The music at First Avenue is eardrum-ruining loud and – like an idiot – I’ve forgotten ear plugs. After a few songs I can’t enjoy because I’m certain I’m going deaf, I push my way towards the bathroom. I’m convinced I can fashion makeshift ear protection from tiny, wadded up pieces of toilet paper.
And it is there, in the bathroom stall at a music venue, that I see a quote that changes the way the way I navigate my professional and creative life:
I ignore the profanities and graffiti surrounding this gem and stumble back into the music, thinking about this. If I am what I do every day, what things should I be doing every day? What kind of life do I want and what can I do every day to help me get there?
I thought about this, friends. I thought about it for the rest of the concert. I thought about it as I drove home. I thought about it as I lay in bed, squinting at the ceiling.
And then I slowly and systematically started to create habits that support the professional and creative life I want.
It’s an overcast Tuesday night and it’s happening again.
I’ve been horizontal for two hours now, slowing eating my way through a bag of pizza rolls. The sheet pan lies on the floor and my laptop sits on the coffee table, both within easy reach so I can alternate between eating cheesy pillows of goo and clicking through 90s music videos on Youtube.
Pizza roll. No Diggity. Pizza roll. The Boy Is Mine. Pizza Roll. Karma Police.
This isn’t the first time I’ve done this. For a 1.5 year window, this pizza roll + music video binge became, well, a habit. Whenever the stars aligned (the weather was bad, Kenny was gone, and I’d worked too hard) I’d find myself on the couch. Somehow, there would be pizza rolls in my mouth and *NSYNC in my ear.
Did you notice how I phrased that paragraph? As though I was powerless? As though this bad habit ‘happened’ to me and I didn’t have any control over it or myself? AS THOUGH A BAG OF PIZZA ROLLS IS SMARTER THAN ME?
Friends, it’s time to have a brutally honest conversation about bad habits and why we “can’t” break them.
Please raise your hand if your daily routine looks anything like mine:
Drink virtuous breakfast smoothie. Resist the urge to eat an entire package of fake bacon. Write an ambitious but doable to-do list. Dutifully wash my breakfast dishes. Make my bed. Resist the urge to crawl back into bed.
Make a sooooomewhat virtuous lunch while listening to podcasts. Check Instagram but for, like, a reasonable amount of time. Keep plugging away at big project. Resist urge to fall down a Facebook hole. Take the dog for a walk. Resist the desire to stop at the bakery and buy/eat 15 donut holes.
Eat a virtuous salad. Hate the stupid salad and then make a giant bowl of pasta. Open laptop to just “research something super quick” and fall down a social media hole for two hours. Stand in the kitchen, mindlessly eating peanut butter from the jar while looking at the yard and thinking about how fat the squirrels are. Try to go to bed at a reasonable time but stay up talking till 11:30.
Yes? Yes. But did you know there’s a reason why we do this? Why our self-control slowly crumbles as the day passes?
It’s any given Tuesday and you stretch yourself awake, nestled between clean, high thread-count sheets. You pad downstairs and tuck into a delicious, nourishing breakfast. You meditate. You journal. You put on a lovely, well-planned outfit, before opening your laptop to begin a day of creative, fulfilling, productive work.
Is that what your mornings look like? Weird, me neither!
But I sure wish they did and this year I’m doing my damnedest to get closer to a morning like that.
Like most humans with a pulse, I’m not always great at sticking to my resolutions or achieving every goal I attempt. And it’s not always for lack of trying! Sometimes I literally just forget about them.