It is a long and winding road as a recovering workaholic. The path isn’t always linear. Good habits don’t always stick 24-7. When stress starts seeping in as you prep for trial, a case becomes difficult, or your meetings with others end with more discord than inspiration, chinks begin to wear at the armor you built for yourself along the way.
What do I mean?
I recently fell into some old bad habits (again). I assumed it was only for a few days, but when I cracked open my 5 Minute Journal this morning, I saw that 10 days had gone by since I made an entry. I thought it was only 5 or so. How the heck did that happen?
For the last few weeks, I haven’t been living by my “creed,” which is
1) no social media before I get out of bed;
2) journal first before everything else; and
3) absolutely no looking at work emails until after I accomplish all of my me time (journal, coffee, read, sweat). This one is a BIGGIE!
What woke me up and drove me to journal this morning?
What made me check myself and get back on the good habit train?
I have been a YELLING MOMMY this past week.
If you have ever heard me speak, you’ve heard me tell the stories of me being a “yelling mommy” and of the times I caught myself yelling so awfully that both my kids and I fell into a puddle of tears. I have shared with you that the number one elixir for this is when I set an affirmation for the day in my journal and write out, “I am not a yelling mommy.” That I did this for days on end until it became true.
I thought I had mastered both habits: journaling and no more yelling.
But as I said, habits and the road to recovery from bad habits can feel like a long and winding road.
Well, we all fall on our faces sometimes. Especially when things are more “hard.”
The hard for me this summer? Where did I slip up?
Even though I am in the process of removing litigation from my life as a family law attorney and in the process of “crowding out” the litigation with life coaching and mediation, it is indeed a process. It is nowhere close to an overnight exercise. Even though the finish line is clearly in sight (all of my contested trials should finish up next month (unless I get bit by the dreaded standby), I am in the THICK of the ick of “litigation” and living through all of the reasons why I am giving it up.
The Ick: Catty remarks volleyed in emails meant to drive you bananas. The inefficiency. The need to fight. The condescension. The ill-will. The inability to remove yourself from your thought process for one moment and consider the person’s perspective on the “other side.” The need to be RIGHT at all costs.
Like a dry sponge, I began to absorb the ick. Without the protection of journaling or setting an affirmation, I became porous and soaked up so much that I began to become all of the ick. I absorbed so much that I started dripping it everywhere at home. Writing that out – writing out each piece that has been frustrating these last two weeks – I see it – AH HA! My parenting has taken on ALL of those attributes.
I have been committed to being right. I have been condescending to my kids. I have been angry. I have yelled. I have had difficulty calling a time out and taking a minute to retreat and gather my thoughts to stop the madness.
Again, I am reminded that when I first pick up my journal and fill my brain with gratitude, affirmation, intentions, and education, I soak all of that in, become less porous to the ICK, and exude the person I want to be that day. I.E., not a yelling mommy.
I am writing this post to share with you the truth about habit formation. It isn’t always linear. It isn’t always perfect. Sometimes you fall back into a no-good place.
But here is the GOOD NEWS. This “bad habit” streak was 10 days. In the grand scheme of things, that is not so bad. I am trending in the right direction. Gathering all of my journals, I note these other gaps:
October 25, 2020 – December 24, 2020 = 60 days
March 30, 2021 – May 5, 2021 = 30 days
August 27, 2021 – October 12, 2021 = 46 days
February 22, 2022 – March 19, 2022 = 25 days
March 22, 2022 – May 3, 2022 = 42 days
July 13, 2022 – July 23, 2022 (today) = 10 days
Interesting trend, right? Sure there are gaps (a long one followed by a short one) . . . but the gaps are trending shorter and shorter).
(Side Note: Is it ironic that Ed Sheeran’s song, “Bad Habits” is playing as I type this out?)
Here is the truth about habit formation. It isn’t linear. It isn’t perfect. You WILL fall back in a place that is no good for you. The trick is recognizing it faster and faster, pulling yourself out, and returning to business.
I have pulled myself out before. I have written about this before. I am almost sure a gap will happen again, but it will be for less time – the evidence from my past proves that.
What can you do today to get back on track? I ask you – what bad habit has crept back up for you? Conversely, what good practice have you let go?
For me? My August forecast is a litigation doozy. (Again, my February 2022 blog post is on point here). I cannot go through August as a dry sponge. I cannot let myself absorb the negativity I know will be thrown my way. I cannot soak in all of the ICK and drip it all over my kids. That is not ok. My best protection? Journal first. Set my intention. Fill myself with creativity, inspiration, and fortitude for being the best human I can be – in and out of the courtroom because guess what? My clients, opposing counsel, and the judicial officers will feel THAT too.
If I don’t engage in the ICK . . .
If I can model the behavior, I find becoming in attorneys . . .
If I can become a better listener and problem-solver . . .
If I can deliver something insightful rather than ICK . . .
Then perhaps I can fill someone else’s sponge with the things they are missing.
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Such great insights and advice!