New Habit, New Year
Today the new day of the new year on the cusp of a new decade is a good day for reflection. It is hard to put in practice all the goals and dreams we say year in year out we will accomplish. It is difficult to change. But change is just a matter of habit. As Aristotle has said, “Excellence is a habit” or “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Success is a matter of practice and discipline; it would be wise then to actually scheme out the nuts and bolts of satisfying the resolution list.
For me it is mostly about carving out time and sticking to it.
I know who I am. I know what I want to do and be—to live authentically, to manifest what is naturally within me. Sometimes the metamorphosis for self and life does not occur magically with the whump of the wand of the fairy godmother but with the actually sticking to a schedule. Consistency and habit do more for transformation than visualization. So I suggest for this year, instead of making a list of resolutions, we make an action step for changes.
For this year I am sticking to simple schedule tricks—
after my day job, I will commit to at least 2-3 hours of practice of my art, my writing, my creativity, my artepreneurship. I will schedule at least three times per week for dance or workouts. I will schedule the third weekend of every month for quiet contemplation in the country at a spiritual retreat. I will make an effort to network and connect to others by being “out there.”
I will practice mindfulness with regards to my reactions to others. I will think before I grab food to stuff my soul with. I will before every meal breathe deeply for one minute and say a prayer of thanksgiving.
I will doggedly declutter and stick to the maxim—one thing in, two old things out.
I will monitor my thoughts so I do not get overwhelmed and morose. I will not let a day go by without laughing from somewhere deep in my belly.
Every day I will make sure to breathe deep and thank God for the chance to relish the sun.
Of course, old habits die hard. You will slip up, I will forget. Researchers say for a new habit to become entrenched it can take from two weeks to a year. On average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact. And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances. Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, published a study in the European Journal of Social Psychology, that posited it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit.
In other words, if you want to set your expectations appropriately, the truth is that it will probably take you anywhere from two months to eight months to build a new behavior into your life — not 21 days.
Interestingly, the researchers also found that “missing one opportunity to perform the behavior did not materially affect the habit formation process.” In other words, it doesn’t matter if you mess up every now and then. Building better habits is not an all-or-nothing process.
Remember, habits take a while to form. Give yourself a break and keep it up.
Happy New Year! Happy New Decade! Happy Habits!