The fire that forges the habit is made up of the temptations and urgencies to break it. 

“Be regular and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work.”​  

Gustave Flaubert

The hardest parts of sticking with the habit are the actual habit. 

Often, a new habit for me is the upgrading of an existing one. This was recently the case when I decided to shore up the invisible electric fence of my online habits. My reasoning being that every time I have done this, it has benefited my productivity, creativity, and mental health. 

So I figured, why not shore up the fence even more? I now stay offline (social media and email – weekends) for the first hour of every weekday and all weekend. These times are now spent on reading educational articles related to my goals, and working on projects, clients’ and my own.

The takeaway I’m aiming for here is not about me and my habits, but rather encouragement for you to deploy the same level of self-observation and playing with borders and boundaries in your own habit setting.

I’ve already noticed a surprising side effect on weekdays. Rather than checking the clock for the first hour, I get so caught up in self-education and projects, that it’s well beyond an hour before I get online, or what I tend to think of as, reactive brainwave scrambling. 

My brain clearly craves learning and doing. Before establishing this sacred time every day, when I started my day with email and social media, I had to then fight for the attention span to consume any sort of long form content. And the fight was often unsuccessful. Now, by simply flipping the order, and starting with the proactive attention tasks, it feels almost effortless. Joyful! The neuroscience of technology and how to best work with it rather than against it, continues to fascinate me.

Lessons from my online-free weekends are about sitting with discomfort. Old habits die hard. It’s not long before the sneaky voice of rationalization tries to trick me into scurrying back into the safe borders of my comfort zone. 

“C’mon, just hop online for a few minutes to ‘check’ real quick, you’ll feel better!”
“You HAVE to check for ABC or XYZ could happen!”

A reactive mind lie of course, that sneaky voice rationalizing perceived urgent needs. The truth is, nothing can happen online that can’t wait until Monday. For me, online is not real life, it’s a tool that reflects, describes, and supplements real life. But that doesn’t stop my reactive mind from urgently making its case that I should spend more time in that virtual reality. Being aware of the game and breathing through the discomfort has thus far kept the habit intact. 

Habits exist for the hard times, not the easy times when they’re easy to keep. This is the test. It requires remaining self-observation mode, vigilant for the next “justification” floated by your reactive mind to blow off the habit (especially when it’s a newly formed one). Therefore, once you create a new habit for good, solid reasons, if you are able to justify breaking it at the first sign of the perceived urgency of “life” – it’s not a habit, it’s a convenience. It’s easy to keep habits when there are no temptations or urgencies tugging at you. But the fire that forges the habit is EXACTLY those temptations and urgencies. 

P.S. Feeling frustrated trying to set a regular book writing habit? Helping first time authors establish mindset and productivity habits is central to my author coaching program – accountability, a master class in writing, developmental editing, and high performance mindset coaching, all in one! 

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