Every month during my Year of Change experiments I have learned valuable lessons, both about the habits I’m experimenting with and about the habit change process in general. This month was no different, although I learned something contrary to what I have written about before.
I’ve tried something over the past few months: to do these habits with no ideals, expectations, set goals or any real plans. The only plan I had this month, for example, was to meditate every day. No set time of day, no amount of time, no plan. Just sit and breathe every day.
And that seems great. It seems minimalist, right? Seems easy. It felt good to say that I didn’t have a set plan. It felt like an experiment that would work.
My rationale was that if I didn’t have so many plans and goals and ideals, than the habit would be easier to do. With fewer obstacles in the way, each habit should have been easier to make or break.
But I was wrong. At least, this method didn’t work for me. It might work for others, but for me it became an excuse to slack off, it made it easier to forget about the habit and it didn’t provide the structure I need to form new habits.
I think (and I’m going to test this theory) that for habits like meditation and yoga and other similar habits, it will be more effective to have a more structured plan of action. I still don’t want to have any ideals or expectations because I think they tend to discourage new changes. But I want to implement some sort of plan into my new habits.
For example, with meditation, I might create a plan of action something like this:
- Week 1: Meditate after waking up for 3 minutes.
- Week 2: Meditate after waking up for 5 minutes.
- Week 3: Meditate after waking up for 10 minutes.
- And so on…
My problem with meditation and a few other habits this year has been a lack of planning. I didn’t prepare to start the habit. I didn’t prepare for obstacles or bumps in the road. I didn’t plan for days when I wasn’t motivated or days when my schedule was hectic. I didn’t have any backup plans. In short, because my habit didn’t have any structure, it quickly crumbled under the weight of procrastination, excuses and forgetfulness.
I plan to write more on this in length, but this happens to us all the time! We say we want to do something and we might even do it a few times. But the new habit quickly falters and gets forgotten in the corner of the basement with our running shoes, healthy foods, and yoga mat. And it’s often because we lacked the plans to make the habit stick. We have the desire to change but we skip over the planning stage.
That’s not to say that planning will always guarantee a new habit’s success, but I’ve learned from personal experience just how important this step is in the life of a new habit or any other life change.
So I’m going to give Meditation and Yoga another go, this time with a better plan of action. And I’ll be sure to post my plans and updates here as soon as I make them.
If you need some motivation to start meditating, be sure to check out these great meditation resources.
Also published on Medium.