The Average Girl's Guide to Bullet Journaling: The Land of Unsteady Habits
Habit changing is not easy. I would very much like for it to be but the reality is that significant change takes significant effort. And minor change also requires significant effort. It’s a whole scam.
I started bullet journaling many moons ago (+/- 2 years ago) with the intention of monitoring and evaluating my life such that I could take corrective measures where necessary. So far, I have done a pretty decent job of monitoring and evaluating. The corrective measures, though? Not so much.
Of course, this pursuit of better habits and the consequent lack of achievement (as far as my type A mind is concerned) has had me feeling extremely frustrated. Because I know better. Better is literally right there. It’s just a choice. Why can’t I spend less time on my phone switching between apps, when I am actively aware of the fact that I could be doing literally anything else and it would be 1000% more productive and fulfilling? Why do I still order junk food I know I shouldn’t have when I know that I have food at home that I can cook up much faster than the delivery man will get to my door? Why do I continuously put aside my passions and interests in favour of procrastination? Do you know how far I would be now if I didn’t procrastinate? I do! I know! And yet…
I reckon it’s a number of things:
Humans (myself included because I am one) are creatures of comfort. We like what we know. I haven’t experienced any severe or tangible consequences for my social media habits, so why change them? I haven’t gained too much weight yet, so whats wrong with another order of chicken McNuggets? My livelihood isn’t dependent on me being invested in my passions and interests, so what’s the rush? I am comfortable.
I don’t pay enough attention to my triggers. Stress, exhaustion, guilt, anxiety, anger. They’re all “good” reasons for why I just don’t do the things that are good for me. I had a long day at work, I can’t actually be expected to cook dinner tonight? Or don’t I at least deserve to binge watch a full season of something? My colleague annoyed me so I should go on an out-of-budget shopping spree. It’s all justified.
I only focus on what I’m not doing - not what I’ve already achieved. So naturally I feel like shit and the cycle (see item 2) repeats itself. But I have developed some good habits. I drink 2l of water everyday. I wash my dishes every night. I always make my bed in the morning. I have a decent exercise regimen. I wash my face and brush my teeth twice a day most days (instead of just once a day). These are small things, but that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? If you can’t get the small things sorted, how do you expect to sort the big things out? (in my head, I sounded very British when I typed that).
I’m not as self-aware are I like to think I am. I’m reading a book by Gretchen Rubin called Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Everyday Lives. In the book, Gretchen classifies people into 4 groups: Upholders, Questioners, Obligers and Rebels. Upholders “respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations”. Questioners “question all expectations and will meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified”. Obligers “respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations”. Finally, Rebels, “ resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.
This was so fascinating to me because it helped me put into context why I do some things the way that I do them. For example, having a gym buddy to hold me accountable has never worked - I’m not an Obliger. I generally don’t care about other people’s expectations. I’m not very good at doing what I don’t feel like doing, so if I don’t want to go to gym or eat healthy, I just won’t.
I’m probably something between a Questioner and a Rebel. I need a good reason why but I also need the freedom to do it or not to do it.
I might not be applying Gretchen’s research correctly, but my point is, knowing who you are and how you tick is instrumental in making some positive habit changes in your life. For instance, further into her book, Gretchen splits people into either being an “abstainer” or a “moderator”. Abstainers are people who completely cut out something from their lives - all cold turkey-like. Moderators are people who are able to indulge occasionally without completely falling off the wagon.
When I tell you that my mind was blown… I am not a moderator. Self-control is not my strong suit. 5 minutes on my phone turns into an hour long session. Take-out on Tuesday becomes take-out on Wednesday and Friday and Sunday. Some things in my life I am just better off without. So when I’m working, my phone mustn’t be anywhere near me until I’m done working. The food delivery apps need to be deleted. Convenience is my crutch. I know this now.
But truthfully, I’ve known this for some time and I still have many of my bad habits. So what is it? If I know I need to pay more attention to my triggers, be more positive and I know more about how I’m set up as a person and how that influences my habit forming tendencies, why still, do I stumble? Self-worth. Do you ever think that you’re not that type of person? The one who does those things that “successful” people do? Sometimes I do. I think this point ties in with point 3 - the negative self-talk, the vicious cycle.
So am I saying that if you value yourself more and believe in yourself more, you’ll make smarter choices and build better habits? Yes. Very probably.
To be honest, I didn’t expect to end of this post talking about self-worth. But I guess that’s the power of writing, the truth or some version of it kind of unfolds as you go. I can put a habit tracker in my bullet journal every month (as I do) but that’s not enough if I don’t believe in the why I want to change that habit or that I deserve to change and grow. The question is do I value myself enough to do what is good for me? I would like that answer to always be yes.
What do you think? Is self-worth actually the crux of the matter when it comes to building better habits? Or is it just a small slice of a bigger pie?