Here are some things that I’ve tried and failed:
1. Eating less dairy
2. Going completely screen-free after 6 pm
3. Not checking my email till noon
4. Eating every meal at my dining room table, with a place mat and napkin – never, ever in front of my laptop, scanning Facebook as I eat popcorn with a spoon
…. and about a million other things.
I’ve read articles and studies that support these lifestyle changes and whenever I do these things I feel amazing. I feel like a brighter, shinier, more centered version of myself.
Which you’d think would be enough, right?
But inevitably, something will happen – I’ll travel and fall out of my routine, I’ll have a week of early meetings that require 7 am email checking – and allofasudden I’ve fallen back into my cheese-scarfing, screen-staring, Twitter-refreshing rut.
This will trigger a lot of internal eye rolling and some mild self-flagellation. I’ll huff around my apartment muttering “Get it together, Von Bargen!” More than once I’ve referenced my own blog post How To Restart A Bad/Annoying/Unproductive Day and I regularly wonder “Is it easier for everyone else? Am I fated to spend the rest of my life falling off the wagon and clawing my way back on?”
I brought this question to my friends Katie and Jina and, oracle-like, they gave me this piece of tattoo-worthy wisdom:
Don’t you want to write that inside your eyelids? Or at the very least frame and hang it next to your bathroom mirror?
None of us will be perfect 100% of the time – and we shouldn’t expect ourselves to be. It’s not kind, realistic, sustainable, or particularly interesting. But it’s called a work in progress, not a make-a-list-you-then-ignore in progress or a give-up-after-one-try in progress.
What does that work look like?
For me, that work looks like following more vegan food blogs and trying some of the dairy substitutes at my co-op. It looks like using Cold Turkey to block myself from email and social media till noon or taking my laptop somewhere that doesn’t have wi-fi. It looks like actually turning off my laptop at 6 pm and closing the door to my office.
Will these measures make me a flawless human who never eats a whole wedge of Parmesan in one sitting or falls down a Broad City hole?
No. And frankly, I’m not interested in perfection and I’m certainly not interested in a life that doesn’t include cheese curds or the occasional Hulu marathon.
But I’m ready for a bit more progress in my work in progress.
Do you struggle to stick with habits you know are good for you? How do you stay on track? Do you have a mantra that helps? Tell me all about it in the comments!