habit and for a short time I keep it up. It’s there every day, but hard to get used to, like a surprising haircut.

And then I get less diligent. It’s hard to keep up the enthusiasm under the force of time and my normal routine. And then something outside my normal routine demands extra time, and I decide I can skip the habit just the once. It happens again and again. It’s no longer part of my normal routine.

I get used to the idea of a routine without the new habit. It’s like in the fall, when the haircuts just aren’t as short and we are used to the new length because it happened so slowly. Somehow, everything is back to normal and I can’t even remember how I managed to add that new habit in the first place and make everything work.

And yet, I wanted that habit for a reason. I remember the reason. I feel guilty for not keeping up the habit. The next time I’m setting goals, there it is, back on the list. Maybe this time it will take. Maybe it won’t.

I’ve found that, like haircuts, goals need maintenance. While the new year is a good time to make long-range plans with a large number of goals, there are multiple points in the year where I can add a few new habits and goals back into the mix. It’s like a trim, instead of the full summer haircut.

My birthday, my anniversary, the start of school, my blog anniversary, spring break, the beginning of summer, thanksgiving… there are lots of times for checking in on and fine-tuning the plan I made at new years.

Someday I hope that the habits that I find so hard to keep will settle in place and become part of my daily routine. Until then, I’ll just keep adding them back in. Hair grows. Life crowds out new habits. I guess that’s just how things go.

Do you have a hard time keeping new habits? Do you set goals and start new habits at certain points of the year or as needed? Or both?

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Facing Worry

I’m a worrier, and it stresses me out. This is not new. Actually, I do better now than I used to.

And yet, I still worry far too much. In some ways, I feel like I took the scout motto to “Be Prepared” much too personally. I’m constantly peering into the shadows trying to anticipate which monster will come out next. Maybe I read too many mystery novels when I was young and impressionable.

It takes a lot of energy to try prevent all the bad things that could possibly happen at once. “Don’t talk to strangers. Or people you know. Or walk too close to cars. Or groups of kids. And look out for dogs. And powerlines…” The warnings I want to give my middle schooler before he walks a block to school in the morning are endless. Usually I manage to limit it to one or two. Sometimes I just drive him to school.

I unplug small appliances before I leave the house and worry about the larger appliances that are too big to unplug. Every time the phone rings, I worry it’s the school calling. Bee sting? Broken arm? The sky falling? They haven’t happened yet, but this could be that call.

Early in our marriage, my husband stopped our newspaper subscription. I was reading the paper cover to cover, and I can still, twenty years later, remember the details of some of the scary stories I read. “It’s stressing you out,” my husband said.

“I need to know what to watch out for,” I told him.

And yet, without the newspaper to warn me, we survived living in that city, and the other cities we lived in. Some bad things happened, but some great things did too. I didn’t miss the newspaper… okay, I did. But I didn’t miss my daily dose of fear.

The internet has tried to provide that with its newsfeeds and Facebook, but I try to be wise and only read a few stories here and there. It’s like a security blanket. If I can just predict the bad things, whatever they are, I can defend against them, right?

But I think that the worry can be a bad thing all on its own. There is a point where it ceases to be helpful, and starts taking too much energy, time and space. I’m tired of worrying.

I will probably never leave my toaster plugged in when I leave the house. I don’t think I will ever ride a rollercoaster without imagining that this is the time it will go off the tracks. That said, I am trying harder to worry less. But how do I worry less after all this time?

Science says that the best way to get rid of a bad habit is to replace it with a good habit. This article explains it well: https://www.inc.com/melody-wilding/psychology-says-this-is-how-you-change-a-bad-habit-for-good.html

So what is a good replacement for worry?

In an Ensign article in April 1986, Gordon B. Hinckley said: “I am asking that we stop seeking out the storms and enjoy more fully the sunlight.“

And later in the same article, “I have little doubt that many of us are troubled with fears concerning ourselves. We are in a period of stress across the world. There are occasionally hard days for each of us. Do not despair. Do not give up. Look for the sunlight through the clouds. Opportunities will eventually open to you. Do not let the prophets of gloom endanger your possibilities.”

Bad things do happen, but good things do too. Why not spend my energy preparing for the next big opportunity? Why not notice and recognize the good things that happen? I think it would be a better use of my time.

I’ve started keeping a gratitude journal. I try to get out and help other people. It really gives me a lot of perspective. Somehow, it’s easier to do hard things when I’m doing them for someone else. I am developing my talents and trying to share them.

I may always be a worrier. But, I hope that I can continue to improve. I want to stop seeking out storms and instead enjoy the sunlight. While wearing sunscreen. And a hat.

Do you worry a lot too? What are some things you do when you can tell that you’re starting to worry?

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