With the new year came new promises: A pact with myself to change a few old habits into better ones. Health, as always, is at the top of my list. Eating better, cleaner, less. Money management is another; making grocery lists and sticking to them, tracking my monthly budget better, and avoiding impulse buys. And of course, there are the (empty) promises to keep the house cleaner and more organized. These are not resolutions, mind you - don't do those. Just gentle suggestions to myself. Habits to break. New tricks for an old dog.
Changing behavior simply requires the replacement of one set of responses, or habits, with another set of responses. Making something habitual, quite honestly, requires repetition. Especially with those things that don't come naturally. Repetition takes deliberateness. Keen, unwavering, kick-your-ass-into-gear deliberateness. Taking my "half-mindless" daily activities and making them more "fully conscious." When I catch myself, remind myself, bite my tongue, push myself to try a bit harder, then I am working on living with a bit more deliberateness. The hope is that one day, everything that feels deliberate will become reflexive.
What is most important to me, however, is not how well I do or don't manage my monthly budget, how much I exercise, or what number I see on the scale. What matters most to me is taking myself off "autopilot" and bringing myself fully present in the day. Present with my kids, with my choices, with the moments that I can not get back. As my husband says so often when appreciating a moment; "I'm taking a picture for my heart." I need to fill my heart's albulm.
So often, I let the gears of the day grind and roll me forward on this conveyor belt, and I sit, half-mindless, following where I am lead. I sail in the direction the wind blows. Life acts, I respond. All the stupid little things that fill my day become more important than the things that actually are. Are doing the dishes and sweeping the floor and returning emails more important than having a Michael Jackson dance party at 2:00pm in Pink's room? I think NOT! Dance party, baby!
With deliberateness, I can take myself off autopilot and I can consciously chose the responses I wish. I can anticipate, adjust, sail in whatever course I wish. Or, I can go in the direction the wind blows me and just take better care to notice the beautiful scenery, the light on the water, the smells in the air as I travel. Spontaneity is not lost in deliberateness. They can coexist. Spontaneity is both a wonderful side effect and deliriously sweet outcome of being totally "present" in life.
I can be more deliberate in what I say and how I say it. In reaching out to a friend or family member. In spending quality time with the girls. In giving daily thanks. Deliberateness creates habitual behaviors and habitual behaviors soon cease to be "behaviors" but simply become woven into who you are.
Next thing you know, deliberateness turns into effortless. Next thing you know, you begin to live the most effortlessly fulfilled life you've ever imagined.
Or, at least, this is my theory. I'll keep ya posted.