As I was reading Gretchen Rubin's book "Better Than Before", I kept thinking about habits that I've recently incorporated into my life, as well as habits that I'd like to adopt. There are so many of them, most of which unfortunately fall into the latter category. Over the next few days, I plan to write posts outlining the habits I'd like to have in four different broad categories: home and hobbies, personal, work, and relationships. (Not necessarily in that order or on four consecutive days. I'll pick my topics as the mood hits me.) Because going back to work is going to make habit change challenging, I plan to do a check in on my habits once I'm two weeks in (and finished my first stretch of call as an attending).
In deciding on the habits on which to focus, I'm trying to remember that the end goal isn't to adopt good habits - it's to be happy in both the short and long term. If these habits aren't making me happier, then I can choose to drop them whenever I please. (Isn't being an adult wonderful?)
So here we go with habits in the home and hobbies category. The habits are roughly arranged from what I consider to be least important to most important.
Have two knitting projects on the go at all times:
I started knitting sometime in the last year after being inspired by the many women (and some men!) at my girlfriend's church who knit. Some of them knit during the services, and many more of them knit at social events, and I was always jealous when I watched them work. Since I started knitting, I've knit three infinity scarves (one for myself and two for my nieces), as well as almost one sock and almost one baby sweater.
I love a lot of things about knitting - dreaming about projects and picking out nice yarn, watching a project slowly come together over weeks to months, and having something to distract me when I'm in a boring or awkward social situation. I also like that it's slightly subversive to be a knitting physician. Physicians are supposed to be constantly rushing and stressed and short on time, so I love the idea of doing something that is intentionally slow.
This is something that will undoubtedly wax and wane depending on how busy I am, but that's okay. Knitting projects can sit idle for a long time and then be picked up when needed. I'm choosing to have two projects going, as it's nice to have something that gives me a bit of a challenge (e.g. a baby sweater) as well as something that is purely mindless and relaxing (e.g. an infinity scarf).
Cook regularly with my girlfriend:
My girlfriend and I both have a huge love of cooking and of trying new foods/recipes, and it's one of the things that brought us together early in our relationship. We've unfortunately fallen out of the habit of cooking together recently, as my girlfriend's job has required her to stay at work until after the supper hour. I think our relationship has suffered as a result of us not cooking and eating together, and it's something I want to work on. Thankfully, starting next month her days will be ending at 5 PM, so hopefully it won't be hard for us to get back into this habit.
Read for pleasure every day:
Have I mentioned recently how much I love books? I love reading once I get into it, but I sometimes avoid it when I'm tired, because checking Facebook/surfing the internet/watching tv seems easier and more relaxing. Which it isn't; reading is definitely more relaxing than any activity involving technology. I want to maintain the habit I've developed this summer of always having a book going and of reading every day.
Keep up with my finances:
I was a bit of a financial disaster during my training. Not only did I not budget, I also did terrible things like file my tax returns late (really, really late) and occasionally miss a credit card payment. I've finally gotten on top of everything financial, including meeting with my financial adviser to figure out my get-out-of-debt-as-soon-as-humanly-possible strategy, and I want to keep it that way. To do this, I plan to deal with financial things (bills, etc.) as soon as they come in, even if that means waiting a day or two to check the mail until I have time to deal with it. I also plan to set aside time on Sunday mornings (while my girlfriend is at church) to quickly review my bank/investment statements and to do anything financial that didn't get done during the week.
Spend time daily and weekly on keeping the apartment clean and organized:
This will be a challenge. A huge challenge. I've done very well this summer at getting the apartment decluttered and organized, and I've managed to adopt the habit of doing annoying little tasks (like unpacking from our weekend camping/wedding adventure) as soon as they come up. The apartment is so much tidier as a result, and it facilitates things like cooking and reading and other fun activities. But doing tasks when they arise isn't my default setting, which means that this will be really hard to maintain once I go back to work. And my girlfriend is much more tolerant of chaos than I am, which will make it hard to get her on board!
My first strategy for achieving this is to set aside dedicated times for cleaning and tidying. On a daily basis, this will mean taking a few minutes when I first arrive home to hang up my jacket/purse and empty out my lunch container, as well as spending some time doing dishes before bed. On a weekly basis, this will mean spending some time every Sunday morning doing laundry and tackling some of the items on my to-do list.
My second strategy is going to have to be talking to my girlfriend. While I've been on holidays, I've assumed the majority of the household responsibilities, and it's gotten stuff done, but it won't be sustainable (or fair) once I go back to work. As difficult as it may be to do, we need to come up with a way of dividing up the household tasks. The big challenge for me will be accepting that we have different ideas of what needs to be done around the apartment; therefore, if I want things done better than she does, I may need to do a bit more of the work.
Hmmm....it seems like I have my work cut out for me. And this is only day one of four!