Lifestyle, Writing

The 80/20 balance lie

If I workout 6 days a week, I’ll get stronger.

If I work 5 days a week, I’ll be able to pay the bills and maybe even get a promotion.

If I write 5 days a week, I deserve to rest over the weekend and still get my book ready for a publisher soon.

If I eat healthy all week, I can splurge and have a few drinks this weekend.

The weekend starts on Friday, even when I have to work on Saturday. Sometimes the weekend starts on Thursday. Some weekends leak into Monday.

I realized that 80% of the time, there is always something waiting to bust your good habits.

There will always be tempting junk food nearby, the urge to sleep in, or the difficulty to focus at work.

And 20% of the time, there is fervor for a habit. Those days that are perfect for kale salads followed by long, intense workouts and a full 8-12 hours of focus at work before getting a full 8-hour night’s rest.

The 20% isn’t reality because it’s not sustainable, at least not for most people.

There is no such thing as balance. There’s just me trying to do my best and you trying to do yours.

My best and your best are different, and that’s okay. I know some people who really do eat healthy, workout, and crush it at work all the time. And while I’ve developed some healthy habits over the past few years, I’ve also learned to get rid of the perfectionist mindset so I can instead improve bit by bit every day.

I’ve recently downloaded the HabitBull habit tracking app to my phone. I track:

  1. Reading
  2. Workouts
  3. Quality time with my husband
  4. Eating healthy
  5. Writing or editing

Everything I track is set to “yes” or “no” for that day. Did I eat healthy today? Well, I ate a brownie at work, so no. Even if the rest of my day was impeccable.

I know. It’s tough.

But after nearly two months of tracking these habits, I learned two things about myself:

  1. I’m really good at reading every day, even if it’s just 10 minutes before bed or listening to a chapter in the car on my way to work. Physical books and audiobooks count. Woohoo!
  2. I suck at doing anything if I don’t try to do it every day.

I stopped scheduling a rest day for my workouts because sometimes I just want to sleep in on a Thursday while most Thursdays are awesome.

I stopped planning my splurge meal for the weekend because sometimes my splurge meal is on a Tuesday. And some weeks I have multiple splurge meals while other weeks I have a small dessert once.

I stopped scheduling long work days for myself. And if it’s unavoidable, I take more short breaks surrounded by more focused work time. Why? Because 12 straight hours of hardcore work is not sustainable. What is sustainable? Work 3-4 straight hours and then have a snack or 15-minute break. Breaks are so important, even if they are short.

I’ve learned to embrace spontaneity once in a while because the rigid 80/20 mindset I previously had was just as mentally unhealthy as downing a dozen donuts on the daily. I’ve also learned that tracking habits is important to monitor progress and see how far I’ve come.

Self improvement isn’t about perfection or maintaining numbers. It’s about creating habits for overall success.

Challenge: What habit have you been working on building? Is it in your writing or in another aspect of your life? What 80/20 mindset do you have about that habit? Break it.

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