Tuesday 1 May 2018

The lightbulb moment that changed my actions

As we walk across the oval, kicking wet grass with our shoes, I remember how much I really enjoy walking.

So why can't I get myself organised to walk the dogs every day? I managed it for over a year until I got the flu last September, and I've been failing at it ever since.

I walk in the door, and am greeted by the dogs. They're always there, waiting for pats (and just lately, trying to get outside to the cat.)

I pop on a load of washing, then wander upstairs, sit on the couch and start mindlessly scrolling through Facebook.

Then I remember that wasn't my plan for today, and I spend the rest of the morning in the kitchen, baking.

Madeira cake. Muffins. Biscuits. 

Plenty for the week's lunch boxes.

How have I managed all that baking, but I can't get it together to take the dogs for a walk?


And the reason why.

I walk the kids to school each day because Sophie needed to be dropped off and collected by an adult at the start of the year, and I keep walking because it has become happy making..

When Daisy first arrived to live with us, I walked her every day, twice a day.

But with Gus here, after I was sick it was easy to tell myself that they exercised each other with their rough and tumble play.

And when you don't do a thing for one day, it's easy to not do it the next day, or the day after that.

I had lost the habit because I was sick, and my reason why made it not a priority.

As I ponder these thoughts, I reflect on a conversation just before the school holidays with a friend who was trying to work out how to stay on top of all the household jobs now her husband was working different hours to her.

"Focus on the non-negotiables" I said "those things that have to be done for your family to survive."

And I realise that is exactly what habits are.

The non-negotiable things you need to do every day.

That was the lightbulb moment.

I've been going about my goals and actions all wrong.

I need to build them into habits and non-negotiable actions.

Then I won't be looking for motivation and finding none.

I'll have the discipline to work the habits, and build towards the goal.

At least, that's how it plays out in my head.

So what does that actually look like in real life?

The first goal is to walk the dogs every day.

This is important because it's a chance to teach them to walk nicely.

Walking nicely is important because we have lots of dogs and cats in our neighbourhood that they're not allowed to chase.

The project is to walk the dogs each day. *

The habit is to walk the dogs when I get home from school drop off each morning. **





I think this is the first time in my life I have actually understood goal setting.

Have you got habits to make?
Will you join me to blog every day in May? 

* a project is the action you take to reach the goal.

** I've often heard habits referred to as bookend habits, meaning that one action often leads to the next. It's why smokers are urged not to drink while they are quitting, often alcohol means cigarette time to the brain.


  1. I exercise 6 out of 7 days most weeks. It is just what I do and I do it for my mental and physical health. When I get up early everyday, it is not up for negotiation - it's just what I do. Makes it a little easier when it's really cold.

  2. Great insights, Cate. I like the idea that habits are the non-negotiables. Definitely some good take-aways here x


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