How One Small Bad Habit Can Derail Everything

Time and time again, I get reminded just how important routine is to establishing habits and getting things done.

As I ponder this, I also notice how one small bad habit can quickly grow into something bigger, setting off a number of new bad habits. Slowly, good habits you’ve worked hard to establish start to unravel too.

For the last few weeks I have slipped into a bad habit of going to bed late. I usually go to bed at 10PM and wake at 6AM. However, recently I stayed up until 1.00AM to watch the first England World Cup game.

This slowly snowballed into staying up late to watch the football every evening.

This caused me to be more tired in the mornings and I started to get up later than usual. First 7.00AM, then 7.30AM – to eventually 9.00AM.

This slowly started to eat into my morning routine. Soon, I was skipping it altogether.

Now, getting up later and skipping a morning routine might not seem too bad, but for me it is a big deal. It kinda holds everything together for me and influences the rest of the day in a big way.

Getting up early gives me a few hours each day purely to myself. This makes an incredible difference to how I am as a person every day.

I use those few hours to do a number of things. I meditate. I read. I write. I plan the day. Sometimes I throw in some exercise too.

So, what happens when I get up late and skip my morning routine?

You guessed it. I start to fall out of the habits of meditating, reading, writing and planning my day. I go from doing these things every day – to every three or four days at best.

At a glance, this might not seem disastrous, but these things actually have a big influence on how I feel and what I get done.

When I meditate in the morning, I am calmer, more mindful and clearer with my thoughts. I’m a nicer person to be around too. When I read and write in the morning, I spend more time thinking and realising things. When I plan my day in the morning, I am more focused and tend to do fewer and more important things.

So, you can see how one small bad habit, spiralled into many other bad habits and totally did away with four good habits I’d worked hard to establish – in a matter of weeks. It also started to mess with my mood and emotional state.

Getting back on track

For the last few days I have been going to bed before 11PM and getting up at 7.00AM. I’ve been getting back to a simple morning routine of meditating, reading, writing and planning my day.

I feel like a different person and the habits are coming back to me. My days are significantly different as a result.

Whilst it’s annoying to fall out of things you know are good for you, I just see it as something to notice and learn from now. I expect it’s not the first or the last time I will derail, notice and have to get back on track.

What can I learn from the above?

Well, firstly, to try and be more aware of things which have the potential to trigger other things I don’t want. It’s not to say that I won’t do them, I’ll just be more aware of what could happen and think ahead. For example, I could have ensured I had an early night the following night to compensate. If I had of actually done that, I probably would have stayed in my rhythm of going to bed and rising early.

Also, if I do start to derail, I want to notice more quickly and take immediate action. I could have pulled myself out of the cycle of staying up late to watch games I wasn’t that bothered about within a few days, rather than let it last for a couple of weeks.

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