Here are some things that I’ve tried and failed:
1. Eating less dairy
2. Going completely screenless after 6 pm
3. Not checking my email till noon
4. Eating every meal at my dining room table, with a placemat and napkin – never, ever in front of my laptop, scanning Facebook as I eat popcorn with a spoon
…. and about a million other things.
I’ve read articles and studies that support these lifestyle changes and whenever I do these things I feel amazing. I feel like a brighter, shinier, more centered version of myself.
Which you’d think would be enough, right?
But inevitably, something will happen – I’ll travel and fall out of my routine, I’ll have a week of early meetings that require 7 am email checking – and allofasudden I’ve fallen back into my cheese-scarfing, screen-staring, Twitter-refreshing rut.
This will trigger a lot of internal eye rolling and some mild self-flagellation. I’ll huff around my apartment muttering “Get it together, Von Bargen!” More than once I’ve referenced my own blog post How To Restart A Bad/Annoying/Unproductive Day and I regularly wonder “Is it easier for everyone else? Am I fated to spend the rest of my life falling off the wagon and clawing my way back on?”
I brought this question to my friends Katie and Jina and, oracle-like, they gave me this piece of tattoo-worthy wisdom:
“Give yourself permission to be a work in progress. But then actually do the work.”
Don’t you want to write that inside your eyelids? Or at the very least frame and hang it next to your bathroom mirror?
None of us will be perfect 100% of the time – and we shouldn’t expect ourselves to be. It’s not kind, realistic, sustainable, or particularly interesting. But it’s called a work in progress, not a make-a-list-you-then-ignore in progress or a give-up-after-one-try in progress.
What does that work look like?
For me, that work looks like following more vegan food blogs and trying some of the dairy substitutes at my co-op. It looks like using Cold Turkey to block myself from email and social media till noon or taking my laptop somewhere that doesn’t have wi-fi. It looks like actually turning off my laptop at 6 pm and closing the door to my office.
Will these measures make me a flawless human who never eats a whole wedge of Parmesan in one sitting or falls down a Broad City hole?
No. And frankly, I’m not interested in perfection and I’m certainly not interested in a life that doesn’t include cheese curds or the occasional Hulu marathon.
But I’m ready for a bit more progress in my work in progress.
Do you struggle to stick with habits you know are good for you? How do you stay on track? Do you have a mantra that helps? Tell me all about it in the comments!