By Leo Babauta
As perfect as we might think our habit plans are, they will get disrupted.
Last week I had to travel for a few days, and that threw my habit plan off track for a bit. Other disruptions include: sickness, big work projects taking up all your time, family members needing help, really bad weather, natural disasters, visitors, car breaking down, death in the family, and more. Not fun stuff.
We can either take that disruption as a sign to give up, or take it as a sign that we need to adjust. Or sometimes, we can anticipate the disruption and plan to adjust ahead of time.
Next week, weâ€™ll talk more about adjustments made after problems arise. Today, letâ€™s talk about anticipating disruptions and planning ahead to make adjustments.
If you can anticipate a disruption and plan for it ahead of time, thatâ€™s ideal. Itâ€™ll allow you to continue your habit change uninterrupted, rather than having a disruption that stops the habit for a day or a few days. Things donâ€™t always go according to ideals, of course, so expect to have disruptions you canâ€™t anticipate.
What You Can Anticipate
Some disruptions are unexpected: illness, natural disasters, a car breaking down, any kind of crisis, an unexpected visitor or trip.
But others can be anticipated ahead of time:
- Big work or school projects
- Family events
- Parties or other social events
- Weekend plans (if theyâ€™re planned in advance)
- Visitors (usually)
- Upcoming changes to work or school schedules
- Things you need to take family members to (classes, appointments)
- Your own classes or appointments
- Holiday plans
Basically, anything you might put on your calendar. On a related note, if youâ€™re not putting all of this stuff on your calendar, you might think about starting! It helps you get a feel for what you have coming up.
So take a moment to give some thought to what you have coming up in the next week. What might disrupt your routine so that the trigger and habit get disrupted?
The Skill of Anticipating
You should get into the habit of anticipating upcoming disruptions, every week. As you do your habit review, or plan for the coming week, think about what you have coming up.
Then, for each upcoming disruption, figure out a solution. Some possible solutions:
- Send yourself a reminder to set up a physical trigger while traveling (I forgot to do this but then set it up later in my first day of traveling last weekend)
- Get up a little earlier
- Do it in another room if you have visitors
- Do it later in the day
- Just do 20 seconds of the habit
- Take a planned break if needed, with a reminder to start again on a certain date
- Cook ahead of time, for eating habits
Put the anticipated disruption, and its solution, into your plan. But more importantly, create a digital reminder (on your phone, calendar, etc.) so that you’ll be sure to implement the solution.
For example, if you’re traveling, you can create a reminder for the time you plan to arrive at your hotel or relative’s house … and the reminder will be to create your physical reminder for the next morning.
If you remind yourself to create the physical reminder, you won’t miss a day.
Now, as I said, not every disruption will be anticipated, and we’ll forget to anticipate sometimes. But start practicing this anticipation and planning ahead now, and you’ll find it a useful skill to have in your toolbelt as you create habits.
A few quick things today:
- Take a moment to give some thought to what you have coming up in the next week. What might disrupt your routine so that the trigger and habit get disrupted?
- Create reminders so that you can implement solutions for those disruptions.
- Review how you’re doing with the “focus on starting” and “enjoy the habit mindfully” skills this week. Have some questions ready for tomorrow’s webinar (Sat. Dec. 13).