Have you ever considered getting to work any time you like, maybe missing work on those rainy days, in fact working from home the majority of the time, skipping those meetings, watching TV whenever you like, not having to wake up at any particular time, being able to travel on a whim without external consequence?
Welcome to my life; yet, here I am complaining.
I’ve been lucky to be navigating my 20s with all the spontaneity I can muster. I don’t plan my life for more than six months ahead, because I like to leave room for the unexpected. Among my friends, I’m notoriously flighty (but still productive and responsible 💅🏾). With money, I’ve been lucky to make just enough to fund my standard of living, and the fact that I have an unwavering resolve that all will be well makes me unafraid to spend all my money on experiences.
This all works when I can still progress; when I can be super productive at work and learn new things. But recently, I’ve been stumped and unable to show results for my way of life.
Self control and habit
While I was thinking about all this, I read some popular articles about self control. I couldn’t get substantial things done, and sometimes I chalked it up to fatigue. Eventually, I concluded self control was the one thing I lacked in the moment that had me spiralling down my existential sunken place, so I started reading about it.
In one of this articles, this was a top highlight:
We don’t think of self-control for what it really is: the harnessing of habit.
This was a pattern across the articles, and it was interesting because I’ve always been a big opponent of habit, even though I’d just recently been practicing it: cooking once a week, running three times, two french lessons, eating healthy on weekdays, actual work. I figure there are two types of habit:
Time-based habit: 9–5s, weekly 10pm meetings, 8am church, etc. Usually, I cannot get myself to keep up with anything that happens at a specific time in a repetitive pattern — if I have the choice.
Task-based habit: Run twice a week, cook once, go to the office twice, etc. Since there’s wiggle room for how and when I execute these tasks, I tend to exercise self control with these for longer periods of time. But even then, I end up slacking.
So, I started reading about types of habit, in a bid to find a way to maintain self control (and habit) for longer periods of time without losing my sense of eccentricity.
Looking over my existence, I’ve tried to pick out the things I do the most habitually (e.g documenting on Snapchat) and figure out why I can keep up. I plan to use all this information to model an ideal way for me to stick to doing things for longer. I’m also poring the internet for ideas and other answers to some of these questions. Some links I’ve curated so far include:
- Identity-based habits
- Habits vs addictions
- Promoting habits with incentives
- Spontaneity as habit
- How the brain makes and breaks an habit
- Taming your inner routine rebel
If you’ve battled with this or have any recommendations for me, please let me know. Hopefully in a few months I can return with the good news of how this bout of self reflection was pivotal.