My husband and I have been together for twenty two years and married for seventeen of those. In that time a lot of good things have happened, but we’ve also accumulated a lot of baggage. Yes, in one way I do mean physical baggage, because we have more stuff in our house than is healthy – but that’s a whole other month’s worth of work. More fundamental to that, we’ve collected a set of behaviours and attitudes along the way that mean we’ve gradually worked ourselves into a rut. We always do it this way… We always go here… We always eat this… We always sit here… You know how it is. It’s most unconsciously done, but before you know it, your habits have created two solid walls either side of you and the exit is a six foot-long box at the end.
We don’t want that.
So, for the next 28 days, Simon and I are going to work on something together (not something we usually do) and we’re going to be focussing on doing something different.
We’re not going to be doing this at random, we’re going to be working through a book and through this blog we’re going to keep ourselves accountable to you. Can we do it? That, right there will be a major achievement in itself, because we’re not all that good at seeing things through to the end. We’re good at starting stuff, but not finishing it. We’re good at identifying what we want to get rid of, but we’re not good at getting it to leave the house. We’re good at daydreaming, but we’re not very good at turning those dreams into reality. We’ve become slightly fearful, we’ve allowed our shyness to get the better of us and both of us have things we run away from. Well, it’s time to stop running and to turn and face some of those big scary things and big scary people. Maybe they will be BIG SCARY THINGS, maybe the people will SHOUT, in which case there may be tears. But I think it’s highly unlikely that any physical harm will come to us in the next 28 days. The only thing that’s going to be uncomfortable is the unfamiliar sensation of doing something different.
So this is what we’re doing. We’re following this book. The No Diet, Diet. It isn’t to specifically focus on the diet aspect of it, but it’s because these people at the University of Hertfordshire are in the business of helping people to break down the habit webs that form. From their research they have discovered that the happiest, most productive and slimmest people are those who, by and large, do not have these ingrained patterns of attitude or behaviour, but who retain a high degree of flexibility. Our lives aren’t particularly bad, but we know ourselves that it’s become a case of the same old same old and it’s getting boring. One thing we don’t want to happen, is to wind up becoming a couple of middle-aged stick-in-the-muds, which is where we’re both heading at the moment. We used to be spontaneous, back before going out anywhere with a small child required the logistics of the British Army. Small child is now taller than me, but that negative attitude about going anywhere on the spur of the moment has persisted. ‘It’s too much effort…’ Not it’s not, it’s just learned behaviour, it’s just a habit I’ve fallen into. I always go to Milton Keynes because I know Milton Keynes. It’s familiar, I know my way around, I know where I can park. I never go to Luton, or Stevenage, or Hitchin, or Bedford for that matter; because going there would require me to drive to a town and not know where to park. How much money will I need for the car parks? Where are the shops? I don’t know where anything is, I don’t know what’s there. The more I see it written down the more I see how laughable it is, but in my head these fears are very real and they are for Simon too. He won’t mind me sharing with you that he struggles in social situations. Well, he might, but… Why is that? Why does an intelligent, lovely person such as him struggle to meet new people, or to be in a group of more than six? It’s a big old habitweb that he’s allowed to form because he’s given in and fallen back time and again.
So this is us, being brave, and turning to face our big old spider’s web of habits and behaviours and having a month of doing something different.
The No Diet, Diet starts small. It’s not about going in at the top, it’s about making gradual changes to challenge the way we do things and how we think.
Day 1: For Simon he’s not going to watch TV all day. For me, I’m not going to listen to music all day. Simon will come home and slump in a chair and switch the TV on. I always listen to my iPod, so to go without music for an entire day will be a challenge.
As we go through the next 27 days, I’ll post at intervals and let you know how we’re getting on. Hopefully by doing this we can remain accountable and finish something once in our lives.