Week 5/2023: Atomic habits

Week of 30 January 2023

Putting things in place

I had only two days of work this week before having a week off for the last week of school holidays. It’s weird, knowing that there’s only one more year that January will be school holidays.

Time off has given me a chance to catch up on some stuff as well as spend some time with Kramstable. It’s been great!

Plan on Friday

I had a second go at planning on Friday as suggested in Laura Vanderkam’s Tranquility by Tuesday. I made a few changes to what I did last week that I’ll try out next week. It will be more obvious where things are and aren’t working when I’m back at work.

Despite what Laura says, I don’t think I have to do my work and personal planning at the same time. My work hours are fairly consistent so I know what hours I’ll have free to work on my own projects. Obviously, I still need to do some planning to make sure my work tasks and projects fit within those hours but, unless something unusual happens that changes those hours, it’s all going to be self-contained.

Anyway, this is an experiment in progress.

Tasks for this week

The other things I wanted to do this week were to keep doing my shoulder exercises, to work on the Unravel Your Year workbook, and to finish my travel blog series.

I’m managing to get four of the five shoulder exercises done every day but there’s one I’m struggling to do. I’m also supposed to use a little stress ball thing and dig it into the sore spots. I keep forgetting to do that too.

I am also really bad at reminding myself to not sit down for longer than 30 minutes at a time, especially when I’m concentrating on something.

So they continue to be things to pay attention to. And I have to do them or I’m going to keep hurting myself.

I worked through the last exercises from Unravel Your Year. There’s a section called “Everything is possible”. I imagined I might be sitting in a coffee shop in December looking at this page and thinking about whether I’d got to where I wanted to be.

It’s a bit aspirational and I probably won’t be exactly where I said I’d be but it’s something to aim for.

But it’s also very vague and there’s no plan to actually get there in the workbook, so I had to do that myself. I wrote down some projects and activities I want to do over the year, so when I get to that coffee shop appointment with myself in December 2023, I’ll have a good chance of being closer to the person on that page, rather than be making up excuses as to why I’m not.

Which is what I’ve done in the past.

I finished my travel blog posts too.

Atomic habits

I started re-reading James Clear’s book Atomic Habits earlier in the week.

The cover of the book Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results. An easy and proven way to build good habits and break bad ones.
Atomic Habits

Last year, James sent out an email series that was supposed to help you put the book into action. There were 11 lessons over 30 days and I filed them away in my “to-do later” folder, which actually means “never look at again”.

But I decided I need some help with “habitualising” some of the things I’m struggling to do, particularly my shoulder exercises.  I know people have had success with James’s techniques, so I dug out the emails and made a start. Twelve months after I got them.

The first lesson is based on chapter 2 of the book, which talks about “identity-based habits”, where you focus on who you want to become, not what you want to achieve. So the idea is, I don’t say “I want to fix my shoulder” but rather, “I want to become a person who works on healing my shoulder injury every day”. Then, every day, I do the things I need to do to make that happen.

James says that your identity emerges out of your habits, and the more you do a behaviour or an action, the more it reinforces the idea that you are the type of person who does that behaviour. And the more you reinforce the identity, the more likely you are to repeat the action.

He puts it like this: If you want to write a book, you need to focus on becoming the type of person who writes every day. The focus is always on becoming that person, not on the outcomes you want. Focus on the process and the outcome will happen.

So the lesson from day 1/11: I am a person who works every day to heal my shoulder.

Next week

Next week will be a funny week. I’ll have two more days off before Kramstable heads off to college. Then I’ll be back to work, with (hopefully) a more settled idea of how to organise my weeks.

I’ll keep working through the Atomic Habits material to reinforce my shoulder work. I’ll keep working through my Sydney photos for the photo blog. And I’ll go back to work. [sad face]

Close up of a white agapanthus flower
An agapanthus from my morning photo walk

Week 5 summary

What was the best thing about this week?

Apart from not having to go to work this week, the best thing was hanging out with Kramstable. We watched the movie Legally Blonde, which was cool because he was in his school’s production of the musical last year. It was interesting to see the differences between the movie and the musical, as well as to pick up on little things from the movie that became entire numbers in the musical.

What did I learn this week?

I learned that the place my arm joins my shoulder, and where the movement comes from, is not where I thought, and that I’ve been moving it inefficiently as a result.


What did I notice this week?

Lots of feathers from one of my chickens all over the chicken house and the yard. She’s moulting.

A large Rhode Island Red chicken showing the first signs of moulting
Ursula starting to moult

What I’m reading this week

  • In Sunlight and Shadow: Stories inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper edited by Lawrence Block.
  • Body, Breath and Being by Carolyn Nicholls
  • Tranquility by Tuesday by Laura Vanderkam
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear

Habit tracker

  • Morning ritual (Goal = 7): 6
  • Move (preferably before 3 pm) (Goal = 7): 6
  • Morning writing (Goal = 7): 0
  • The Little Red Writing Book exercises (Goal = 5): 0
  • Listened to writing podcasts (Goal = 2): 0
  • All five physiotherapy exercises (Goal = 7): 1
  • Four exercises (Goal = 7): 7
  • Mental health break outside during my work days in the office (1 day): 1
  • Finish work by 5.30 (Goal = 2): 2
  • Shut my computer down before 9.15 (Goal = 6): 4
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