How To Keep Going with Habits When Life Changes

How To Keep Going with Habits When Life Changes

The simple truth with self-improvement is that the best systems falter and break. Here’s how to keep going with habits when life changes.

No time? Listen to it instead

If the last couple of months have taught me anything, it’s that the best systems falter, and the best routines break. That’s how things are and will always be. So, it got me thinking about how to keep going and what that means overall when it comes to keeping an ideal life afloat.

Let’s Talk About Exponential

Most people talk about exponential curves in a positive sense today. That’s a beautiful thing.

There’s so much potential in understanding how things compound and grow exponentially.

However, there is an equally important side to it: the exponential downfall.

This article that talks about exponential curves feeling gradual and then sudden reminded me of the famous Hemingway quote from his novel, The Sun Also Rises.

“How did you go bankrupt?” “Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly.”

That’s how it is with our habits, routines and systems too. It all starts gradual and with a day. It is, therefore, crucial to keep going amidst a crisis or time of turbulence.

Don’t Add Habits; Maintain or Subtract

However, that shouldn’t add to the overwhelm. Instead, either maintain it where it is or to decrease it.

For example, let’s consider a person who has to travel back and forth between cities throughout a month. Let’s say there’s a personal emergency but nothing critical. The tumultuous timings and routine will, of course, break their habit of working out at 7 AM.

That’s the point where it starts. The gradual decrease or fall of every good habit they’ve taken the time and pain to cultivate. The reasoning for this is simple.

Easy Becomes Difficult

Whenever there is a change in context, the activities that you can easily do in your present context suffer the most.

Remember: we have to make it easy, not difficult, if the behaviour is desirable.

Let’s say this person’s hack to workout regularly lies in them keeping their workout clothes and mat in the hall every night. However, they’re regularly travelling to a different place. They don’t have a hall for this month. So, the workouts pause.

“I’ll start in a few days when this is over,” they tell themselves.

The Elephant in the Hall

However, they forget that on a typical day, after the post-workout shower and meal, they used to sit down and read for an hour. Since there are no workouts, the reading pauses.

You get where this is going. Habits, especially when stacked, are like a house of cards. They fall apart if you’re not careful.

Find the Bare Minimum

That’s where the idea of finding the bare minimum comes into play. The thing about an exponential equation is that you can still play around with the weights.

The downfall may happen anyway and be exponential regardless, but you can always flatten the curve a bit.

I’m sure everyone knows what that means now—you stretch the habits falling apart to until you’re back in control.

You do that by doing things you can do easily; you do that by finding the bare minimum.

Of Not Losing Track

It’s important to know that if you entirely excuse something from your life for an extended period, getting back to it is almost impossible. It’s incredibly difficult. For example, I used to run for 5km every morning between ninth and tenth standards in school.

I paused that as the load from my studies and freelancing increased. Eventually, I stopped doing that altogether. In a couple of years, I gained weight and became less fit than I used to be. I was no specimen of fitness on both versions, but I knew which was worse for me.

That’s the idea.

My Recent Shift of Cities

Since I moved back to my hometown, I knew I had to keep my Duolingo and Elevate streaks alive. Also, reading on the Kindle is easy enough, despite an immediate change in the environment. The tricky thing was working out as regularly as I was before I moved back.

The reason was lack of space. It’s not the first time I’ve faced this challenge either so while it was frustrating, I still knew what I was doing. So, I did exactly what I had done earlier: I took walks in the evening.

The walks ensured that “physical activity” didn’t entirely disappear from my day-to-day. After moving in last night, I started to build my older routine again. Most things are precisely as they used to be back in August now.

It’s as simple as flattening that exponential curve of downfall. That’s how you keep going and keep your habits intact.

The Nudge

Often and almost surely, our best habits will fall apart with a change in context. That’s where we excuse ourselves. That’s perfectly fine, and necessary when needed. Sometimes, the activities never resume. The excuse becomes a lifestyle choice. It is essential to stay aware then, irrespective of tumultuous times. We must keep the bare minimum up. The idea is simple: you stretch the difficult days, weeks or months far enough without fully breaking your life. That’s how you keep going.

Original Featured Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash.

If you liked this post, you’ll like the newsletter which also reminds you of the previous week’s post. Also, if you’re absolutely inclined, consider buying me a coffee to help support this website. Most important of all, please take care of yourself and those around you. These are trying times and I wish you all the health in the world.

2 Replies to How To Keep Going with Habits When Life Changes

  1. This was really helpful! I’m sort of trying to maintain the habits I decided on and it really seems a bit challenging due to a shift in my current routine. The idea of at least not losing track and doing the bare minimum can ensure that I still maintain something of what I decided while I find balance with the new ones. I really liked how you added a reference to your own ‘moving to a different place’ situation. As always, really liked the article and will try applying what you mentioned!
    Thank you so much! 🙂

    1. Hey, Anushree! Thank you so much for commenting. I’m glad that you feel it has applicable bits that you can borrow from, and I sincerely hope that you’re able to keep the habits up! Thanks for reading!

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