Contrary to what you might think, I am actually terrible at keeping positive habits going.
My father passed away last month, and this has given me the opportunity – or should that be called a wake-up call? – to stop, and turn my gaze inwards.
I’ve come to the realisation, that while I’m not unhappy, I have only fulfilled a fraction of my potential. I find it incredibly difficult to consistently do the things that I know are both right, and also good for me. It almost feels like I’m juggling a few too many balls at the same time, and I have to keep dropping some so I can reach a number that I’m comfortable at.
I estimate that I make the wrong decision at least 50% of the time, and that figure is probably closer to 80% of the time. So of course I discovered the question I needed to ask myself:
Why do I not do what I should do?
I’m fully aware of what I should do, but actually getting out there and doing it, day in, day out, is the challenge.
I tend to slip up once, which is natural, and then this one slip tends to be the start of me destroying my new found positive habit.
I’ve done this more times than I can count, and so I set out to answer why I don’t do what I should do, even when I know exactly what it is I should doing.
As always, we as humans have a tendency to blame others, because we hardly ever believe that we are wrong ourselves, and in this time-worn tradition I will start by doing the same.
It’s other people that lead me astray.
While this may feel like an easy way out, this kinda actually works out.
I spent three years on and off in Palermo, Italy between the ages of 19 and 22 and I managed to turn my life around. I lost a lost of weight, somewhere in the region of 20kg, I started writing and gained hundreds of thousands of readers, and I discovered Stoicism. I had a good flow of life going, but there are few opportunities for a young man in south Italy, and so off I went to the other side of the world, armed with a small carry on luggage with 49 items.
Having gained full independence for this first time in my life, of course I took the liberty somewhat too far, following in other people’s bad habits.
However, while I think the cause of all this is other people, it is still actually my fault, because is reality we simply cannot blame other people, because we are ultimately personally responsible for our actions.
The real issue was that I don’t know how to life amongst other people without them influencing my wildly, and unless I want to become a hermit, I am going to have to live among people for quite a long time, so I need to learn to have a strong enough will to resist other people’s influence on my behaviour.
That’s the issue I have been facing in the last six months or so. I am too easily swayed.
I feel that I don’t give enough importance to each individual “wrong” act, which in the end creates a chain of actions..the type that have lead me to gain weight again, and to stop writing, etc…
Now that I have identified that I need to catch my own slip-ups early and often, I’ve come up with a method for doing this, which I call an “Emergency Manifesto”.
I know what you’re thinking: What the hell is that?
The idea behind it is simple, and you can use it whenever you think you are going to slip-up on one of your habits, or if you already have slipped up.
It’s a piece of writing that you create to remind yourself on the why you have taken the decisions that you have taken. What you want to achieve, and why the struggle is worth it.
This will, hopefully, give you the necessary strength of mind to continue going on your path.
He who has a strong enough why can bear almost any how. Friedrich Nietzsche
Thanks for reading,