Habits……Like Carbon Monoxide

Donna Rice
Donna is a serial entrepreneur focused on serving children and families.
Personal Development

Feb 28,2017

HABITS……everyone talks about them! The good, the bad and the ugly. Creating positive and effective habits is critical to success in your personal and professional life. This is not news to you. We hear about habits almost every day. Some of the greatest thought leaders and motivational speakers regularly reinforce the importance of creating good habits. One of my favorites, Robin Sharma, through his teachings and online personal mastery sessions, dives deep into the subject of habits; the importance of effective habits and what it takes to create a habit and make it stick. I had the pleasure of participating in an event where Robin was presenting this past September and he described the habit forming process in detail. It does take work to create a good habit and make it last. Presenting at that same event was Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project”. Gretchen took the stage to talk about habits, the topic of her next book. She described how she has already spent countless hours researching and studying practices, routines or patterns that are hard to form and even harder to give up.  Easy to see that habits, as a subject itself, is quite significant. And this will be the focus of my article and more articles to come. 

If you have read my previous work, you already know that I am compelled to write from the heart about my experiences that may provide insight and help to others. The focus of this piece will be habits that form insidiously; those that develop gradually over time before we even realize that behaviors have changed and habits, bad habits, have formed. Like carbon monoxide, you cannot see it, feel it, smell it or taste it, but it is there. There is always a chance to save yourself or be saved, but you have to have situational awareness and presence of mind. 

With brutal honesty, I share with you one of my “bad habits’….I work…..a lot. I have worked a lot for as far back as I can remember, even in childhood. I get focused and lost in my work. That is a Habit with a capital H! Some good can and has come of this but not all good. Ask my children. They will tell you that when I have been in the HABIT of working, during urgent projects, important deadlines, critically busy times and intense survival mode, there is no balance. My habit thus creates their habit of doing their own thing in absence of our interaction. This has been a vicious cycle in my life and one that has interfered with a healthy balance for us all. 

I will share with you a very recent experience to illustrate how easy it is to fall into a bad habit without realizing and the moment when you get that startling wake-up call. As a single mom and entrepreneur in survival mode, work days are long and hard. I find the long work hours easy to justify in order to give my children all that I can, despite the sacrifices. I convince myself I am doing the right thing. As the cuddle time and the hugs goodbye and the hugs hello slowly disappear with a little sting, but not really much notice, I still say I do what I have to do. It is not the love that is disappearing, but the “lovely” habits. Slowly we fall into the routine of me working and them doing their thing. Every once in a while moments pass where I wonder if they need me less or love me less. Feels that way but we make the habit stronger. 

I recently decided to take a walk with Jake, my youngest. It was a little brisk and my phone battery succumbed to the cold temperature. He had my undivided attention for hours! The first time in a long time. What a walk (adventure) it was! We came home, made dinner together and the hugs and cuddles resurfaced. By bed time, he was his old silly, funny self and completely in love with his mommy again! I thought to myself, “What has gotten into him today?” I continued to think about this as I held him in my arms while he fell asleep. And yet again, that vicious cycle was staring me in the face. You may be thinking as you read that this is very obvious, but I lost my perspective. I fell back into that bad habit and like carbon monoxide….it was there even though neither of us felt it, saw it, smelled it or tasted it! I am now in the process of getting that “detector” installed in my heart and my brain! Should you?

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