I’m somewhat of an expert at starting over. I’ve done it often and here I am doing it again. I’ve started and failed. I’ve started and stopped. I’ve started and forgotten to continue. I’ve started and lost my way. I’ve started and been discouraged. Many times I start and then experience a certain level of fear so I slow down, excuse myself and stop.
For a long time I accused myself of being lazy and undisciplined. Those traits are sort of a bummer and if you tell yourself that you are often enough you might actually believe it.
I don’t think our failed attempts at cultivating new habits can be blamed on laziness alone. Maybe not at all. At the very least, let’s wait a while before assigning laziness to our struggle with forging good habits. I’m learning that there is much more to it than that and I am encouraged.
Throughout my attempts at cultivating better or new habits I typically tend to rely on my motivation and my ability to consistently self-motivate. This is difficult because I am a human and motivation is not always on hand. I can be tired and overwhelmed. I can experience difficulties and discouragement. I can be ill or not at my best. I can be distracted or have competing priorities and responsibilities. I know some people (you know, the seemingly superhuman ones) who probably eat motivation for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They snack on it as well. I can learn much by observing their habits but also have much to lose by comparing myself to them.
Personally, I enjoy writing. I’ve been blogging for nearly 20 years but I’ve always struggled to build any sort of consistency. It’s not from a lack of trying. My writing has not been limited to blogging. When I was a pastor I would regularly write sermons and by necessity it was a habit. I had to deliver a sermon every week. That was a while ago now and I haven’t written a sermon in over 6 years.
Regardless, I’ve always wanted to blog consistently. I’ve started over multiple times, have gone back and forth between French and English, tried varied approaches, different platforms, etc. Sometimes, when starting over I deleted everything that came before and other times I kept some posts and removed others. When looking back on those 20 years it’s hard not to be disappointed with myself. I mean 20 years is plenty of time to establish something fruitful, but, when I look at the result, I don’t have much to show for it.
I’ve been reading Atomic Habits by James Clear and have been encouraged. The standout of the book for me so far is the emphasis on the external environment and how, rather than solely relying on my motivation to create habits, there are many simple things we can learn to do and tweak in our daily routines that help us implement the habits we want. Changes that don’t rely uniquely on my ability to constantly motivate myself but rather draw on habits that are already built into my daily rhythms and that which is already around me.
For some this may seem obvious. For me, it is a refreshing.
So yes, this is another post about how I intend to write consistently. For my own sake and, I hope, for the benefit of those who read what I write. I’m not removing any posts that are there because they tell a story. A story that continues today.
This is also a post about standing and starting again. What is one habit you have consistently failed at cultivating? What is your current disposition toward giving it another try? What can you do differently that could put you one step closer to achieving it?
Recommended reading : Atomic Habits by James Clear