The thing I almost always forget is that new habits eventually become automatic. I know this as a fact, intellectually, but when I’m in the midst of trying to form a new habit (floss, take my vitamins, write every day), that knowledge goes out the window. Instead, I usually get frustrated by my lack of progress and give up completely. It makes no sense, but then again, quitting feels easier than failing.
Initially you have all kinds of forces working against you: other habits that are competing for your time, resistance to doing anything that’s good for you, forgetfulness because the habit is not yet ingrained. When you’re forming a new habit, it takes conscious, intentional effort to make yourself go through the motions, and if humans hate anything it’s conscious, intentional effort. We like things to feel easy and automatic and painless. New habits are painful and slow and make us feel bad about ourselves when we can’t or forget to do them.
But if you keep showing up then slowly, surely, eventually, the new habit forms. It’s not necessarily easy, but somehow it’s easier. You’ve made room for the new habits among your old habits, without much fuss. There is less resistance, because you’ve shown up repeatedly and conquered it. You’re no longer forgetting, because the habit is just a normal part of your day. So suddenly, it feels: normal. Straightforward. Not a fight you’re fighting, but an emotionless item on your to-do list.
I’m getting there with this daily writing habit. It no longer feels negotiable, like I could talk myself into or out of it. It just is a part of my day. Same with flossing – I still don’t adore it, but it’s no longer such a big deal, just something to check off my self-care list. And as for that self-care list, on the whole I am feeling so much more balanced about it. Some days I can’t make everything happen, but taken together I can see all the progress I’ve made.
So I’m just reminding myself today that all habits will eventually become boring, and that’s the point. If it still feels like a fight, just keep going. It will eventually fade into the background.