Allegedly, it takes twenty-one days of a particular activity to "create a habit."
I like the idea of creating new habits—not necessarily resolving to do anything in the new year. Resolutions feel like a setup for failure. I mean, I'm still waiting to lose those thirty pounds I resolved to lose the last ten or so years ... know what I mean? I thought so. So I've decided to employ five new habits in the new year. Join me if you like; I'm sure you suffer from these "maladies" as well.
1. Embrace imperfection. Not to get all Brené Brown on your ass, but giving myself the gift of imperfection is something I have never considered until I stumbled across Brown's research and writing in a grad class for qualitative research. Something in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are struck a chord with me: "understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it's often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis" (Brown, 2010). Brené are you in my head? I'm gonna try this out for a few days and see if it takes.
2. Fight tired. I feel tired, all of the time. Since I cannot let go of my activities I love so much, I'm going to attempt to employ a few remedies based on Time magazine's ideas for what is draining my energy and attempt to reverse this old lady idea in my brain that I have adopted in the past two or three years. Surprise, surprise: One of the problems on the list is that when you attempt to be "perfect"—something, of course, that is unattainable—you become tired. Thank goodness I am on it already with my No. 1 habit-changer, but I will also make it a point to drink more water, fight the urge to skip my workout when "tired," and not work while I'm on vacation. (While I am writing this blog, I am on vacation—thank goodness this new habit-making doesn't begin until January—I'm already failing—oh god, I'm trying to be perfect—see what happens?!)
3. Teach advocacy. Oftentimes I act as an advocate for young women in the PR profession through my job as professor and as practitioner at 834 Design. I need to develop the habit of teaching others how to advocate for themselves, so as not to continue enabling helplessness in next-gen PR females. I recently read an article in Fast Company that discussed how young female business pros lack the tools in which to negotiate or advocate for themselves. This can end with my generation teaching the next how to advocate not only for their peer group but for themselves as well, to end the phenomenon known as "losing their voice"—something that begins in young women as early as age eight in the classroom. This sentiment continues on into female adult lives and is woefully dangerous and full of other issues that transcend the workplace into the home.
4. Cut off the baddies. I have what seems to be a mile long list of people I don't really like or that don't really add to my life experience, but rather that I seem to simply tolerate and drag along through life as it is the path of least resistance. I'm going to start the process of dropping them like hot potatoes. Elite Daily gave me a great list to consider dumping before the dawn of 2015, and I'm going to use that list to weed out the folks that don't add to my life but rather detract from my happiness. First on my "friend" firing list: "those that just take up space" soon to be followed by "those that make my life more stressful," and then I'll work my way down the list. Sorry, not sorry, if this list includes you; but you had it comin'.
5. Be selfish. To get more done during the day, I need to employ better methods of organization and process management. A few weeks ago I posted on my Facebook timeline an article by Entrepreneur magazine that outlined ways to be more productive, and most of them I was pretty familiar with: list-making, setting a timer, et cetera. But one I never really considered was to limit interruptions. I know this sounds crazy, but I always felt like I didn't have control over interruptions at work; in reality, I absolutely do. I run through my days answering every e-mail, text message, and social-media request immediately, and treating all things with the same sense of urgency that is leading to my future inpatient stay at Pine Rest. I have trained others that they always come first in my day, which leads to me working all night—every night—on my own tasks. Sorry, Charlie: I won't be allowing the use of e-mail as an instant messenger tool. I'm going to retrain myself to be helpful to others on my own terms. My constant availability and instantaneous response time is an unhealthy habit I will squash in 2015. Your lack of planning is no longer my emergency.
Written by Adrienne Wallace, the project/digital director for 834 Design & Marketing, and a contributing writer for West Michigan Woman.