habits: my 2023 word of the year

I really hate to admit this, but I have some really terrible habits.

It’s a Sunday evening, 29th January to be exact, and I’m writing this as my first post of 2023. I might be late to the party on deciding on a ‘word of the year’, but truthfully, the idea has never really resonated with me. However, I’ve just finished chapter one of James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, and it crossed my mind as a good focus word. Consider me *inspired* after just one chapter. I’m going to make rebuilding my habits and routines a focus of the year, and I’m ready to start making some long-term, sustainable changes to my life.

my current good vs bad habits

First, I’m going to acknowledge a few habits I consider good and bad right now. These are things that I haven’t wanted to admit, but I know it’s valuable in the first step to creating better systems and improving my daily life. Let’s start with the ‘bad’ ones.

  1. Too much screen-time giving me RSI in my wrist
  2. Not having a bedtime routine or sleeping pattern
  3. Snacking when I’m not hungry
  4. Leaving clean washing in baskets around the bed
  5. Not drinking enough water
  6. Not doing my skincare routine EVERY morning and night
  7. Negative self-talk
  8. Exercising really sporadically with a lack of intention, purpose or routine
  9. Opening emails or texts and not replying to them in a timely manor
  10. Not getting enough steps or movement in daily, including taking regular breaks from my desk

For a healthy dose of balance, I want to also acknowledge a few good things I think I’m doing well. Some I’ve had for many years, and others are fairly new.

  1. Reading before bed
  2. Writing in a gratitude journal every morning and night
  3. Getting outside every day to walk my dog (+ generally caring for her with ease)
  4. Scheduling and attending routine health appointments for doctors, dentists, opticians etc.
  5. Talking to loved ones, voicing my feelings/concerns and asking for help when I need it
  6. Spending quality time with my fiancé, friends and family
  7. Scheduling time off and having a healthy work/life balance in terms of time and boundaries
  8. Being generally organised with my time, schedule, diary and plans
  9. Money management and finding ways to improving my financial situation
  10. Motivation to learn new things

lack of routines

I know I’m nailing some things, but I clearly have room for improvement (don’t we all?). When writing those lists, I noticed an obvious lack of routines. Ever since the pandemic, I’ve struggled to stick to a good routine in terms of sleep, eating, exercising and skincare. Of course, I’m always trying my best in all areas, but I’ve noticed myself slacking and I know I’m not reaching my full potential right now.

I sleep whenever I get tired, which can often be 11 or 12 pm at night. I used to get into bed at 9 pm, ‘wind down’ and then turn my light off by 10 pm latest. I’m not sure when I stopped doing that, but having a lack of bedtime routine is affecting my sleep, and that’s impacting the rest of my life and probably the cause of some of those habits which aren’t serving me so well too.

how I’m going to change things

It sounds simple on paper, but I clearly need to re-establish those healthy habits or reintroduce new ones that will improve my day-to-day. With the best intentions, here’s what I want to achieve.

Firstly, I’m going to read ALL of Atomic Habits. If I feel THIS inspired from the first 28 pages, then I’m clearly going to learn some handy tips and I want to commit to new habits. I know lifelong learning can be transformative, so I’m starting with the foundations of education and a better understanding.

Next, I’m going to start making those small (often overlooked) 1% changes each day. A few ideas that come to mind include filling up a water bottle and drinking it before bed and when I wake up. Blocking ’email time’ in my diary to focus solely on those replies I’ve fallen behind on. Doing my skincare immediately before or after brushing my teeth (habit stacking!). Recognising when and what I’m snacking and asking myself “am I really hungry right now?’

final thoughts

I could very easily allocate an idea to each of the areas that need to change, but I don’t want to overwhelm myself. I’m not in any sort of race and I want to enjoy the journey. I’m simply looking at what small things I can change that I know will add up.

With a year until my wedding, I want to look back and be proud of the habits I formed, the changes I made and the feeling they gave me. I know I have the potential to make things better, and I’m not going to look back and feel guilty for the past year. 2022 was tough, and I did what I did to carry me through, but this new year gives me the opportunity to move forward.

I know I’ve been in a place of ‘all talk no action’ before, so I’m going to hold myself accountable and that starts by sharing this post.

I’ll report back on my progress whilst remembering that Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all.

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