- Mary Pickford
Beyond childhood, you may have experienced setbacks or letdowns for which you clearly recall the reasoning.
Often we are so opposed to change that the slightest sign a new way of doing things isn’t working out becomes the signal to stop trying. We are creatures of habit, and breaking the mold we’ve created for ourselves is a challenge few feel they have the time or the energy to face.
Fortunately, we can chip away at that mold until the cracks become wide enough to break free.
According to most psychologists, it takes 21 days to break a habit. The actions and reactions you develop in response to letdowns are nothing more than habits that you can rid yourself of with practice.
Your own thinking may be “fencing you in”!
Ready for another exercise?
Make a list of all the things you’ve tried and stopped doing before completing (remember, you haven’t failed at them- you have simply made a temporary pit stop on the path to success).
This list might include diets, resolutions, exercise habits, quitting smoking, or even self-help programs like this one. Leave yourself some space after each item.
When you get to the end of the list, go back and fill in those habits you have developed as a consequence of waiting to follow through. For example, if you listed “The Atkins Diet,” your habit might be “overindulging on pasta because I didn’t eat any for six months.”
Some of your habits may be simple to change; others may require deviation from your intended course. In the pasta example, you might realize you can still eat pasta, just not as often as you have been while making up for the loss.
Come up with an alternative for each habit that you can live with, so you don’t short yourself before you get started. You might decide to have pasta twice a week instead of every other night.
Now that you have a guide, you can start implementing successful changes one step at a time.
Choose one or two habits you’d like to change, and be sure to implement the changes daily for 21 days in a row. It’s helpful to keep a journal or a chart to remind yourself what you’re working on and why.
You can also treat yourself to a reward after the successful completion of each habit-breaking cycle. How about a nice, big plate of spaghetti? Go ahead; you’ve earned it!