I have been really trying to evolve and change as a person for the past few years and in many ways I have successfully done so. For instance, I fell into a deep depression about three years ago that crippled me physically, psychologically, and emotionally. This was one of the defining times of my life thus far because I had a choice to make, either forge a new path towards growth or continue to follow the same path spiral downwardly until there was nothing left. I decided that I was going to take the more difficult path and pull myself towards trying to grow as a person and even more then that I decided that I was going to try and help others to do the same, even if I failed personally.
The idea of making positive changes in your life and pushing yourself to grow as a person is all well and good but it is also a very difficult thing to do in terms of application. For years you have been programmed by society, your family, friends, and even by yourself to adopt certain habits, attitudes, and ways of thinking regardless of whether or not they are useful or beneficial. So, if you’re a person that needs to lose weight in order to regain your health, it will often go far beyond just eating less and exercising more. There is an emotional attachment to certain foods, there are social activities that you enjoy with others that lead to unhealthy behavior, there are daily routines that clobber your advancement at every opportunity.
For my own life, I have been recently tracking different behaviors through journaling and also by just keeping tabs in my own mind and trying to effectively measure their impacts on my mental health and towards my own growth. With this cataloging of my life I have been able to pinpoint several behaviors or activities that tend to skew the type of results I am trying to achieve towards the negative. It wasn’t really a surprise to me that most of these things seem fairly minor in their own essence but on a large scale they can have a profound impact.
One thing that I’ve noticed is that my productivity and mood is less directly tied to how much I sleep versus the hours I keep. Meaning that on a night where I get only 5 hours of sleep, while I may not be as sharp, I can still get everything that I want done that day if I wake before 8 AM. However, if I wake up at 10 AM or later not only does my productivity tumble but also my mood and the bad habits start to creep in.
Why would the few extra hours make that much of a difference? It has to do with the remnants of my old schedule of going to class in the mornings and work through the afternoon. I still work the job that was necessary while in school in order to enroll in all of the classes that I needed to take. However, now that the classes no longer exist in my life the job still does and it is not optimal for me. I haven’t kept the consistency of getting up early, which would allow me to exercise while at peak motivation or to read while I have the most energy in the morning or to get done whatever else I need to. It becomes easy to stay up late and watch a movie or interesting documentary because there is no direct imperative to get up and start my day. Getting back into the habit of early rising would allow me to start my day off with a positive build and establish the mindset necessary to truly make change.
Another thing that I noticed about time is my lack of a set schedule for certain things like writing. I’ve always tended towards being the writer who has to be in the flow to write instead of sitting down and getting it done. The problem with that method is obviously the fact that the inspiration to write 5,000 words isn’t always there but the ability to do so is. I had no intentions of writing this post today or even at all but my tracking of my life and habits made me realize that this is what it is going to take for me to get things done. This can be a really bad habit to get into because you are only doing things when you ‘feel’ like doing them instead of doing the daily grind and forcing them into habit, which is the only way you are going to improve. On the days, where my lack of planning met with a late start to my day, it was essentially pointless for me to get out of bed. Not only did I not get anything done but my eating habits were garbage and my mental clarity sucked.
There are other things that I definitely noticed that have been holding me back from reaching that next level of growth and this is something that I expected when I started down this path. I can’t really beat myself up about it because a few years ago I was at rock bottom in every single aspect of my life, so it is only natural that I run into obstacles on my ascent and eventually find myself getting stuck on plateaus. If you are currently trying to achieve a specific goal or make big changes in your life, I encourage you to start cataloguing all of your daily habits for a few weeks and see what are the little habits and patterns in your life that are really holding you back. It’s okay if you cannot change them at first, what is most important is that you recognize that they exist and then you can decide on a plan of attack. For example, my sleeping habits have always been extreme my whole life and so I usually have to force myself to get up early for a few days in a row regardless of how late I stayed up the night before. The change itself isn’t usually fun to make but breaking out of these cycles helps to create a tremendous amount of opportunity for growth.