What UP: Habits

habitI do love writing Focus Pocus.  So much.  My sincere hope is that you love reading it.  To do my best to make it of service, I’m asking its readers to guide me to make sure I’m touching on things that are touching you.

This week, I’m curious about habits:

  • What are some habits that you would love to break?
  • What are habits that you would love to form?
  • What stops you from breaking or making a habit?  What is your pattern?  What tends to happen?
  • What has allowed you to break or make a habit in the past?
  • What would be helpful to you in regards to habit making/breaking?

I’m fascinated by this but what I really want to know is what UP with you!  Please respond and connect with me  —  let me know what you think and what you’d like to hear more about.  PLEASE do respond in the comment section below or feel free to email me directly at sjmnia@yahoo.com!  (And thank you SO much to all of those who responded last week!  I’m noodling on your questions!)  I can’t wait to hear from you.

Dance on, my friends,


  1. Susan, I read your blog but always lurk : ) Since you asked, I would like to break some of technology habits. Particularly the habit of checking my email approximately 10,000 times each day. I have no idea how to manage this. I feel like I have pretty good self control but not when it comes to this. It may be a mind/body thing because I feel the urge for connection and my finger immediately goes to my phone. The habit seems to be the actual click. I have tried placing the phone far away thinking I’d be too lazy to go get it but I’m not. I’m curious what you learn from this study. Help meeee. xo

    • Also, Melissa, do check out ZenHabits and in particular, his post on email habits. When I write on this, I will definitely refer to his ideas, but I thought this might be helpful in the meantime! http://zenhabits.net/e/

  2. Right on, Melissa. I so get this one. Very similar with me…I appreciate you coming out of lurking to share it. I’ll definitely throw it into the percolating pot!

  3. Blue said:

    Hi Susan,

    I love reading your blog and really appreciate all of the work you put into it! About my habits, mine has to do with poor eating habits sometimes. I am mostly good through the week but then on weekends I tend to let it all hang out and eat more junky things and too much of it. In fact the other day I was even ill because of it. So… this has to stop!! I do a lot of presentations and things and this is how I deal with my anxiety. I would love to find new habits of positive ways to handle anxiety.
    Looking forward to what you and others have to say on the subject.

    Thanks again, Susan for all you do!

  4. Thank you, Blue, for sharing this. I know I struggle with this, too, and it is, as you say, usually more emotional than anything else. I’m wondering if there are ways of tackling all emotionally-based habits to “rewire” our thinking and behavior. In the meantime, be kind to yourself. xoxo

  5. Habit I would love to form: putting away my clothes each evening and keeping the area around where I sleep neat. I don’t know why I dump and run and put off managing my clothes until the weekend, when I would ENJOY the serenity of a neat area. I think it would help me sleep and help me wake without rolling my eyes. Ideas?

  6. It’s funny, isn’t it? When there is something we do (or don’t do) that, on some level, we KNOW would feel good/better about. And we don’t do it. I think there are ways of looking at any number of habits to make/break that can help us feel the benefit and therefore continue. More soon! xo

  7. Echoing Melissa’s comment above, I have fallen into a bad habit of checking my smartphone incessantly for new email, new tweets, and updated Facebook statuses. I have become uncharacteristically late to work these days simply because I feel the need to stand at my kitchen counter over my cup of coffee and scroll through meaningless Facebook posts, hoping to find something new. I check it A LOT while driving too, which I know is risky and stupid. (I don’t text, however, when driving.) Sometimes I even stay at work later just to hang around on the computer and “catch up” on all this social media, even when there really isn’t anything fresh coming in. UGH. I know better, but I keep doing it!

  8. UGH, indeed. And I feel your pain. Our habits can get us stuck in ruts that keep us doing things that don’t serve us and don’t feel good. I will address the issue of habits in upcoming posts, but in the meantime, check out Leo Babuta’s zenhabits http://zenhabits.net/archives/ in the past month he has written specifically about how to get off the Facebook/email habit. And habits that help make/break habits. I’ll undoubtedly refer to his ideas in my own writing about it, but I feel your pain and wanted to offer this resource right away!

  9. Pam said:

    I find it extremely hard to break habits. I’ve found that it takes a lot of effort, with “eyes on the prize,” so to say, because it’s so much easier to fall into familiar patterns. I find the “Autobiography in Five Chapters” from Sogyal Rinpoche’s Tibetan Book of Living and Dying to be very inspirational, though, and wished I took it to heart more often:
    Autobiography in Five Chapters:

    I walk down the street,
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I fall in.
    I am lost . . . I am hopeless.
    It isn’t my fault.
    It takes forever to find a way out.

    I walk down the same street,
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I pretend I don’t see it.
    I fall in again.
    I can’t believe I’m in the same place.
    But it isn’t my fault.
    It still takes a long time to get out.

    I walk down the same street,
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I see it is there.
    I still fall in . . . it’s a habit.
    My eyes are open.
    I know where I am.
    It is my fault.
    I get out immediately.

    I walk down the same street,
    There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I walk around it.

    I walk down another street.

    • Oh how I love this poem and yes, it absolutely takes an investment of time and energy to walk down another street. One thing to remember is that our habits do serve us (or did serve us) in some way. Part of what helps me break habits is understanding what purpose (real or imagined) our habits serve and see how else those purposes can be met. What’s interesting is to see way of interrupting our old patterns no matter what the habit in question might be. I’m definitely noodling away over here. Thank you for reminding me of this wonderful piece. xo S

  10. Pam said:

    Yes, right on with the understanding what purpose our habits serve.

    As I’ve been thinking about my habits over the past couple of days, I have to admit that there’s no habit right now that I’m committed enough to breaking to go through the hard work of walking down another street. There are some things that I think, sometimes, that I’d like to change, but the desire is not strong enough to make me keep my “eyes on the prize” and commit to changing. I’m not sure if this is laziness or complacency, or if I shouldn’t consider it a problem (maybe a combination?).

    On the other hand, I’m sure that I have many patterns and habits with which I’m still residing in the first two stanzas of the poem. These are the deeply embedded patterns, mainly thought patterns, leading to emotional reactions, that I can’t see my way out of…sometimes the edge of them are reflected to me, especially in the context of my marriage, but I’m too darkly immersed in the hole. Some of these patterns go back so far and they don’t ultimately seem extremely destructive (I’ve led a pretty good life), but they are my habits and patterns and I know that I will never really be free as long as I’m beholden to them. And the comfort of familiarity and my sense of “me” seems apt to keep me from, again, not doing the hard work of changing.

  11. I very much appreciate your insights, Pam. And one question that comes up for me when faced with a habit that we “want” to change, is whose voice is telling us to change it? Is it our own? Or someone else’s? Sometimes, I fund myself saying I really “should” do this or that. Inevitably, that’s somebody else’s voice that I’m listening to. You’re right that breaking habit takes time, energy and commitment. If we want to do it for ourselves, that’s one thing. But if we’re doing it because we think we should, it’s not likely to go very far.

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