Monthly review – failing at habits

I love the topic of habits. I love the science behind it. I read lots of articles and listen to lots of podcasts about habits and while I would consider that I am pretty good at setting positive habits in general, there are some areas where I still find it super hard.

In March I would say that I failed at my habit of practicing detachment. Some would argue that if you are practicing and just don’t get it right then that isn’t failing and I would agree with that. But there were too many times in March where I didn’t even practice detachment.

It was like I was determined to hold on to things super tightly that annoyed me and made me unhappy. I would re-run or pre-empt situations which is not at all conducive to letting go. I could attempt to apportion blame to those who were doing the wrong thing around me, but this would simply be a cop out and not helpful to me at all.

I know I have a choice in how I react and too many times I made the wrong choice. So when it came time to write this monthly review, I had to spend a significant amount of time reflecting on my behaviour. My lack of detachment wasn’t isolated to one person. It wasn’t isolated to a particular issue and upon reflection I think there were two key issues going on:

  • It just felt too hard to let go – I thought that it would require too much emotional energy to go through the practice of letting go.
  • I felt I was right – at other times when I wouldn’t detach, I felt that I was in the right and why should I have to let go?

Neither of these reasons seem valid when you think them through:

  • It just felt too hard to let go – it absolutely does require a lot of emotional energy to let go, but once I do, it is over and I feel so much better. When I stay attached however, I hold on to negative emotions for a much longer period of time and this is actually much more exhausting and detrimental to my happiness over the long term. It is a classic case of taking a short cut and paying for it later.
  • I felt I was right – I look back at the times that I held on to issues because I thought I was right and sometimes I was and sometimes I wasn’t. Even in those instances where I was right, out of the heat of the moment now, I realise there is no scoreboard and it to hold to something for the sake of being right is actually pretty futile. I made situations worse, made myself feel worse and it honestly didn’t change the other person’s mind anyway!

So I have a lot to work on in April. I have outlined my strategy in my review below and a couple of days into April I feel I am practicing detachment with much greater intention. I am still far from perfect, but I have a much better mindset about what I am doing.

Are you struggling with a habit you are trying to form at the moment?

HabitConnection to goal - Detach from the old and embrace the new to nurture a family spirit of adventure.Poem quoteMarch Review
Practice detachment dailyMy attachment comes from the right place in terms of wanting the best for my family and myself, but it can be founded on beliefs that I hold that are not necessarily true or helpful. Letting go of this belief and creating a new one requires me to detach.

Detaching doesn't mean I stop caring or give up but it means I acknowledge it, explore it, process it, take action to move on and let it go.

Letting go of old or untrue beliefs will mean I can focus on being more supporting and encouraging to the kids.
"For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business."
~ T.S. Eliot
I definitely slipped with this habit in March. I let things get to me more than I should have, mainly because I kept holding on to them. I would re-run or pre-empt situations which is not at all conducive to letting go.

For April I am going to be choosing guided meditations that focus on detachment and letting go and when I do my own sessions, I will make this the focus of my meditation. I know from past experience this really works so I am hopeful I will be able to take more away from my meditations into family life and detach when I need to.
Develop the practice of mindful listeningSometimes listening can be hard. I think I know what the kids or others are going to say, I have things on my mind, I have something I want to say or I have things I would rather be doing than listening then and there.

Mindfully listening to others shows that you value them and it empowers them to share exactly how they are feeling. I want my kids to tell me about their dreams, their hopes, their fears and their crazy ideas. This won’t happen if I am not really listening.

“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
~ E.E. Cummings
Focusing on not interrupting and having the aim of conversations to find out more from the other person has really helped me with mindful listening.

If I want to find out more, I need to listen intently to what they are saying and then I can ask additional questions of them to find out more.
Do something new each month with the familyI love routine and being organised and sometimes I will take the option to spend time on these activities and not leave enough time for exploring something new.

This year I want to try some big and little adventures with the family.
"Dust if you must, but there’s not much time,
With rivers to swim, and mountains to climb;
Music to hear, and books to read;
Friends to cherish, and life to lead."
~Rose Milligan
From mud and sweat to fancy dining! In March we took the whole family out to a fancy dinner at a gorgeous restaurant in Melbourne.

The younger kids are not fans of having to get out of their shorts and t-shirts so just getting them into dressier clothes was a challenge.

We had the most wonderful time and all of the kids really enjoyed the experience too. It had been many years since we had done something like this with the whole family.
Use deliberate daily practice to learn something new each monthK. Anders Ericsson, a professor of Psychology at Florida State University, is a pioneer in researching deliberate practice. One of his core findings is that becoming an expert at a skill has more to do with how you practice rather than with just performing the skill many times.

To really embrace a new skill I need to intentionally practice, not just do the skill to tick the box to say I have done it. This is a practice I really want to develop and role model for my kids.
"Submit to a daily practice.
Your loyalty to that is a ring on the door.
Keep knocking, and the joy inside
will eventually open a window
and look out to see who’s there."
I have been using deliberate practice with my running. I have been running for five years now and I have never had any personalised coaching on my running, so I just run!

There are many ways you can increase your running efficiency and I have started listening to more running podcasts and picking up tips that I can implement in my training.

Two focuses in March that I have been deliberately practicing is how I tackle hill intervals and monitoring my cadence on my runs. When you love running it can be easy to just get out there and run, not thinking about what your body is doing. It has been great to have a focus for my training and I can see some small improvements already.
Develop a monthly decluttering habitOur house is relatively uncluttered but we really do have too much stuff.

All this extra stuff takes up space, time and energy - all of which I can reclaim and redirect when I declutter.
"The open space surrounding me
Clears my lungs
Makes me breath
I feel light
Vividly bright and empty
A room to dance in happily"
~Anna Elise
The older two boys have decluttered their wardrobes and I cleaned and decluttered both fridges.

Photo by Ankush Minda on Unsplash