This guest post is from Bassam Tarazi, a nationally recognized author, speaker, and a world traveler who has visited more than 60 countries.
Here it is. A new year. The year everything is supposed to change in your life. How’s it going? Can you feel the metamorphosis?
Ok, well it doesn’t have to start today today, right? I mean, you might be a little tired to start right away. You’ll start tomorrow. The year is long! Well, maybe not tomorrow. Why not wait until the weekend?
And so Day 1 of a new year covertly turns into Day 4 and 5 without your knowing. Before you know it, half of the month gone, and the pressure to change something in your life mounts.
Don’t do that to yourself.
Don’t let this pressure of must. change. now. hang from your neck like an anchor.
Because that’s not how change works. You are not a cyborg. You can’t just change focus when you want to. If you could, New Year’s resolutions wouldn’t be a verbal graveyard a few weeks from now.
What we so often forget is that manufactured New Years momentum quickly evaporates under the blinding rays of what you’ve always done. The archaic, colossal habits effortlessly suffocate the chirps of want, should and supposed. The only way to combat this reality on a random, cold Wednesday in February is with an arsenal of daily habits that you have been ingraining and feeding for weeks on end, out of site of the old you.
Here’s the thing about change, for it to begin to take hold you won’t even know or feel like it has. There is a reason you can’t start driving a car in 5th gear. You haven’t earned the right to enjoy what the car can do at high speeds yet.
Research shows that it takes 66 days for a habit to truly form.
This is the tough realization about the whole thing. We don’t like these two realities: change we can’t feel that happens over periods of time longer than we prepared for.
But knowing this fact is power to you. Don’t ignore it. Instead, in the beginning: Do Less Than You’re Capable Of.
Usually, to prove to ourselves how great we are at the time of change or at the onset of a new project, we’ll do exactly what we’re capable of. But, if we do that, our over-zealous benchmark will quickly be the thing we can’t reach again.
Everyone who has tried to run 4 miles the first time out after having run a total of 0 miles the previous 6 months knows what I’m talking about. You wake up the next day with hamstrings more taut than bridge cables, and dealing with a back as supportive as a house made of Twizzlers.
So when you’re trying to incorporate a new habit in the beginning, don’t try to do as much as you think you could. Your brain has delusions of grandeur. Run ONE mile the first 3 times out.
Some people try to write 500 words a day but when they can’t after 3 days, they quit writing altogether. If they tried to write 250 words a day, it increases the chance of the new task (writing every day) becoming a habit. Let roots take hold before you try to build your tree.
So take a deep breath and don’t be so hard on yourself for not being able to immediately start doing the thing you haven’t been been able to do any day before.
No one can. No one has.
A new year is just a new year. There is nothing in the water, in the planets, in the astrological signs that say anything has to change right now.
Change happens at one indecipherable step at a time on whatever day you choose to. So whenever you do start, start slowly and stick with it even when you don’t feel change.