Looking back at habit forming

Looking back at habit forming

A year ago we were recently out of lockdown and I was continuing a walk a day to not break the chain. Good habit forming. The chain was well broken after surgery in September but once I got off the crutches I was up for another crack at one a day. So far 141 walks in 2021.

I noticed during the Lockdown in March and April last year that it was possible to form new habits much more quickly than I had thought. Adapting to life mainly at home wasn’t that difficult, in fact I quite enjoyed it and the new routines that went with it. I shouldn’t say this out loud but sometimes I feel like I wouldn’t mind another lockdown to have a break! Not that WFH is a break, but for me it has a sense of calm and I know others who feel the same.

It’s about now a year ago this week, that I thought I should see a physiotherapist, assuming I had a muscle problem. There was a delay until an appointment on 12 June 2020. The date is stuck in my mind and always will be. That’s the day I had a scan and consultations and knew, subject to biopsy and MRI, that I had a soft tissue sarcoma in my leg. Studies in both the US and the UK indicate that the typical time from symptoms to diagnosis is over a year. I feel blessed with the rapid support I got from medical specialists, including the physiotherapist who, without my knowledge, immediately consulted with an specialist before referring me for a scan that day.

So for me it wasn’t just Covid that gave rise to new habits. Cancer did too: I don’t run now. I can’t! I don’t jaywalk – there is no quick sprint available if needed. I don’t use stairs yet, unless I have to although I’m told I should get there. I’m careful with seating and make sure I put my leg up when I can.

Taking these two major events to create positive and lasting personal and professional change has been a source of renewed energy and contentment for me. It’s not that work hasn’t continued to grow in intensity and volume. Or that I am physically where I was before. Covid created professional opportunities and the possibilities of new ways of working.

Cancer created the freedom to get on with many things, reinvigorated healthy habits of exercise, but most importantly, took away things that don’t matter giving space to focus on what matters. A new calm energy.

And in case you don’t have the habit of monitoring days of the year it’s 140. I’m one walk ahead!

Stephen

p.s. I am mindful that disease and cancer in particular can be triggers for many of us, and that not all outcomes are as positive as mine is now.

Day 19

Day 19

It was a day of Nineteens. 19 new or probable infections of COVID-19 on day 19 of the Lockdown. Another death bringing the reported COVID-19 related deaths in New Zealand to 5, although we don’t have any information to know for certain the underlying cause of death in each case, but you could probably guess it wasn’t COVID-19.

It really did feel like Summer was over today. Maximum temperature 19 (really!) and squally winds on the walk. Now the real test of walking and keeping the chain going begins. It’s all well and good to walk when the weather is agreeable, but with daylight saving gone, walking is likely to be in the dark and possibly cold and wet at times. I’m up for it. Just don’t catch a cold – it’s going to be the most unsociable thing you can present with for the foreseeable future. And that’s a good thing. I very much consider that if you’ve got a cold then you STAY HOME! Some good might come from all of this.

It was nice having this long weekend, despite no ability to go away – it was good to have a break from an intensive period at work – made more challenging by working from home so intensely. Colleagues reported they were exhausted at the end of the week. The video conferencing seemed to be the common theme.  At one stage during the weekend I got excited that the end of Lockdown might be in sight, then I felt that I’d miss the new way – it’s added a lot of different energy to work, then this afternoon if felt like a grind again. Tintin in The Crab with the Golden Claws helped. If you’re a scholar of Tintin you’ll know that this is the story where he meets Captain Haddock. Blistering Barnacles!

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For most if us we’re not meeting anyone at the moment and there’s massive uncertainty for some. What does a person on a work visa do, when their job is a risk? How do they repatriate to their home country? Do they want to? How many people are getting laid off right now? It’s pretty grim for many folk and it brings into perspective my reality.

I’m privileged in that it actually hasn’t been too bad for me so far. I’ve been able to try and imbed some new structures in work practices that I’m finding useful. My shiny boots and business clothes – well they’re taking a big break! STAY IN THE WARDROBE! Will we have changed the way we do business permanently? Or will we get back to the norm and wonder why we were being so dramatic over a few weeks of disruption.

We were told today that we’ll get told next Monday – a week away – what the new level and restrictions will be at the conclusion of the 4 weeks. Of course nothing might change, but I think it’s inconceivable on the current trajectory that we stick with the status quo. The economic and social imperatives, when cases are so low and connected deaths limited to the main vulnerable demographic only so far, must move us forward.

Well let’s hope so. When power is held by any one leader, it must only be used to the absolute minimum necessary, regardless of how well intentioned the use of that power is.

Enjoy the short week!

Stephen