The most powerful influence on what we do or fail to do is habit. We form habits from childhood. Some of those habits are good, such as brushing your teeth. Some are not so good, such as smoking. We form hundreds of habits through life and once formed we usually continue to practice those habits unless we engage in a conscious effort to end them or change them.
We can establish new habits such as regular exercise, eating properly, and learning more through daily reading. To form a new habit one must make a conscious decision to form the new habit, create a clear idea of what that habit will be, preferably by writing it down, and then practicing it every day. Research indicates that if we practice a habit for a month it will become ingrained in us.
That does not mean that after one month we can forget all about it. It can die away unless we continue to make the effort to sustain it by repeatedly doing it. The more we practice a habit the more engrained it becomes. But that first month is key to establishing it and thereafter it becomes easier to sustain it.
This becomes the most powerful product of monthly planning. Choose a new habit that is positive and will make you healthier, more productive or better informed and practice it every day for a month. The seed will then be firmly planted and will have germinated. After that just keep at it and in time it will become automatic.
Likewise if you make the choice to end a bad habit the first month is critical in that process. Old habits may die hard, but they can die. Planning to end them for a month is the largest step toward defeating them. After the first month one must remain vigilant about not slipping back into a bad habit but that become progressively easier as the months pass.
Today is the beginning of a month. Choose one bad habit you wish to end and resolve to not practice that habit for the month of December. Likewise choose a habit you wish to cultivate and resolve to practice it for the entire month of December.
Write down reminders in your planner, on your smart phone, on your bathroom mirror, wherever you will see it all the time and then follow through. As you defeat bad habits and form new good ones you will feel empowered.
You do not have to wait until the New Year to make positive changes. You can begin making them today. Make that decision and follow through. If you slip up, and we all do, just resolve to get back on track. After a month of success you will be amazed how you can change your habits and your life.
Learn more about Effective Time Management from my free series at Effective Time Management Lessons
Daniel R. Murphy
Educating people for building wealth, adapting to a changing future and personal development.