Creating a Habit

Last month, while on spring break, my fiancé and I decided that we were going to return from vacation to put our excuses aside and finally do something we’d been telling ourselves we’d do all year: wake up earlier.  It’s really quite a simple goal, but for some reason we have never been able to accomplish it consistently. We were inspired by a couple that was on vacation with us, and set a goal for ourselves to wake up and work out in the morning before the day starts. A rather daunting challenge for me, while for others it is merely just a daily routine.

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When I was in college marching band, our director would remind us daily that some of the best things you can do are the hardest to complete. He infused motivational tips into our rehearsals, and one that has stuck with me ever since is that it takes 21 days to create a habit.

I think about this quite often, but have never actually put it to the test. I’ve never kept track of how many days it takes me to feel used to something new; instead I just remind myself that it’ll take about three weeks and hunker down to get it done. Sometimes I’m successful, while other times I’m not.

There is a great article from The Huffington Post about some of the discussion behind the 21 days rule here: How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit?

I decided to finally put this “rule” to the test, and set a goal for myself to wake up consistently at 4:30 am for 21 work days in a row, in order to complete my workout before leaving for work. (I’m not sure if my days actually count as “in a row” since I didn’t wake up at this time on weekends, but in my mind it does;).

Well, this morning was my 21st work day of waking up at 4:30 am! I am happy to have completed a full 21 days and am not going to lie, part of me thought I wouldn’t actually go through with it. I’ve told myself that I would wake up early to get this done so many times this year, only to reset my alarm when it went off, that I think my mind thought I was just messing with it again. Not this time! I finally defeated that little voice in my head that kept telling me I’d feel better if I slept in longer.

I do have to say that waking up and working out has gotten significantly easier as the days have passed! The moment my alarm goes off is never easy, but I’ve found that the time it takes me to feel fully awake once I’m out of bed has gone from 30 minutes down to about 3. I’ve also noticed that I wake up earlier on weekends without an alarm, and when I need to wake up between 6 or 7 it feels significantly easier! Waking up at this time has turned into one of those tasks that I ‘just do’. There are some things that you know are good for you but seem so challenging to start, and this is definitely one of them.

My plan is to continue waking up at this time for the remainder of the year (5 more weeks.) I’ve noticed that the work day seems much more manageable when I wake up at this time, and my thinking is much more positive. There has absolutely been a change in my attitude over the past month, and I 100% believe that this new habit is responsible.

As hard as it is to accept, I think that sometimes we need to ‘just do it.’ If there is something that you have been wanting to do for a long time but can’t find the motivation, get out there and just do it. I almost guarantee it will get easier! And if you’re not sure, give it a fair shot, and in the end if it’s not making you a better version of yourself, give it up. But at least then you know you aren’t missing anything and can continue on without guilt.

I am so happy to have this newly formed ‘habit’, and while there are still many days where I question getting up, it’s easier to do it because I know what the end result is and I know that I love it.

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