Why Are Good Habits So Easy to Break?

I wrote my blog every Monday for over five years…and then I said I could change it up…and I wrote less…until I wrote nothing at all. Granted, this is partly due to time constraints, but if the cliché of it taking 21 days to create a habit holds true…how is it is so easy to break a habit of 5 years and 259 posts?

I’ve gone on plenty of streaks of good things…like disciplined writing or daily yoga or meditation or eating healthier or (insert any number of “good things”), and it historically has taken so little to derail them. I’m into my second half-century, and I’m still the person who can’t get her act together. I’ve been writing a daily journal for over 20 years, and if I page back through those years or even earlier entries in journals that I kept in fits and starts when I was much younger—I still see the same quest to create the perfect schedule or routine that will allow me to do all that I want and need to do. Of desires to improve choices and relationships. Of plans to do all the things. Great plans. Great things. And I still have figured out…zippo. It’s like…WTF have I been doing all these years?!

Clearly not achieving these goals, that’s for damn sure.

Last year for my birthday, my husband Mike went to the trouble of reaching out to people and asking them to write something about me and my relationship with them. It was made into a lovely keepsake album by the hands of a dear friend. It was a gift that showed that my hubby knows me—how I value the written word…how I value the relationships in my life…how I value kindness and experiences and memories… I loved reading the album when I first got it. Then I decided to put it on the shelf and take a peek only here and there, so that the words inside would not become too familiar to me. Of course, that turned into my not looking at it until my next birthday, which was just a couple days ago.

As much as I love this special compilation of care, I can’t help but feel like the people who took the time to write these words to me are talking about someone else—or they are sharing something about me that means something to them…but that I am now no longer doing. Several mentioned my blog and how they appreciated it. And here I am having left it untouched for over eight months. So much for a good habit.

And the reality is that I miss it. I miss writing it. I miss holding myself accountable like I did…I miss looking for ways to express what I’m feeling about the world around me. I miss hearing how people connected with what I shared. It’s like an old friend that I haven’t talked to in ages.

One of the reasons I let myself take the “break” that I did was that the climate of our society right now—the culture of divisive politics, finger pointing, and vitriol—made me want to step away. I’m not yet galvanized to wade back into those turbulent waters, but then I read in my special book about how people appreciated my honesty in sharing my viewpoints without trying to tear others down. It humbles me to know that people value that in my writing…and makes me consider heading back into those waters again…maybe…maybe?…

I don’t know.

If good habits are easy to break, how hard is it to bring them back once broken?

The truth we all know is that it’s easy to keep in familiar ruts and hard to climb to higher ground that you have to keep cultivating and working on. It’s just life, right? Weeds grow easily but crops need care. Muscle takes time to build but flab settles in readily. The good stuff is often hard and the bad stuff often easy. Sooo easy.

While I certainly don’t have the answers, I’m glad I still have the desire to continue to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield…unless I can squeeze a nap in. I hope that my journals in years to come aren’t still filled with entries of my grappling with all of my same “lacks.” Hope continues to spring even in old ladies. In the meantime, I’ve got to get back to my “planning to plan” session that I’ve been hoping to schedule…


(Thank you, Alfred Lord Tennyson!)

7 thoughts on “Why Are Good Habits So Easy to Break?

  1. Happy Belated, Lisa! I was excited to see your blog once again in my inbox. But you don’t owe your readers anything. You need to do what is right for you, in every season. Be as kind to yourself as you are to others.

    Everything you wrote resonated with me…I have often despaired of how easy it is to fall out of good habits, hard-won disciplines that are so easily derailed with a change of circumstances or perspective. Totally not fair. Developing good habits and abandoning them should at least be equal effort.:)

    Although I have never written a blog, we have a lot in common. I am a voracious reader, list-maker, wife, mom, and a healthcare worker, and I think of what I want to accomplish each day and grow as an individual….and then I binge-watch Handmaid’s Tale all night and eat a bag of Hershey kisses ( and not the dark ones either!). We are almost the same age, too. This political travesty we are experiencing now has affected me deeply as well. I have had to become a reluctant activist, and that is how I am dealing with the fear and conflict. Tomorrow I will canvass for Dem candidates and register voters, even while many I love disagree with me.

    I think you are an eloquent writer and a person I have enjoyed getting to know through your blog, and wherever the rhythms of life lead you, I appreciate what you have already put out there. Thank you.

    1. Thank you so much, Laura, for your kind and thoughtful comment. I really appreciate it. It’s nice to know what I shared resonated with you–and the Handmaid’s/Hershey’s comment certainly resonated with me and made me giggle! I really appreciate your effort to help get the vote out–very cool. Thank you for that. And again, thank you for the kindness and grace you shared with me here.

  2. Sometimes a break energizes us, right? So maybe you’ll find a whole new well of creativity and thoughts. The midlife thing is always fun (she says, grimacing). I’m definitely feeling the clock ticking . . .

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