Over and over I talk about making changes that stick because it’s something most people want. (During speaking engagements, when I ask if anyone makes New Year’s resolutions, nearly everyone raises their hands.)
My method is one you’ve heard me talk about here many times: take big changes, break them down into small pieces, and work on them one at time until they become a habit.
This method works because once it’s a habit—once it’s become automatic and routine—once you no longer have to think about it—once it no longer taxes your limited supply of willpower—you can add another, and another, and so on. And all the small changes add up to the big changes we want.
Habits are Powerful!
Have you ever pulled out of your street on a Saturday, planning to head to a leisure activity of some sort, whether it be a movie, out to a meal, to the gym, or to visit family or friends, only to realize you turned the wrong way and started automatically heading to work instead?
“Automatically” is a key word here. Habits are things that have become automatic in your life. When you turn towards work—towards your normal routine—you’re not thinking about it.
My Garage/Driveway Habit
We have a two-car garage. Every summer, I leave my car on the driveway and we bring our bicycles up from the basement and keep them on my side of the garage. When the weather becomes unsafe for bike riding (snow and ice season), we move the bicycles back down to the basement, which coincides with the time when it’s helpful for me to keep my car in the garage to minimize having to clean it of snow and ice.
Every year when the spring weather comes and I decide it’s time to start parking the car in the driveway, it takes me a while to stop automatically pulling my car into the garage.
Eight months later, when it’s time to start parking the car in the garage again, it takes me a while to get into the habit of doing it instead of parking on the driveway.
The Changing of the Year Habit
I am sure most of you have the same experience as I do at the start of every year, writing last year’s date on checks and notes for a few weeks (about 21 days!) until you get into the habit of the new year. No suprise!
Understanding the power of habits will help you embrace the way to make changes that stick.
What are some habits you can think of like the driveway habit or the changing of the year habit? Join the conversation with your comments…
All the best,