New Year, New Habits

There are people in this world that get up every day and relish the challenge that life brings. Then there are folks like myself that get up every day and manage to consume a cup of coffee without hurting anyone. Life’s challenges don’t come until about an hour after the second cup.

I spent a good portion of my 20s and early 30s trying to convince myself that I was a motivated go-getter. I have passed my natural half-life at this point so I decided to be honest with myself: I am actually pretty content to just putter around the house and try a new flank steak marinade. 

I signed up for the newsletter by this guy James Clear, who writes a lot about the power of habits. A lot of it is standard motivational type stuff, but some of it speaks to me so I keep reading. I am also a BIG believer in the power of habit. There are some things in my life that are already on auto-pilot, but there are a lot more things that I don’t do regularly that I’d like to make automatic. 

If I was sitting down and designing a calendar from scratch, I wouldn’t pick January to start a new year. I owe nothing to Janus, for one. For two, it’s too cold, I’m broke from Christmas, and the last thing I want to do is haul my carcass out of hibernation in some misguided attempt to make a New and Better Me.

September is a great month to start a new year. It feels a lot more precipitous for change. Still on the edge of summer, but you know colder weather is right around the corner so you better get that harvest in if you want to eat.

January really has a lot of the “just ride it out” quality to it– in September there’s still time to scramble and get things done if you hurry.

Today I decided to write down a bunch of stuff in my calendar so it would show up on my phone as a repeating reminder. Every day except for Sunday, I am going to:

  • Get up at the same time every morning
  • Have only one cup of coffee, then go for a run
  • Come back and put on Grown Up Clothes, as if I Am Going to Leave The House
  • Eat a decent breakfast and help the rest of the family get out of the door on time every morning so I can walk the kids to school
  • Sit down at the computer and try to write for at least 30 minutes

It is a sign of how far I have to go that I am going to feel accomplished about waking up.

I have always struggled with slipping into Sloth Mode… I want to create a feeling of wrongness when I’m not doing these things. I am particularly excited about the last one, because it’s led to this post, and will, in time, get me to finish The Book.

Yes I am writing a book. No I don’t want to talk about it right now. But I have an outline, so that’s a start.

Any of you all struggling with bad habits and trying to form good ones? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.


18 thoughts on “New Year, New Habits

  1. Currently working my way through college, 33, dad, a lot like you. In fact my sloth mode resembles yours and I could benifit from the same exact list. Most days all I can manage to do is help the four month old survive another day without too much crying (her crying…) and get my assignments done the day they are due.


    1. What’s really dumb is that I was resisting doing this for a while… had to ask myself what was I afraid of?

      Good luck with school- it took me 10 years to get my undergrad (that’s another post) but I don’t regret a penny spent on it.


      1. Thankfully I get to use my GI bill, but it isn’t easy with 2 kids and a wife that works. I should probably do this list… after all I used to wear grown up clothes a lot lol. Your writing is awesome, not sure what your book is on, but I will buy a copy.


  2. I totally agree with you about September being a better month for resolutions. Fall is such an inspiring time, the dead of winter, not so much. I don’t work outside the home, but I’m fairly content with my go-with-the-flow ways. My resolutions are to be a bit more disciplined in our homeschooling routine, make sure we get more outdoor time now that the weather is cooling off, and to not yell at my kids too much. Now I’m feeling motivated to write my own post 🙂


    1. You write ’em, I’ll read ’em!

      I have been trying to decide how much to fight my natural inclinations versus rolling with it and came to the conclusion I might have rolled a bit too far.


  3. I am big-time in favor of writing shortly after running (well, not that I run unless someone’s chasing me, and with kale–but, after exercise in general), and getting the kids off to school before you do it. (I too find wearing clothes to make for a more productive writing experience, but I’m sure there are some great stories that claim otherwise.) And hey, if you can write a book on a cup of coffee a day, more power to you. Good luck, and report back!


    1. Oh that’s misleading of me… my Old Bad routine was nurse two cups of coffee over as many hours. My New Good routine is drink one cup before exercise … and another afterwards. Writing time is actually scheduled for 9:30 PM. I am definitely a night owl and being a little tired hasn’t hurt me so far. 2 weeks into early rising is a different story, however…


  4. 1) If James Clear is working for ya, then def keep reading stuff by him. (I liked his article about the sleep study.)

    2) I also highly recommend reading “Awakening the Giant Within” by Tony Robbins and “The Happiness Project” by Gretchin Rubin. They’re both good books about making sure your daily actions are in alignment with your life’s goals.

    “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” by Deepak Chopra is a good, quick read for managing some of the daily human impulses that get in the way of a person achieving their goals. And it also appears that he has since written “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success for Parents”, which might be useful.

    3) On the topic of a person setting new goals for themselves:

    “To thine self always be true.”
    “Today is better than tomorrow, and right now is better than today.”


    Go get’em!!


  5. I love the idea of New Year in September. I may have to steal this idea.

    Being at home all day every day (my kids are enrolled in an on-line public school, so they “go to school” upstairs) means that it’s easy to skip stuff. Nuh-uh. Just like going off to school, everyone must be dressed, cleaned, teeth brushed, and fed before sitting down for work. No sloths here.

    PS — My 12-year-old wearing a bedhead at noon had to “buy” his next haircut from me ($10) or get a clipper burr for free. Since he’s saving for something very expensive — and didn’t want to dip into that — he begrudgingly opted for the burr-cut. He hates it, so that would be a typical sloth consequence over here.

    PPS — I’m a mean mom and get pleasure from “helping” consequences to happen. I guess that makes me a sadist too. I hope they all live to adulthood…


    1. I think it’s great you’ve managed to maintain that level of discipline… it can be a challenge getting all of that done when my guys have to leave the house– can’t imagine trying to get them all to “work from home” like I do.

      My 12 year old quickly adopted to practicality of the “#2 all over” cut– fits under his swim cap and one less thing to worry about. Making them make hard choices is what parenthood is all about IMO.


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