In order to make changes that stick, I take my big goals and break them down into small pieces. Then I focus on one at a time until it becomes a habit.
The goal of safer driving is a good one, but it’s one of those big, non-specific goals that need to be broken down into small pieces.
It recently occurred to me that I had developed, over many years, the bad habit of not being patient enough to wait behind cars that were making left turns, instead going to their right to get around them. Although that can be safely done, I realized that I was often not doing it in a safe way—doing it too quickly, or through spaces that were quite narrow.
I decided to stop doing that. I don’t mean I can never go around one of those cars again, but by focusing on this behavior, I have increased my awareness—my mindfulness—and the result will be one more step toward that bigger goal—safer driving.
Like most long-time habits, changing it wasn’t easy. But like most long-time habits that I have changed, it went like this:
- I made a decision to make the change.
- My awareness of the habit increased dramatically—in this case, instead of automatically whipping around cars waiting to make a left, I started to notice what I was doing.
- Sometimes I remembered to stop and sometimes I reverted to my old ways, but at all times I noticed what I was doing, rather than acting mindlessly.
- Over approximately 21 days, my awareness had increased to the point where I had developed a new habit—I stop behind cars making a left turn. I patiently wait until they make their turn, or if I see it’s completely safe I can make a conscious choice to go around them.
What are some of the ways you are breaking down your big goals into smaller steps? Join the conversation with your comments…