Habits can be a good thing when they support your overall goals. But do you ever review your habits and see if they still perform this function?
It occurred to me recently that I have become habitual in several areas of my life that I really hadn’t thought about before. And these habits were not only not supporting my goals, but were actually sapping my energy and time for the things I really wanted to get done.
Value-Added? Or Habit? Or Obsession?
When I think of habits, it’s usually involved with my daily routine: brush my teeth; clean the cat boxes; call my mother on Sundays; put the dishes in the dishwasher.
But any action can be habitual. As we put new flooring in our house, I looked at a pile of magazines and realized that there was another area of habit that was taking up too much of my time; namely media.
It came as a shock. I have been on a media fast that covers most media for many years now. Yet even though I don’t watch, listen or read the news, other media had crept in and was dragging me down.
As I sorted through these items, I also realized that while some of them added value to my life, others were just habit. And in a couple of cases, my pursuit of them was bordering on obsession.
We’re currently in peak hurricane season, and this year has been particularly bad. Living in a coastal town, very near a tidal river, gives me reason to pay attention to the weather. Even as I write this there is a hurricane passing us offshore (Jose) and another one heading up the coast.
But looking at the weather once a day is very different from researching with the National Hurricane Center posts its updates and checking within minutes of those updates.
I don’t subscribe to many magazines, but the few I do have piled up. Twice in recent memory, I have gone through to pile to find I have a whole year’s worth of magazines unread. I recently did a cull, and discovered that while I still liked all of the magazines, for the most part they have no bearing on my daily life. They don’t even present things I can take action on, but rather represent pipe dreams of a future I’m not sure I really want.
I have been a member of an online academy for years now. Although the returns on the investment have diminished sharply over the years, I have still kept on paying my fee (because if I dropped out I would lose my $99 a year fee and be required to subscribe at $1500 a year), and dragging the email into the trash. The switch to Facebook as a communication method has left me feeling unconnected; the material being produced doesn’t apply to my life.
Another online group, for which I served a partial term as (for lack of a better term) manager, turned toxic. Now, after resigning, I find that I can’t work up the enthusiam to get involved even at the member level. Yet the email keeps piling in, sometimes up to 100 messages a day.
Ah, Facebook and Twitter. I have a love/hate relationship with Twitter, and an almost purely hate relationship with Facebook. Yet I keep getting drawn back to both on the personal side (it doesn’t seem to be as bad for my blog accounts). The vitriol was so bad I started unfollowing people…and soon found the only thing in my Facebook feed were kitten pictures and those recipe videos (you know the ones that speed up the process and make it look so simple.) But I was getting into a cycle of posting, then checking multiple times to see what the reaction was.
Quitting Media…and Why (It Will Surprise You)
So after taking a look at all of the media in my life, in spite of the media fast, I realized it wasn’t serving me.
But the reason isn’t just that it is taking up time that could be devoted to things that matter.
The reason is that it is taking up my focus.
If I am going to be the best person I can be, I need to focus on myself. Not on the weather, pipe dreams I don’t actually want, emails that just get deleted, the lates social media quiz. I have to focus on what I can do today to make my world a better place.
I don’t believe that I’m one of those destined to make great changes in the world. But I do believe that I can make my corner of it better. And to do that, I have to focus on me, my immediate surroundings and the people I interact with in person.
So excuse me, I have some magazine renewal letters to tear up, social media apps to delete, and groups to unsubscribe from.
Not all habits are obvious, and not all habits are serving you. Pick an area that you don’t really think about, and see if it is habitual, and whether or not it is adding value to your life.