When I was a kid, my mom and I had regular battles over a range of topics - whether or not I had to wear a dress on formal occasions, why I couldn’t take my shirt off in the yard when I was hot (I was five), and why it was a bad idea to stand up to pee.
The biggest fight we ever had though, was the day she pulled out a pair of green leotards for me to wear under the dress that I had already rejected.
As far as I could tell, she’d peeled a layer of scales off of Puff the Magic Dragon and was asking me to put the dead skin on my legs.
That’s when I took off screaming to find my dad and ask why I couldn’t, please, please just wear my Tonka pants.
My opinion didn’t change years later when my mom handed me a pair of pantyhose to wear under my high school graduation dress.
I pulled the shriveled nylons out of the package and held them up to my waist in disgust.
“You bought the wrong size,” I said.
She didn’t look up from the dress she was ironing.
“They’re one size fits all.”
Anyone who has ever worn pantyhose knows that one size fits all is total bullshit (sorry Mom, that I said bullshit. Again).
And yet many of us still find ourselves pursuing a one size fits all approach when it comes to fitness, nutrition, and even relaxing. We are all of us, myself included, inspired and influenced to make habit changes based on what we see and learn from others. I am incredibly guilty of this. I’ve learned a lot from Doug since I worked with him - especially when it comes to productivity - and last year he inspired me to buy a planner for 2017.
So I did. It was a blog planner and it was filled with good ideas and structure for how to maintain my blog. My last entry was in May.
I’ve tried to use planners a few times over the years, and each time, I find myself returning to the simple habit of list building. Planners are a perfect fit for Doug’s personality. That planner eventually made me feel boxed in. I wilt a little on the inside at the idea of all of my days being planned.
But I tried it anyway because I admire Doug’s productivity and am trying to find ways to finish more of my own projects. But it won’t be from using a planner.
Because your habits have to suit you.
Let me say that again.
Your habits have to suit you.
So how do you know exactly which habits are right for you? Self-knowledge. What do you know about yourself? What kind of learner are you? Where do you get your energy? Are you an introvert or extrovert?
How do you respond to outer expectations? Will you show up to the gym because you’ve made an appointment and you don’t miss appointments? When we first started Team Training at Spurling, there was a group of three or four ladies who began asking each other if they’d be at the next class. Now, we have a group of 14 or more people who expect to see each other for class, and if one person doesn’t show up, they notice.
How do respond to inner expectations? I told myself I would workout three times per week and I’m going to do that.
We need to see ourselves accurately before we can change.
Self-knowledge and self-awareness can be tricky. Sometimes it can be tough to acknowledge some truths about ourselves, especially when it relates to behaviors we’d like to change. But taking the time to understand what’s important to us, what we value, and what we like and don’t like can go a long way in helping us develop habits that suit us.
And because it seems right to remind everyone, including myself, at every opportunity - be kind. To yourself, to the cashier at the grocery store, to your annoying co-worker, and to everyone - because we need more kindness in this world.