Lydia and I had a bit of a clash yesterday, at least from a habit/regimentation perspective.
She wanted me to take care of something, but it was, unfortunately, right when I do my writing. Since it’s a time based habit now that I’m pushing it, any interruption becomes problematic. I don’t do as well as I could, and if it messes up it also has a tendency to unbalance any other habits that are linked to it in the bookend.
Delays in the if-then protocol of the link then also prevent the next habit from forming efficiently. For example, if I have to take care of something after my writing habit, then my meditation habit suffers if I’ve implemented it as taking place “right after my writing is done.”
This started to get me angry and frustrated, but I got over it and realized that this problem has been bubbling up for a long time. Often times Lydia wants to eat before I do because she gets up earlier. Being out of sync pushes me subtly to hurry up my habits even when she’s not pressuring me.
She’s pretty good about not pressuring me, and we have tried to eat separately, but I feel the push nonetheless. A subtle push like this prevents me from doing quality work when I’m in my habit, which won’t at all help when I’m transitioning more and more to the quality of the work rather than it’s regularity.
So how can I tackle the problem? Here are a few ideas:
1) Wake up earlier. I describe the benefits of this in my post “Early to Rise - The Habit of Getting Up Early” but an added benefit is that helps sync you with your significant other or roommate. It affords you greater control because you can shove more uninterrupted, un-rushed time to work. I’m reminded of one of my favorite children’s authors, Lloyd Alexander, who developed a habit of getting up at 3 am to write.
2) Have multiple chains. Rather than having an unending series of constantly expanding chains starting from wakeup, make space in those chains. For example, right now my chain is like this:
wake up ->rowing->drink a glass of water->writing->shower->meditate->record->eat
There are options here. I could do random stuff after rowing because writing is tied to drinking that glass of water. I could do the same thing before my shower because meditation is tied to the shower. There is flexibility here.
I could also start making a chain right before going to bed.
3) Complete autonomy. Address the issue and come to a mature understanding that I’m out of the picture until after I record. It’s very easy to NOT do this because it’s not like I don’t have absolute flexibility. But that way of thinking leads to an erosion of habits.
4) Focus even more on the implementation if-then link. The link - the joining of trigger and action - is the most important aspect of habit creation. So if I have to take care of something halfway into my meditation, that’s ok. As long as I continue and record right after finishing in order to protect that “joint”.
It is, however, wrecking havoc on my eating habit because usually that’s the thing that becomes unchained, preventing me from anchoring it at any one trigger.
There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to this. I’ve been informally coaching a few other people and it’s amazing how the subtle pressures of those you live with can impact this habit formation system