Why does it take 21 days to form a new habit?

by misstca

My life is a ‘work in progress’. In continuous improvement terms I should have specific goals with measurable targets so I know how I’m progressing. I can do this in my professional life but seem utterly powerless to leverage the methodology in my own life.

Work Life + Family Life = Tricia

At work I’m an architect at heart – seeing layers of complexity and connectedness in the business. Risks, dependencies, connections that others don’t see but are right under their noses. I have my doubts about my abilities as a manager. On one hand I want to be a coach, influencer and teacher to help others learn and develop their careers- to help teams achieve great things. On the other hand I prefer the life of an individual contributor and don’t want to be responsible for anyone else. Don’t want to give performance reviews, don’t want to set goals, don’t want to take measurements.

At home I’m a mom and wife and am trying my best to not be a nag or yeller or all around bitch. My husband is a good man and is very patient with me. I have my doubts about my abilities as a wife and mother. There are times I feel cold hearted and want to hide in a cave somewhere. At the same time I have delusions of being a super mom and super wife- being a caregiver for everyone around me. Tending to wounds, home-cooked meals and treats . . . house projects, scrapbooking and all that jazz.

The Work : Life equation is fundamentally wrong though because there is nothing else interesting about me outside of home and work, work and home.

So in my ‘work in progress’ life, I think my goal is to find balance and find someway to add something else for myself on the left side of the equation. Maybe it’s my X factor- a variable yet to be defined. In this improvement effort I can try different ‘X’s to attempt to achieve my desired outcome ‘Y’. I think some of my base assumptions must include X being additive and not taking away from Work or Family. I love my work and I love my husband and children. Somewhere I need to find that right level of tension and stress to keep my drive and keep me motivated but not feel like I’m over committed or being run over by life. My emotional and physical bank accounts are overdrawn- and I need to start paying myself back. When I’m overdrawn, then then the entire equation starts to fall apart.

So I will pose various experiments to try out different hypothesis X1, X2, Xn . . . as many as it takes. One other key assumption is that these activities will not have me pining away for some future imaginary life that isn’t achievable. I need to work within my current constraints and assume that I will not change jobs or move to a new house with more closet space.

Work Life + Family Life + Xn = Tricia

X1 = walking instead of working – is it possible that I can trade an early morning ‘working’ habit to ‘walk’ instead? I did it last week- in 6 days I may have walked up to 12 miles. I felt good, I felt proud of the achievement. This week I’m back in the work habit again.

Analysis of potential barriers to success:
1. Horrible menstrual cycle required skipping at least 2 days
2. Stuck in compliance purgatory where I can’t seem to find enough hours in the day to get my work done
Aids to overcome the barriers:
1. Go on the pill starting next Sunday to see if I can regulate my cycles and stop the insanity
2. Dig myself out of the hole so I can get back on the walking path by the end of the week

Starting Friday I’m going to re-initiate my X1 goal – a 21 day habit to walk instead of work

X2 = 21 day meditation habit – Deepak Chopra – a new recording comes out each day – I started it last night – an easy 15 minutes. I’m not a “meditator”, but my last few months of hypnotherapy have been extremely helpful. More on that later.

If I can make X1 and X2 work for 21 days will it help with balance? I think so. It certainly gets me on a path to take care of my mind and my body. Next step for X3 will probably have something to do with food. At the moment I can only handle so much . . .

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