Abiding Your Triggers

The word trigger gets used a while lot today, and I’m not using it in relation to mental health today. I’m talking about ant act or item that sets off a series of events. This event for me is writing.

Yesterday wasn’t a very productive day for me, and it really should have been.

Because I have a demanding day job and I try to keep my work and home life separate, mostly due to working from home and the ease by which I can “just check an email” for work late at night, I have things here in my office pretty well separated.

I’m usually off by 3pm for work, having just come off a 9-hour shift you wouldn’t think it’s the best time of the day to write, but I’ve tried later in the evening, I’ve tried late at night, and I’ve tried waking up earlier. None of them work as well as 3pm unfortunately.

So at three, I have a ritual, the trigger of which is a calendar event dinging in my face to start writing. Well, I was’t really feeling it yesterday, and I had stupidly told myself that “I just needed to take a break” before starting writing. Instead of brewing a nice hot cup of coffee and sitting down for 10 minutes of mindfulness before writing, I grabbed the iPad, headed to my bedroom, and ended up throwing away a couple hours on dumb games, youtube, and web surfing.

Part of the delay wasn’t entirely my fault, as my wife needed my input on a few things, but really I can’t blame her. Had I just got my writing done from 3-4 her questions from 4-5 wouldn’t have been an issue. So around five I finally realized I needed to get back downstairs and get my writing done.

Only I have a rule of no coffee after 4, because it messes with my sleep schedule. No coffee means the habitualized triggers that normally lull me into a state of flow for writing wasn’t there. Because I had a meeting at 6:30 I also had a time crunch, so I skipped my mindfulness practice, something that I use to blank my mind and create a mental separation between the stresses of the day job and the flow state I need to be in to get my words down each night.

The writing suffered. I barely got my minimum 1300 words, and quite frankly, I think I will rewrite the entire scene today because it was just words I spewed out instead of crafting and flowing onto the page.

I spent the last two + months forcing myself to write every day so that I could develop the good habit, and what do I do? I don’t abide the triggers that ensured I continued to follow my good habits, thus making it easier for me to fall away back into old habits.

No one said that a habit was a panacea, however. It does make you more likely to succeed, and as much as I’m irritated with my actions from yesterday, I did get my word count in, and that was the main goal.

Onward and upward.

Till tomorrow,

Tom

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