Goals vs. Habits, Part 1

So here’s the thing: when I really put my mind to it, I can accomplish any goal I damn well please. If I am determined enough, I am fucking ACE at reaching goals. And I’ll reach them faster and better than anyone else, because I don’t have the patience to wait around: I’m all about instant gratification and WINNING.

Go back and read those three sentences again. Now you know why I struggled with an eating disorder in college. Over the last 10 years or so, I would set a weight-loss goal, and about 3 weeks in I would suddenly realize that I was coming totally unglued. So I would stop acting like a crazy person. And then I would stop losing weight at the rate of 3 or 4 pounds a week. And THEN I would feel like a failure (even if I was still losing a little bit) and binge. I’d continue bingeing off and on for a couple of months, until I was heavier than I’d been when I started, at which point I would decide that THIS WAS IT. That weight was COMING OFF. And the cycle would repeat, and every time I’d end up a little bit heavier. After a while, I just felt like a failure all the time, because I couldn’t even lose weight anymore, and I’d been SO GOOD AT IT IN COLLEGE. I knew rationally that I was SICK in college, but emotionally I just didn’t get it: I just wanted to be thin again. Fortunately I didn’t want to be thin and SICK though, so I’ve just been heavy for a while now.

But every New Year rolls around and I hear the siren call of “we are not a diet” Weight Watchers (::::snort:::: yeah RIGHT – “not a diet” my ASS) and that perfectionist part of me pricks up its ears in the hope that THIS year I’ll get to be thin, and fuck being healthy. So I’m always pretty leery about making resolutions and setting goals.

A while back I found the Flylady site for housecleaning (this is not a tangent, I swear), and although she is way more politically conservative than I am, I figured, screw it, my house is always a wreck, maybe I should try something different (I just ignore the “we keep our houses clean for our husbands” angle). Her whole theory is that the reason our houses are chaotic is because we always feel like, “If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.” Or rather, wait until you have TIME to do it RIGHT. Ahem. Guilty as charged. But she’s big on the idea that you’re not “behind” in your work, and that your house didn’t get dirty overnight and it won’t get clean overnight, either. You have to build new HABITS. So I started doing that. And now when I get home from work, I throw a load of laundry in. Just one. A couple of mornings a week, before I race out the door, I swish out the bathroom: nothing major, just a quick sink wipe-down, and a quick toilet brushing. Takes 2 minutes – I timed it. Now when I look around my apartment, it’s NEVER dirty. It’s always peaceful. I like coming home. And I REALLY like not spending 3 hours every Saturday morning doing major cleaning – I’ve already done it in little bits all week. I might have to spend 10 minutes running the vacuum, but that’s about it. Somewhere along the way, I became a clean person. Me, who always had piles and piles of laundry, and things growing in the bathroom because OMG I DIDN’T HAVE TIME TO CLEAN PROPERLY. Little changes, little habits. And they all added up.

Bet you know where I’m going with this, huh? 😉 I’m going to break this into two posts here.

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