Time passes slowly when learning new habits

Afterthoughts: Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I left school, but it hasn’t left me

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Over the course of the lockdown period, I have been trying to build new habits. Newly equipped with a strategy and the tactics to do so after reading Atomic Habits, I set out to build the following habits: journalling, writing, reading, and reflecting. I have written exhaustively on my experience with respect to each of those endeavours, but what I overlooked until coming across the tweet above was how my perception of time changed rather drastically during the experience.

I started all four with the span of a few days and I found time slowed down rather considerably. The space in my head were occupied with a mix of anxiety and self-pressure to complete what I set out to do each day. Each practice had specific goals, for example: a minimum for journalling and writing, a minimum duration for reading, and 8 prompts to answer for a reflection.

I think what made the time stretch during this period was the fact that each of these were new and novel activities for me. New in the sense that I had never journaled before, never written OR read for pleasure, or completed a written reflection. Another element of novelty presented itself.

There was a singular moment when I realised my mind wasn’t labouring over these habits. When I finish writing my article, I publish it to this blog. As I add a new post on WordPress, it tells you how many existing posts there are in the database. I remember that I would see these slowly rising by the day. 1 to 2 to 3 to … 20. Next thing you know, the one my brain noticed after 20 was 26. The five days in between adding those posts ceased to exist. It wasn’t that I didn’t see the post numbers tick up each day, it mean’t my brain didn’t feel the need to remember it.

It feels like I’ve hacked life. Right now, I’m on 60-something posts, but I honestly could not care less about the number. The practice of writing the article has become such a part of my day and routine that time has loosened it’s grip.

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