What are they?
Well, the dictionary describes a habit as; an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary; a dominant or regular disposition or tendency.
Frankly, I don’t think the dictionary knows what it’s talking about.
I have defined my habits as those things that I keep doing, that I shouldn’t be doing, that I know I shouldn’t be doing, that I do anyway, that I enjoy doing when I’m doing them doing and then feel as guilty as hell afterwards.
In other words habits are those things that make me do what I shouldn’t do and then make me feel bad later. It’s like I have no control over them. They own me.
What got me thinking about habits was that earlier this week I received a call from my friend Jerry. You remember Jerry? The guy from blog #168 “Play it again Sam. Then play it again and again and again.”
He called to chat and to let me know what he’s been up to since we last got together.
Jerry is a habits guy. He is the person who completely redefined himself by taking the time to identify those habits that were causing strife in his life will and then systematically changed every single one of them.
I love talking to Jerry because he serves as a constant reminder of the power our habits have in shaping our lives.
Just hearing Jerry’s voice on the phone reminded me of something that I had been meaning to do ever since that day a few weeks ago when he and I met for the first time.
I remember leaving the restaurant, feeling inspired by Jerry’s story, and committing myself to making a list of all of those habits I have that are moving me away from where I want to be.
Several times in the few weeks since that meeting I have reminded myself of my commitment and Jerry’s voice triggered enough guilt feelings in me to pick up a pen and begin my list.
Bad habit number one: procrastination.
I was tempted to put the list away until a more convenient time and then I thought of how different Jerry’s life would be today had he constantly put off the start of developing his new habits until, well, never.
I picked up a pen and wrote eight words across the top of the page, each word representing an area of my life where I just know I can do better.
My eight columns now had these headings: intellectual, family, career, financial, emotional, physical, relationships and spiritual.
And then one by one, with painful honesty, I listed those things that I repeatedly do, or don’t do, that are preventing me from being exactly where I want to be.
I mentioned it was painful. It was also time-consuming and when I was finally done I had filled more than five pages with notes and my feelings were alternating between despair, disgust, and disappointment.
I remembered Jerry telling me that he too had completed this exercise and had realized that he would never be able to replace the anger he was directing at himself until he changed all of those habits that were the cause of that anger.
And, like Jerry, I began working on a new list.
And in each of the columns I listed a series of activities that I would begin to do over and over and over again.
I worked on this list over several days and finally completed it yesterday morning.
There is nothing new or startling on this list but previous experience has taught me that the task of acquiring these new habits will be somewhat daunting.
So I picked a start day. Today!
The timing is perfect. As mentioned, I finished the list yesterday and yesterday was also my birthday, a perfect day to overindulge in all of my bad habits one last time.
And I sure did.
So here I am: Day One.
We have talked many times about how our reason for doing something has to be bigger than our reason for not doing it and I will succeed because by committing my list of bad habits to paper – acknowledging their existence and accepting ownership of them – I found the powerful and compelling reasons I need in order to change them.
My biggest reason of all is you – those who take the time to read my weekly ramblings – because I know you all want me to succeed and the thought of having to write a blog explaining why I have failed is far more painful than anything I may have to force myself to do in order to acquire my new habits.
I will not allow that to happen.
With your indulgence, I will provide regular progress reports.
If any of you have any habits in your own lives you would like to replace, please contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let’s do this together.
I would love to be able to help you and I know I would benefit enormously by having a “buddy” group of like-minded folks.
Please pass this onto your friends and ask them to join us too.
I once read a great quote that said “today is the first day of the rest of your life.”
Let’s do this together and let’s make each day of the rest of our lives remarkably fabulous.
Till we read again.
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