How can we measure the utility of a habit? This question is important because its answer helps us figure out what habits to incorporate into our lives. It determines which ones to keep and why.
I tend to evaluate a habit carefully before I commit. And I’m willing to adjust it to make sure it provides the benefit I seek or adequately serves the goal I’m after. For, example I wrote a couple days ago about committing to putting my keys and wallet and phone away, where they go, anytime they are not directly in use. The utility of this habit is the saving of untold future hours looking for these items, more importantly the avoidance of worry, frustration, aggravation, and inconvenience that occurs every time I misplace any of these items. For me, this proves the value of this habit and justifies keeping it. I have modified some habits as well. My daily workout evolved into a 3 day rotation cycle that hits different body parts on each day. So each muscle group gets focused attention twice a week, and gets a couple days recovery before being hit again, to cap it off I have a stretching only day on Sunday. Don’t think I’m getting off easy though, yoga and stretching are demanding disciplines in themselves.
Some habits offer the opportunity to build your “mental callous.” This is where you do something even though it really sucks. You head into the pain, and areas of mental or emotional discomfort that you normally would avoid David Goggins style (YouTube him). Perhaps this is advanced 365 Commitment level stuff. It is real character building stuff; awesome training for breaking out of the barriers you have allowed yourself to be trapped within in the past.
But, there are places I just don’t want to go yet. Like checking my mail every day, and actually dealing with each piece of mail definitively. Uuughh. I hate checking the mail. We are a family of five, so there is a lot of mail. All those decisions, demands and responsibilities intermingled with coupons, credit card offers and too good to be true sales pitches, and college brochures, endless college brochures for my teens. So, it looks like I will I continue to suffer with the consequences of poor mail management. Which is piles of paper with the occasional few hours sacrificed on a Saturday to deal with it all. I’d rather do 100 pushups than check the mail!
As someone with a history of weak daily discipline, merely holding to any routine or habit qualifies as “embracing the suck.” I don’t like being disciplined. I don’t like putting my keys away in the same spot every time. But I’m doing it anyway. I don’t like getting up at 5am. But, my body doesn’t consult me on this anymore, it just wakes up on its own. I don’t like exercising every day, but I like the way my body is changing and my increased energy levels and lower stress prove the value. These habits are becoming ingrained, and soon they’ll become more and more automatic, making room for additional habits to become incorporated. But selecting what’s next to incorporate can be a tough choice.
How you justify the selection of the habits to incorporate into your 365 journey is up to you. Other than the required foundational habits that define the core of the 365 Commitment, it’s wide open to your particular customization and goals. But, don’t give up on a habit unless you are sure that it is not serving what is most important to you. For example. If building your mental callous and personal discipline is most important, than the nature of the habit is less important than the fact that you keep it no matter what. On the other hand, you may need to give up those habits that are not serving your highest goals. Above all, in all these decisions, remember the 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not fake thyself out.”
Ben Wagner (25)
Member 365 Commitment