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Organic Habits: Your "Why"

Why do you want to make this change in your life? This is a key question when grow a new habit. For it to be an Organic habit, the "why" needs to be fed by your sense of self, not because you think you should do something. "Shoulding all over yourself" is the wrong kind of manure to grow a healthy habit.

I was thinking this as I decided not to try to start my habit of choice on January 1, 2020. I have been thinking that the habit I next want to instill is morning exercise. The plan was to add this as a leaf to my morning vine, right after scooping cat litter and washing my hands. When the new year dawned, I rolled out of bed and had this conversation with myself:

Me: "Wait, why do I want to do this? I've been sick this week, and my joints ache in the morning."

Myself: "You should exercise. Everyone needs aerobic exercise to stay healthy and you don't get enough exercise in your normal routine."

Me: "Gah. I hate exercise. I even got out of taking high school gym class. Can't I just read a book about exercising and call it even?"

Myself: "No, you should do this, and if you don't do it, I'm going to make you feel guilty about not doing what you should all day long."

Guilt! The only motivator in there is guilt and a negative self-image. Those feelings come from somewhere other than the core of your best self. It may be your mother's voice, or your doctor's, but it isn't your own true voice. As one therapist put it, "The "should" police are here to tell you that, as you are, you are not good enough" (Source). To top it off, if you are a rebellious sort of person, you hear those voices and your deepest self says, "Heck no, I'm not doing that thing."

Back to my original question: Why do you want to make this change in your life? This time, focus on the want. I, for example, really don't want to ride my effing exercise bicycle first thing in the morning. However, I really do want to be able to hike in the forests near my home comfortably. Without being in better shape, those lovely hikes aren't going to happen this summer.

I can see myself (rural girl, vaguely crunchy-granola, tree-hugging) walking in the woods. That fits my sense of self, or a sense of self that I harmonize with. Yet something about rolling out of bed and riding an exercise bike doesn't fit that person that I want to be.

There's the point where you can flip the should to the want. I want to be able to hike to those waterfalls this summer. In order to do that, I'm going to do aerobic exercise. I'm choosing to ride my bike because it's the most convenient tool I have at home. I'll also post pictures like this--from a favorite waterfall day with a dear friend--to help me remember my real why.

Estatoe Falls, NC
Estatoe Falls, NC.

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