Creating Habits

Originally published here.

Over the last month I have been trying to get back into the groove of things.

And that involves getting involved with one of my most challenging choices: creating habits. But not just creating habits, being aware of habits and how they effect who I am & what I want to be. I'm talking day to day, get out of bed and make sure you clean your teeth.

It probably sounds a bit odd, but for the last 6 months I have been recovering/learning how to manage nerve pain in my right hand. And routine, habits and predictability are things that haven't been constant.

I hope to write about those experiences in future blogs, but just to give you an idea, there were some days were I couldn't pick up a cup of tea with my right hand because the pain was too much. Jump six months and I'm typing with both hands and I manage to cut up some vegetables last week. It may sound like the everyday to you, but these are achievements to me as my 'everyday' for a while was not being able to wash up the dishes or spread butter because of the pain. 

I've always seen routines as boring. But essential. But not for me. But I need it (and the cycle continues). I can set unrealistic goals and get distracted very easily. Five years ago I (finally!) was diagnosed with ADHD (inattentive type) and I was given the awareness to train my brain and my thinking to help me be the best me. Self awareness is such a beautiful, horrifying, incredible blessing/curse. Being aware of your thinking and actions gives you the choice to challenge or accept them. And it's a roller coaster ride!

Finding a groove and to keep learning new dance steps to stay in time to a changing beat but staying realistic is... hard. Some days, you may be dancing like Michael Flatley (whole clip is worth the watch!) or other days you may be struggling to put your toes on the ground with two very left feet. 


Habits, routines and organisation take time, commitment and daily choices. 

For me, about a month ago, I realised I was getting frustrated with myself about not having anything to do. Or not doing what I loved. So then I began to think about what I loved doing and what I wanted to achieve. How could I encourage myself to be the best me? And enjoy being me? I wrote a list and the top three things I missed the most were writing, reading and exploring. I then wrote lists within the list with ideas on how I could do those things.

Writing was the most desired but the most challenging activity. From September 2014 to June 2015, there were days were I couldn't write my name. And yet, I am a writer. The frustration and yearning to write again has been so strong and overwhelming. So I decided I'd write a sentence a day.  I then built this exercise up to a paragraph a day. Then a writing exercise a day. Then to a page of my notebook (A5) a day. Little by little, my hand is learning to write again and building up its muscles. My handwriting isn't as neat but my fine motor skills are improving, day by day. 

A month ago if you had of told me I would be writing 1-2 A5 pages a day, I would have laughed (and maybe cried) at you. Three months ago if you had of told me I'd be writing sentences in a month I would have probably hit you. 

The idea of a habit has now transformed from a dirty word to describing a process of returning to one of my most treasured joys: writing. Of course there have been physio exercises which seem like an essential 'tick the box' habit. But creating a space and time I could return to writing has been one of the most beautiful decisions I've made. The word habit now describes a process of enabling and enriching, rather than repeating and forgetting.

By creating the habit of writing (something I love) I have now been able to create other habits to fit into a daily routine. Do I love making sure I wash up after every meal? Not particularly. I have the potential to minimize the effect on my wrist if I wash up as I go, rather than running out of plates and doing a huge wash up. It's not as enriching as writing, but I know over time I'm enabling myself to achieve more in the day. So I'm making the choice to do it. And it feels good. 

I'm learning that creating habits is a daily choice. Every time you do it, the task becomes a little bit easier and automatic. And you start to notice it becomes a bit like a dance. Then, out of nowhere, the groove comes along.

- Em x