Habits and apps are like the green eggs and ham of my Seussical life. I need them in the house, on the couch, in the hall, and on a call. My mobile phone is always in my hand. It is a habit I hate but currently need it to keep track of all the things.
Habits are formed by repeatedly doing the same thing after a specific contextual cue. We become unaware of the cues as the habits become second nature.
For example, I started smoking my first year of teaching in the Bronx. The three blocks from the school to the subway were always filled with interesting characters and situations I did not want to be a part of, so I got into the habit of smoking a cigarette and listening to music when I am walking. I had many brilliant lesson ideas on those walks. My brain was free to think about my classes, and not tripping over the process of taking out a cigarette, finding the lighter, and so. Now, I almost instinctively reach for a cigarette when I start to walk.
I chuckle when I hear people say they are unable to be consistent about habits that will improve their lives. We develop habits that hinder the quality of our lives quite easily. I know more people that would rather replace a lung than quit smoking. They’ve decided smoking is a part of their identity. It is a part of how they see themselves, so it’s not going away. No need to quit. Just ride it out until the end.
I’d rather work on quitting smoking. My identity is comprised of so much more.
And here we come to the point. Our habits reveal our character. They are markers of our identity. There is the person we think we are and then there is the person other people experience. We are human. We all have bad habits. We often don’t like being told about our bad habits. Very rarely do we enjoy being told how our bad habits impact other people. We are not bad people. We aren’t. But we all do have bad habits.
We need to confront our bad habits.
Four years ago, almost as soon as I started to get serious about MetaCocoMom, I got stuck. I didn’t have the content to generate a blog. Sure, I had tons of thoughts and ideas. I had things that I wanted to say about what I was experiencing and witnessing in the world. I had encouragement for other mothers and all that. But I didn’t have pictures from my own life. I didn’t have videos. I wasn’t creating enough experiences with my own child to share with other people.
It would have been false, which I actively avoid. I was in a toxic living situation. Navigating domestic and emotional abuse while trying to encourage other black mothers to embrace mindful parenting and respect themselves is false. I wasn’t following my own advice. MetaCocoMom helped me see that. But she also reminded me I had all of the tools I needed for the job.
Lent of 2018, I started changing my habits in earnest. For 40 days and 40 nights, I did not use apps, my debit cards, or order any food. In the Lenten seasons that followed, and as I incorporated those things back into my life, I focused on forming healthy habits. Habits that encouraged behaviors I want my children to emulate. The applications I downloaded to my phone were aimed at that end.
So this week’s Meta-assignment is to develop a mission statement. This is the definitive statement of who you want to be. It is not the time to focus on your shortcomings. We are all so magnificently flawed. This is absolutely the time to hone in on everything you are good at, how do those pieces fit together.
After you’ve written your mission statement, identify the habits you will need to actually be that person consistently. Do you need to wake up earlier? Do you need to exercise? Vocal warm-ups? What habits get you from where you are now to where you want to be tomorrow?
Once you have your habits, you will have a better understanding of the types of applications that will help you achieve success. They differ for every single person. Each of us needs a slightly different push with slightly different pressure to do the things we need to do.