Let's Talk Habits

I wrote the last blog post (and first of this blog...) almost two months ago. I had a plan, or at least a vision, for this blog, but I certainly did not have the writing habit. In fact, it's been more than two years since I've written anything at all outside of my job and my graduate course work. It's a shame, really. So much time when I could have been writing the Next Great American Novel or entertaining the masses with witty essays or thoughtful blog entries. Oh well. And that's the end of the "what might have been" talk. Now, let's talk habits.

Last week, I finished Charles Duhigg's fascinating book, The Power of Habit. Duhigg examines habits from the lens of individual routines and their potential to impact corporate or communal habits. I'll save the business part of it for another day, but I want to discuss something he wrote about willpower that has stuck with me: Willpower is a muscle, and just like any other muscle, we can exercise and strengthen it. For example, the first time we log off Facebook and pick up a book may be tough, but the more we make that choice, the easier it becomes. In a study on willpower, researchers found that "...as [participants'] willpower muscles strengthened, good habits seemed to spill over into other parts of their lives" (Duhigg). When I read that, I wanted to scream out, "I want that! I want good habits!" 

This all sounds quite obvious, I know, but I think so many of us are hard-pressed to take that first step, that first, difficult display of willpower. I've got a laundry list of skills I want to master, ways I want to spend my time, habits I want to develop. The life I want to lead is one filled with goals made and goals achieved. If I focus on just one goal and make it a habit, perhaps the other habits will fall into place. Actually, not "perhaps" - they will fall into place! Science says so. So here goes it, habit numero uno, the first domino I want to set in motion: I want to write every day, here or elsewhere, just write, write, write. On that note, I'll see you tomorrow. 

- EM