Hey! This is issue #16 of my old newsletter, INSFB, published December 2019. Enjoy!
This week I fully realized how important a daily rhythm is.
Since January, after finishing Atomic Habits I slowly started working on my habits. Not that they were terribly bad, but I had very little control over them. Felt the need to eat a cookie? I was immediately going downstairs to the kitchen. The autopilot turned on. Zero self-control. Felt anxious? I was on the doorstep of a fast-food restaurant in minutes (yes, that was what I did when I felt anxious).
The book presented me with a very solid system of breaking bad habits and building good ones. Something that seemed impossible before was suddenly manageable. Of course, I knew that it wouldn't be easy, but at least there was a way I could approach it. Slowly, I started creating new habits - some designed with overwriting the old, bad ones in mind, some just completely new. It wasn't an easy journey. Mostly because the effects were very much delayed in time. Impatience grew. While after ~3 months the system was somewhat working - there were a few (3-5) habits that "got encoded" into my brain. While I still had to be reminded about the rest, there was some progress.
But then everything crashed in May. Due to an overwhelming amount of work, which generated a lot of stress & anxiety, I just couldn't keep up. And just like that, my whole system fell apart. One by one.
In all honesty, it took me almost two months to rebuild the thing. But this time, I had a more relaxed approach to building new habits. Instead of trying to crank 14 habits every day, I chose just 3 that I wanted to focus on during a single month. Of course, usually, I only managed to "encode" just one habit per month. In June/July it was writing a blog post every single day, in late July/August it was meditation, and then at the end of August I threw journaling into the mix. Thanks to this approach, the habits actually stuck with me.
The best aspect of building a daily rhythm is the simple rule that one habit leads to another. The only thing that you need to consciously do is the first habit in the chain. And if that habit is as simple as, for example, waking up, then you're unstoppable.
Here's my morning habit chain - a routine, as some may call it:
Wake up -> Get out of bed to turn off the alarm, which is on the other side of the room -> Turn off alarm -> Make my bed -> Sit down on armchair -> Read the bible -> Pray -> Go to the bathroom -> Toilet stuff -> Go downstairs -> Enter kitchen -> Take meds (they're a whole another chain) -> Go to bathroom again -> Shower -> Kitchen again -> Prepare 2nd breakfast & lunch for the day (it's usually already prepared) -> Prepare breakfast -> Go upstairs to my desk, where my Bullet Journal is open -> Eat breakfast -> Review the plan for the day -> Think about my daily "motto" -> Pack BuJo -> Make sure that the bag is packed -> Go to bathroom -> Brush teeth -> Style hair -> Open wardrobe -> Dress up -> Double check pockets for phone, wallet & keys -> Leave my room -> Leave the house
While all of this may sound like a lot, I never think about it. After more than 30 repetitions, the process is 100% automatic. I never think about it. This is what makes my days actually work. All of this is like a runway that helps me start my day.
During the past few days I didn't do it. I felt a bit bad, headaches and stuff. I swear, every single day that I didn't begin with this ritual was much, much worse. I cannot live without the rhythm, it has become a part of me.
You should try building your own daily groove too.