We have all tried something new at one time or another. Maybe you began a new hobby, or exercise routine, or diet. Maybe you started getting up earlier to eat breakfast at home instead of trying to balance your coffee and bagel while listening to the latest true crime podcast on your drive to work. Whatever it is, big or small, starting something new is hard. And sometimes the hardest part is deciding if a habit is worth keeping.
Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” I think that really sums it up. We curl up with our habits like a fuzzy blanket on a cold night. They are comfortable, familiar and ours. They have helped shape our lives, and in turn, our relationships with family, friends and more importantly, ourselves.
I have vivid memories of being a little kid and eating dinner every night at home with my family. My brother and I were always told that no matter what was going on with friends or activities, we were to be home for dinner. Those are memories that stuck and that was a habit my parents started that still stays with me today. After those delicious dinners that my mom would cook, my dad would stand up from the table and head straight to the small, blue, plastic candy jar with the screw on lid that sat on the kitchen counter. It was always full of plain M&Ms, his favorite indulgence. He would grab a small handful, careful to pick out the colors he liked. Yes, they all taste different according to him. Then he would sit down on the couch and crunch away at them one at a time. I used to ask him why he did that. And he would always say, “I like a little something sweet after a meal.” I’m pretty sure he still reaches for those M&Ms today.
Now, many people who know my family will tell you that I am my father’s daughter. I look like him and we both take great pleasure in an awesome Excel spreadsheet. And now, as an adult, after eating dinner, I look for that blue candy jar. Although mine is white, and sits in my living room, and is full of vegan chocolate, I grab a piece and always think of my Dad. That is a habit I'll always keep. Even if it means I'll never wear those skinny jeans, tucked away in the back on my closet, ever again.
So, how do you decide which habits to keep and which ones to replace? Think about what is serving you and what isn’t. What is enriching your world and what is draining it. What can you start doing today that would make a positive impact on your everyday life? Start with one thing. Just one thing you can do differently and see where it leads you.
Take a different route to work and notice things along the way that you wouldn’t
normally see. Set your alarm 10 minutes earlier in the morning and add a short meditation practice to your day. Make a commitment to yourself to spend one hour each week doing something for other people. Whatever it is, do it with your whole heart. Go all in.
Old habits die hard, and new ones take time. If we are what we repeatedly do, who do you want to be?