Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

On Becoming Part 3: The habit of becoming

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This article is part 3 in a series on becoming. In case you missed them, be certain to read Part 1: Becoming Summer or Part 2: Don’t stop being you.

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?

Previous we talked about two of the problems. We talked about being you. But today we do something. Actually, lots of little somethings.

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.
photo by Kevin Morris

photo by Kevin Morris

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.

Making Changes

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.

1. Self-Evaluate.

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.

Becoming

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?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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6 Replies

  1. Daniel Davenport

    Good stuff Jeremy! I have really enjoyed your last few posts on becoming. They have raised a lot of questions in my own life and allowed me to really contemplate about who I want to be and how to develop the habits needed to become that person. I often find myself thinking about the statement “Am I a product of my environment or is my environment a product of me”. I like to think that it is the later because we all want to matter and make a difference but in all actuality I am most likely a combination of both. If you have not read The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg it is a really good book I read back in January about transforming our habits. Thanks so much for helping me to become a better me!

  2. Jeremy Statton

    Thanks, Daniel. I’m glad it has been encouraging. I’m still exploring what any of this means.

  3. Making small changes is a huge helper. There are times when we try to change a ton of things all at once and then get discouraged because we can’t make it stick. Slowing down and managing 1 – 2 will help us understand how the change is going to impact us, and what is required to make the change last. Great post JS.

  4. “We are becoming an accident. We are becoming our circumstances.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything so perfectly rendered. That’s exactly what I’ve become. Yesterday morning at breakfast, I was paralyzed by the thought that life is cyclical, sometimes in the worst ways possible. I stumble through Monday through Friday looking forward to the weekend, then the weekend passes, and on Sunday evening, I have to prepare myself for the drudgery of Monday through Friday once again. And there’s no end in sight.

    Your post plays into my fear of life being nothing but drudgery, a means to an end. I need to be more conscious of my habits. You have no idea how much I needed to hear this, Jeremy. Thank you.

  5. The other fear is that life is nothing more than moments of pleasure. And then it is all gone.

  6. CM Logan

    “Showing yourself compassion is more important than most people think.”

    We are challenged to give grace to others and forgive freely the errors of our fellow man, but it is not too often we are given the task of aiming our grace at ourselves. We are just as messed up as everyone else. The road to becoming a better person and telling a better story is not always paved. There will be dirt, rocks, and potholes on the way. We must keep going.

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