The Hurry Habit: Learn to Say Goodbye to Hurry and Hello to the Now

hurry habit

I was leaving the sauna after enjoying the last sauna of my Christmas sauna package, and I found myself hurrying down the stairs, giving a curt smile and “thanks” to the lovely owner, and whipping around to head out the door. I flung open the door, and the icy winter air took my breath away. In that very moment, I realized that I was rushing FOR NO REASON. I had just left the parasympathetic nervous system-inducing comfort of my cocoon-like sauna pod only to switch on my sympathetic nervous system in my rush to get dressed and leave mere minutes later. I stood frozen on the sidewalk, not due to the sub-32 degree weather but because the hurry habit that I had created and just fully realized in a lightning-bolt moment had me stunned.

I hurry for no reason. I hurry when I don’t need to hurry. I hurry just to hurry. I hurry because it has been a habit. How long has this hurry habit been going on? At first I thought since I had my son and multi-tasking became the norm and my mode of survival, but the foundation for this habit was likely laid down earlier, in college. When I was on my own for the first time in college, I had to be the one to get myself to and from class, the dining hall, the gym, my jobs, the library, etc. As a Type A first-born, I naturally tried to cram as much of those things into my day as possible and do those tasks to perfection, and as such, the hurry habit was born.

But why did this stark realization hit me now? It seemed to come from outer space or beyond. When I thought about it for a moment (still standing on the sidewalk), it made sense. I’ve been meditating regularly and therefore spending more time in the present. I’ve also been studying James Clear’s Atomic Habits like it’s my J-O-B. Mr. Clear presents the information in a succinct and digestible package that makes it easy to apply to real life.

When I applied his laws of forming habits to my hurry habit formed in college, reinforced in my new life as a parent (post-college), and continued out of habit, this is what I found:

Laws of Habit

Law 1: Make it Obvious
College: It was obvious to me that the only way to fit all of those activities into that neat package was to hurry from one task and one location to another. My jam-packed planner didn’t allow for any other way.
Post-college: I continued to try to fit as much into a short time period as possible, ignoring the physics of the matter and the inability (at least as I type these words) to be in two places at one time.

Law 2: Make it Attractive
College: This was an attractive habit because most all of my friends were operating in the same manner. We spend time together on early morning power walks. We spent time studying in our dorm’s lounge well past my current bedtime. We spent weekends cramming as many social and fun activities as time allowed.
Post-college: This was attractive because, like during college, my new-mom friends were feeling just as frazzled juggling full-time plus work and the novelties of new parenthood. We socialized with play dates and kid classes. It felt like the norm.

Law 3: Make it Easy
College: It was easy because it grew from a little habit of picking up an extra shift tutoring at work to taking an extra class and working out everyday. The progression wasn’t noticeable because the tasks were added on one at a time.
Post-college: It was an easy habit to form because, honestly, it seemed like the only option.

Law 4: Make it Satisfying
College: This was a satisfying habit because I was rewarded for it. A 4.0 GPA (this was back in the day when 4.0 was the highest you could get), a fit body, enough income to buy the things that college-aged women buy, etc.
Post-college: This was satisfying because it worked (or so I thought). I didn’t see the expense it was having on me, my body, my mind, and my relationships.

So, now that I understood how this habit formed, how was I going to get out of the hurry habit and into the present? Because meditation was a factor in helping me to recognize the hurry habit, I thought it could help me break that habit if I used it consistently. James Clear has laws for breaking a habit which are the opposite of establishing a habit, but I thought that establishing a new habit of meditation would rewire my brain foregoing the need to focus on breaking the habit. Plus, meditation has many more benefits than not hurrying. Meditation is a rock star at reducing stress, enhancing immunity, increasing productivity, reducing anxiety, improving sleep, slowing aging, reducing pain, and more. When I applied the laws to the new habit of meditating twice daily for 15-minutes, this is what I came up with.

Habit Laws Applied to Creating a Healthy Habit

Law 1: Make it Obvious
I set my alarm 20 minutes earlier in the morning and meditate on the floor, against my bed. I wake up earlier and am ready to go.

Law 2: Make it Attractive
I’ve started talking to my friends more about it and am consulting with a meditation teacher. I even visited a meditation center 15 minutes from my house (the visit had a different purpose, but hey, it worked out). I also found several books on meditation that I keep beside my bed which are encouragement to keep the habit going.

Law 3: Make it Easy
I had been and on-again, off-again meditator, so it wasn’t completely new to me. I added on time from 10 minutes in the morning, and then blocked 15 minutes in my calendar in the afternoon (before picking my son up from school—-that is KEY!!) to sit again.

Law 4: Make it Satisfying
I have accountability because I am posting my 30 days of March meditation on Facebook. Nothing like making it public to keep you going!

I encourage you to take a step back and watch yourself as you move through your day. Like me, do you see yourself hurrying when you don’t need to? Constant hurrying robs you of enjoying the present moment. And it creates and/or sustains the stress response which is not a good idea for a long, healthy, happy life. If you notice this habit and are ready to make a change, jump into my 30-day meditation. Check it out on Facebook HERE. Don’t punish yourself for the hurry habit, just commit to shifting it. Awareness is the first and essential step! And you are not alone. The reason why so many people have a hurry habit is, as described above, it has become the norm, it is rewarded, and everybody’s doing it…until they burn out, that is.

Also, if you think the hurry habit may be contributing to rushed eating and lack of self-care (because it DOES!!), check out my online course called Health Gains Weight Loss Program HERE. My colleague and I walk our participants through the reasons they’ve created habits that aren’t supporting their health and we provide the tools and the coaching to shift them to healthier habits. It’s never too late to change. Really!