Practice makes perfect. What have you been practicing? What are some of things you practice every day that have become habits? Do you pile papers to file later? Do you leave your cloth bags in the car when you grocery shop? Do you push snooze when you should get up but you go to bed past your bedtime so you’re not rested?
A person who practices filing paperwork every day will never have piles (well the paper kind). A person who always takes cloth bags into the grocery store will never have a huge supply of plastic bags. A person who is strict about going to bed to get the rest needed doesn’t need an alarm to wake up.
We’re really good at routine living. When we don’t like certain results then the routine isn’t serving us. Unless we toss in a decision to change a habit, we’ll continue to get results that don’t make us happy. The good news is, WE CAN CHANGE. Being able to change behavior is a God-given gift. And it’s really not that hard to do, if we make up our minds to it and find ways to make it fun until it becomes a habit.
Let’s say you’ve just learned that pop (in the northwest that’s what we call Coke and root beer) isn’t good for you and you’ve read that it’s addictive and you have an inkling you’re addicted to it. Addiction is the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics and sugar are.
Being enslaved sounds so ominous because it infers you’ve lost your freedom of choice or action. The truth is, we become enslaved by our habits and that’s both good and bad. Good when it’s a good habit and bad when it’s a bad habit.
Baby Steps to Changing a Habit
A really good baby step is one AA uses…one day at a time. So instead of saying, “I’m never going to drink Dr. Pepper again,” say, “Today, I won’t drink Dr. Pepper.” (You could also add to that “…or buy it.” If you don’t buy it, you won’t have it to abuse.
When you start on a plan to break a habit and you only focus on one day at a time, you’ll find that each day it gets easier. That’s because as the days go by you’ll think less and less about its absence and more and more about the new habit you’re establishing. Scientists say that 21 days is the magic number.
On January 8 of this year, Terry and I quit drinking alcohol. We didn’t have a “drinking problem” so the decision didn’t have a lot of momentum behind it other than curiosity. I decided to keep a notebook on my thoughts and right in line with the 21 day theory, my last note was on Monday, January 29 and I wrote: “I really don’t need to write anything. I just don’t have any thoughts on this right now.” And I never wrote in it again.
Today’s as good a time as any to make a decision to start a new habit and do it just for today. Get a little note book and, as the day goes along, write your thoughts down that pertain to the change you’re making. Think of ways to make your new habit fun to keep doing. In the beginning, Nelly (my inner child) wanted me to keep track of each day we didn’t have alcohol by putting a pretty bead into a pill organizer and when a month of beads was collected she wanted them strung and worn on my regular appearance on a local television to show. Whatever works do it.
Today as I write, Terry and I are on 198 days with no alcohol and I probably think about it once every two or three weeks. I haven’t written in my notebook since January 29 and Nelly doesn’t need to get ahead every day. I’ve become enslaved to my new habit of not having alcohol and in that enslavement I’m free of the old habit.
I’d love to hear what new habit you’re going to do just for today. Please email me at email@example.com.
For more from Pam Young go to www.cluborganized.com. You’ll find many musings, videos of Pam in the kitchen preparing delicious meals, videos on how to get organized, lose weight and get your finances in order, all from a reformed SLOB’s point of view. Pam’s books are also available on Amazon.