Make it Easier to Change those HabitsWritten by Lynn Cutts
If you’ve ever tried to change an ingrained habit, or develop a new one, you know that it can be a real struggle, with a lot of self-denial, backsliding, guilt, and frustration. Yet it doesn’t have to be. It’s simply that most people go about changing a habit all wrong. They jump right into it, without any real planning or preparation, hoping to just “gut it out.” As often as not, this approach fails. Here’s why:
1. No focus. Instead of concentrating on one behavior, and working with it until it sticks, many people try to make too big a change all at once. For example, they decide they are going to go on a diet, start exercising and give up smoking all at same time. Trying to do all that becomes overwhelming, exhausting, and confusing. It’s an almost guaranteed road to failure. Instead, focus only on your top priority – say, losing weight. You can get to other changes later when you’ve got first one down.
2. No vision. People don’t have a clear vision of benefits changing this habit will bring them. By not seeing what they are moving towards, it’s impossible to get - and stay - motivated. Before you get started, write down what you want to change, and why. Spend some time seeing yourself after you’ve successfully made that change. Picture yourself twenty-five pounds lighter. What are you wearing? Where are you going? You’ll be a lot more motivated.
3. No goal. Without a well thought out, specific, measurable goal with a time limit on it, people flounder. “I want to lose weight,” doesn’t have one-tenth power of, “I want to lose twenty-five pounds by Thanksgiving.” So create a written goal with specifics - and a deadline. That way, you know what you have to do every day to reach it. It’s a lot easier to work with specifics than generalities.
4. No commitment. Often, people think they should change a behavior, or are told that they should, but deep down inside, they don’t want to. So they try to make that change, only to give up after a week or two. Then they feel bad about themselves, figure they’re failures, and give up. The problem lies not in them, but in lack of commitment. You’ll never succeed in losing those twenty-five pounds if you’re not truly committed. If you’re not sure that you really want to change a habit, work on your motivation and commitment first! Because without those two, you won’t succeed.
PossibilitiesWritten by Lynn Cutts
Do you ever conceive of an idea, start project, and then get distracted with a new one? Do you have hundreds of great ideas that never get finished? Do you jump around from one project to another?
You're in good company. It's a common pattern among highly creative and intelligent people. I call it "leap frogging," and it's what happens when people prefer having ideas to carrying them to completion.
There are many reasons we leap frog. One is that it's more fun to think and play with new "toys" than it is to work with old ones. Another is that any project has its own rhythm, which includes lulls, slumps, and brick walls. It's easier to start a new project that hasn't hit a wall, lull or slump than it is to work through wall, lull or slump of current project. And a third, which is more common than a lot of us think, is a fear that we'll never have time to get all stuff done in our lifetimes, or even more significantly, that we'll forget this great new idea and all it's nuances by time we've finished current project. After all, it does happen - all time.
There are many time management approaches to deal with first two reasons, but few address third issue: what if I forget? After all, when we first come up with an idea, we are in love with it. We don't want it to fall by wayside. (Even though we may not feel that way about six weeks into it, when something new and more interesting comes along.) So we allow ourselves to get distracted and jump into that shiny, new project.
Here's a solution. Set up a Possibilities list. Arrange four files, or sections in a three-ring notebook, or whatever system works for you. Label these, "This Year, Next Year, Some Year, and Maybe." (If this phrase rings a bell, it's adapted from an old jump rope rhyme.) Then when you get your next great idea, scribble no more than one page about that new idea, and then file it, according to when you WANT to get to it, instead of jumping on it right away.