Drifting. It’s something we all do, I suspect. We start out with plans or goals, and for a while, if we’re very motivated, we implement them. After some time, new habits start to feel kind-of normal, and we think, “This is it. I’m a changed person. Look at what I’m doing these days.” We’ve turned a corner and now we’re unstoppable.
And that’s when it starts to happen: the drift–the sliding, ever so slowly, away from our original intentions.
It may be that we’d committed to eating better, and for a while we do. But then, after a month or so, when we’ve shed a little weight and kale is our friend, we indulge in fries once. Then twice. Then three times a week.
In my case, I’d been waking up well before my kids for several weeks. When my alarm sounded each morning, it felt wonderful, if also a little painful, to know that the sun wouldn’t be up for a while, and that I had loads of time to read, write, and pray.
But then, little by little, I started to shut off my alarm a couple mornings per week. Sleeping in felt wonderful, too. I began to want sleep more than I wanted to observe my morning routine. Before I knew it, I was consistently using all of my reflective, alone time in order to sleep in. This meant that I tried to grab that time during other windows in the day when it was much harder to protect. I grew grumpy, as if this predicament were my kids’ fault (it wasn’t).
Furthermore, even with the extra sleep, I didn’t feel more rested. I felt irritable. I knew I needed to revisit my original goal.
These days, I’m waking up early again, and it feels great, just like it used to. I’m reminded why I made this decision in the first place. Instead of beating myself up about my previous drifting, I’m simply savoring the return to this happier (more disciplined) state. My hope is that, if I pay attention to how good it feels to wake up early, the next time I’m tempted to drift, I’ll remember why I chose to do it in the first place.
Because, in the end, joy and contentment are better motivators than guilt and fear.