Step 21 of the Journey: Three-week review

Photo by Karo Kujanpaa on Unsplash

Step 21. Three weeks of small steps have passed already. Now is a good time to review how those three weeks have gone, how well the habits have been established, how I’m feeling, what needs adjusting, and what is missing.

The aim was to establish some very small steps that could be repeated daily, would have negligible effect each day but would result in a significant change over time (1 year or more.)

The habits I’ve established (and I truly believe that they will continue for the rest of my life) are:
- Grip strength and shoulder strength every morning.
- Reading every morning.
- Walking every morning (I started with 10 minutes, I’ve now reached 40)
- Writing every day.
- Foot strengthening exercises every day
- Core/ab exercises every day.
- Arm exercise routine Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
- Leg exercise routine Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
- Healthy eating

I’m delighted with the way I’ve taken those habits on board. The first day was amusing because it was almost too easy. Reading has been consistently done every morning. The exercise has increased by 1 rep each day, which is still pretty easy, and will be broken into sets from tomorrow. I’m also at the stage where I shall continue with that basic exercise routine, but I will add a 10 minute circuit one day this week and two days next week (the daily exercise has given me the urge to do more). Similarly, I started jogging for a couple of minutes during my morning walk today, so I will add a 3 to 5 minute run every other day from tomorrow (this was always my strategy to get back into running).

Again, these are tiny steps on the path to success, but they are forming the habits. Before long I will be running most days and performing significant strength workouts.

So, a great start to the year and to my new habits, but what about the challenges, failures, obstacles, and problems?

I could certainly have done some of those things better in the last three weeks. I would like to be more consistent with the routines. My walking and reading are perfect — the same time every morning.

The exercise and writing tend to vary — some days I’ll exercise straight after reading, other days I won’t exercise until late afternoon or evening. Writing will occur when the urge to write happens, or when it’s late and I know I need to finish my daily article. I know that it is unnecessary to wait until I’m in the ‘zone’. That’s an excuse. We often have to do things when we’re not in the mood. If there is a fixed time set to do it, then it should be done at that time. So, from now, I will set down fixed times of the day to do certain things. Not only will that help to ensure that they are done, but it will reinforce good habits and make the journey more enjoyable.

What about new habits? Well, I have a few other things that are not yet in my daily routine, and some of them will have an incredibly positive effect on the existing habits. The important thing is to introduce them, knowing that I can take a small-step approach on a daily basis.

My principal new habit, which will have a significant impact on the others, is my sleep. For decades I have been going to bed too late and waking up tired. This has had a detrimental effect on my work, my exercise, my ability to concentrate, my social life and my mental health. For a long time, I have battled with the question of whether lack of sleep affects mental health or if the mental health of someone affects their sleep. The reality is that it’s both, and it becomes cyclical. So, let’s break that cycle. This is going to be the most challenging of new habits, but it needs to happen.

By getting into a good sleep routine, I can plan better, knowing that my mind will be more alert during the day and so, as mentioned earlier, I can set aside specific time for performing specific tasks. Now, I have failed many times in the past when trying to get a good sleep routine, so why will it be different this time? When trying a new sleep routine in the past, it has been because I knew my sleep routine was damaging my health and I had decided that enough was enough. I was regularly going to bed at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, yet getting up early and feeling sluggish with a low mood. To fix it, I would suddenly start going to bed earlier, but within a few days, before a new sleep pattern had formed, I would revert to my old habits. This time, I’m going to go to bed at the correct time, but not worry whether I sleep quickly or not. I’m going to allow myself the full year to adapt. The small steps are simply going to bed at the correct time and not worrying about sleep. The sleep will come. That starts tonight. Let’s see how it goes over the coming weeks and months. Tomorrow, I’ll talk about another of the new habits I’m about to introduce.

Day 13 of healthy eating done.

Day 21, job done.

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