The idea of living a life of habit may sound counter-productive. You’re in the process of breaking out of your cage, leaving behind the daily rut of your existence, and becoming your true self.
And that’s good, but now you will need more than ever to develop productive habits.
Habitualizing a great many aspects your life needs only to be a temporary thing, something you use during your life transition to save your mental energy and your will power.
Let’s say you’ve been working in a furniture store for ten years, and you’ve decided you want to open up your own antiques store. This is a major life shift, a risky (and exciting) investment in your future, and a complete change from your status quo.
Now, let’s say you love to make interesting breakfasts, take trips around the country, and spend days at swap meets.
You know you need to expend your mental energy on your new goal of an antique shop. You’ve got your savings, you’ve done the research, and you’re good to go. There will be challenges, you think, but you’ll just need to “tough it out.”
However, your will power, as we’ve discussed, is a finite resource. There is a limit to how much mental and physical energy you can spare per day. That means even the fun choices, the mental energy you enjoy expending, may need to be temporarily set aside.
Fun breakfasts probably have nothing to do with your new antique store. Traveling may be useful. Swap meets are definitely needed for finding antiques.
Thus, as much as you may enjoy those fun breakfasts, they will need to go on hold. You should probably limit traveling for a time. But now you can use the mental energy you’ve reserved to go to more swap meets.
Now apply this principle to your life in general.
You have the mental energy for x number of decisions per day. The more of your life you make habitual, the more energy you save for other things. This doesn’t mean becoming a robot. It means living faithfully by decisions you have made early in the process.
In the planning stage, you worked out your schedule for exercise. Stick to it and thus eliminate the issue of choice. Make walking from 9–10 a.m. each day automatic, a habit instead of a choice.
Do the same with your mental workout. Prayer or meditation time should be a habit. My reflection time is triggered twice a day: when I sit down at my desk at work and when I go to bed.
Do the same with household chores. If it’s a Sunday afternoon, don’t debate with yourself about whether you really need to scrub the toilet this week. It’s on the list; scrub the toilet.
What else can you make a habit? Personal grooming? Studying? Mowing the lawn? Figure it out and do it as mindlessly as possible. Remember, this is a temporary measure for freeing up the mental and physical energy that you need to apply elsewhere to get what you want.