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The Habit of Choice
I have found myself wondering lately the point at which choice turns into habit.
I seem to remember many months ago writing a blog post about the fact that I stopped putting stickers in my Planner Pad. I was using the small round stickers to mark visits to the gym each week.
Eventually, though, the choice to do daily exercise became such habit that placing a daily sticker in my calendar no longer served a purpose. It went from being a ceremonious ritual that motivated me to becoming a rote experience that I often did as an afterthought.
The same holds true about waking up early. At first, setting my alarm for four o'clock a.m. was a choice I made. There was an aggressive deadline looming overhead and I wanted the extra hours to do uninterrupted work. But then I got used to the quiet time and actually found myself craving time alone in the house.
Eventually the choice to wake up early became a habit and now it is no longer something I think about or plan for. It is my default behavior.
Daily trips to Starbucks were the same. It started out as a choice I made in graduate school when I was looking for a place to study in the early hours of the morning. Three years later I graduated, but the habit of drinking a white chocolate mocha every morning had become so ingrained in me that I no longer considered spending four-plus-dollars a day a choice. Somewhere along the line I let choice turn into a mindless habit.
Thirteen years later I finally chose to stop going to Starbucks every morning. And now I have a new habit. We will call it my Keurig Habit.
Last example: In 2008 I chose to write a blog post six days a week for one year. It was an experiment to see if I could share a creative idea a day never repeating the same idea twice. Somewhere along the line, carving out that time to write became a habit and for the next six years that is what I did six days a week.
Then I chose to stop writing daily blogs so I could spend time growing our House of Shine message in other ways. And, eventually the habit of writing daily blogs went away. Completely.
But I miss that habit and now I sit here wondering if the choice to write today's blog post could eventually turn back into a habit? Certainly not a daily habit, but maybe a weekly habit.
The answer, of course, is yes. Habits begin with choices and choices are something each of use gets to make for ourselves. There aren't a lot of hiding places in that reality, so the decision to act or not act leaves us pretty exposed. Either, yes, writing is important enough that I make time and follow through or, no, it isn't as important as I like to think and I continue choosing other activities over writing.
How about you? Is there an example of a choice you would like to turn into a habit? Or, on the flip side, is there a default habit for which you would like to reclaim choice?