On Becoming Part 3: The habit of becoming
I want to read more. I want to exercise, at least some. I want to keep the clothes off the floor of my closet. But little changes.
Why is it that we want so badly to be someone different than we really are?
The Habit of Becoming More
The issue is habits.
You make decisions all of the time. Most of these choices have become so routine you don’t even notice them. They are made without much thought or effort or time. For good or bad.
These choices are your habits.
- The first thing you do when you get home is a habit.
- What time you get up is habit.
- What you do after you get up is a habit.
- Whether or not you floss is a habit.
- How you respond to people and situations, especially your own emotions such as anger, is a habit.
Our brains need this habitual decision making. If we had to sort through every detail of every decisions of every moment, we would all go nuts.
But many of us live our lives without thought. Without noticing what we are doing. Without being actively engaged.
We are becoming an accident. We are becoming our circumstances.
So how do you become more of who you are?
You change your habits. You change the these little hardly noticeable decisions. You orchestrate a series of little decisions and little actions that point you in the direction you desire to head.
Changing your habits is a long slow process, but it is worth it.
If you choose to make different choices with regards to the little things, consider these tips.
Identify the choices, especially the small ones that are made repeatedly, you make that prevent you from becoming what you want to be. My wife and I want to tighten our finances. We don’t get in trouble by going out to eat together once in a while. We get in trouble when I buy books and clothes repeatedly, even if those individual purchases seem small.
2. Focus on the Positive.
Don’t try to stop bad habits, instead focus on developing good habits. For reasons beyond me, we are better at adding in the positive than we are subtracting the negative. I have never been successful at stopping something. Instead pick the good choice you want to make every day and focus on the new habit.
3. Make small changes.
Change is always shock even when it is invited. Trying to change too much too quickly can be really hard. We don’t become overweight all at once. It takes more than one meal. And we won’t lose weight in the same way either. Make changes you can do right now, not the type of changes you want to make eventually. And consider only making 1 or 2 changes in your life at one time.
4. Train yourself through repetition.
Do that one activity at the same time every day. Our minds and our bodies benefit from predictable repetition. Eventually you will come to expect it, like eating or going to bed.
5. Establish reminders.
Make it hard to forget the new habit. A well-placed sticky-note. An alarm on your phone. Your running shoes sitting by the door.
6. Forgive yourself.
Showing yourself compassion is more important than most people think. You will fail at this. You will revert to old habits or make the choices you don’t want to. Would you be able to stay married if your spouse didn’t forgive you? Would your relationship with your children be okay without them forgiving you? You need to do the same for yourself. Be ready to forgive.
When you make the bad choice again or revert to old habits don’t get upset. Simply start again. Identify any factors that led to the failure and see if you can make a different change or adjust how you pursue the new habit.
Eventually these newer, better decisions occur without much thought. They just happen. They become your habits. And they make you more of you.
You will change, but if you choose your habits, you will change into the person you choose.
Eventually your winter will discover a new spring.
Have you had any success in changing your habits?
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