Monday, November 10, 2014

Can You Establish A Habit? Or Do You Make Excuses?

Last night, I read Annette Gendler's blog post on taking walks. It made me admire her, made me feel more than a little guilty and also gave me some impetus to get back to regular walking for exercise. 

For several years, I walked on a regular basis. I started when my doctor recommended that I try it to lower my blood pressure and to ease some of the arthritis misery I'd been having. It wasn't easy to establish the habit, but when I did, I found that I thoroughly enjoyed my walks. In the spring and summer, I walked early in the morning and switched to afternoons the other two seasons of the year. Even those winter walks became a pleasure if I dressed in the proper attire. If ice and snow made the walks too treacherous, I drove to the mall and walked inside. I didn't like it nearly as well but it kept the habit going. 

I found that those solitary walks provided me with time to consider new story ideas. For some reason, they popped into my mind as I walked along the wooded trail not far from our house, much more easily than when I sat staring at my computer screen. 

Many days, I spent time counting my blessings as I placed one foot in front of the other for about 45 minutes. Nothing is so spirit lifting as realizing how many truly good things there are in one's life. If I had a problem of some kind, the walking time allowed me to consider it from several angles and to sort it out. I also liked hearing birds trill, the stages of the trees and flowers along the walking trail and the sky that treated me to a new look every day.

I stopped walking when I had some health problems that made if difficult. Once the habit is broken, it's not so easy to get it back.Then came a time that I knew I needed to establish the habit again.  I thought about it many times but I managed to assemble a long list of reasons that I wouldn't walk that day. I'd do it for 2 or 3 days in a row and enjoy it. Then, I'd miss a couple days and start in with the excuses again.I became an expert at finding reasons not to walk. Now, it's been longer than I even want to admit. 

I know I'd feel better. I know that regular exercise is beneficial. I know that I might lose a pound or two if I start walking regularly. I know that it takes discipline to establish the habit once again. I don't want to wait and make it a New Year's Resolution. Instead, I'm going to try short walks to begin with and hope to work up to 45 minutes once again. This is probably a bad week to begin because arctic air is to keep us in its grip from Tuesday into the early part of next week. It could be a good excuse to wait and begin the following week, but....

We get away from writing on a regular basis sometimes, too. If we write a little every day, we've established a habit. It needn't be hours worth. Twenty minutes will do. One of the reasons I started this blog was to make myself write something five days a week. The more I did it, the easier it became. Stop writing for a week or two and guess what happens? It's a whole lot easier not to write on week 3 or 4 or 5 or... Have you ever said to yourself I've got to get back to writing? I think we've all done so at some time in our writing life. 

It's hard work to establish a habit. It doesn't always happen in a flash. We need a goal. We need discipline. We need determination. We need to see the benefit it will bring to us. 

So how about it? Do you have something you want to do on a regular basis but haven't accomplished it yet? I'm going to work on getting that daily walk back into my life. If I miss a day, or even two, I'm not going to talk myself out of walking the next day. 


  1. I've always been more inspired by being away from my computer than by sitting in front of it. There was one particular year when I was working on a novel that I wrote over 10,000 words on my phone while enjoying a walk around town. I found myself more inspired by the outdoors than I did the inside of my home. I wrote more in those walks than I did in longer sessions of writing directly on my laptop.

    With that being said I fall under the category of people who want to get back to writing. I've felt stagnant in my productivity as of late and adopting a habit may very well do the trick. Or, at the very least, it'll get me twenty minutes a day closer to my end goal; which is twenty minutes closer than I'll be if I continue on the lazy path I've been on.

    1. You've definitely got the right attitude. The rest should follow. Once you do get back to writing, you'll probably feel gratified for the effort it takes.