Since my divorce went down, I’ve been (temporarily) living in my dad’s basement. It’s almost like having my own apartment, except we share the kitchen and the bathroom.
Over the past six months, I’ve gotten used to where everything is in the kitchen. But then two weeks ago, my dad and his wife decided to renovate.
They got all new cabinets, countertops and even a farmhouse sink. And along with the renovation, they also moved things around. For example, they put the silverware in a totally different drawer from where it was the past six months.
The changes only lasted for two days before they decided to put everything back in the same place it was before, including the silverware.
But in those two days of the silverware being in a different place, my mind got into the habit of going to the new drawer.
Now, a week later, I still keep going back to the new drawer, thinking the silverware is gonna be in there. My mind reprogrammed the location of the silverware in only two days.
And so even though I know the silverware is back where it originally was, out of habit, I keep going to the new drawer looking for it (and finding kitchen utensils instead).
Isn’t that crazy? In only two days, I reprogrammed a habit I’ve had for six months now.
What’s even crazier is that’s how it can be with every habit, whether it’s finding the silverware in your kitchen or doing your writing every day.
Habits aren’t hard to create. And when you want something bad enough, you can create the new habit pretty quickly and keep it up.
The same thing happened for me years ago when I decided to start flossing my teeth at night.
After not flossing my teeth for most of my life, I just one day decided it was time to start flossing every night before bed. I bought some floss, I started flossing and that was that.
It became a habit without me even having to think about it. And I’ve kept it up daily ever since.
So, how do you make a new habit stick?
You have to make the decision with intention and mean it. And then decide again every day until it’s automatic.
2. Add It To A Routine
Do the new habit as part of a routine you already have, like flossing your teeth as part of your “getting ready for bed” routine.
Since you’re already doing several actions as part of your routine, it’s not hard to add one more thing into the mix.
3. Create A Trigger
When I wanted to create a habit of drinking water first thing in the morning, I started putting a bottle of water next to my bed at night. Then in the morning, I’d see it sitting there and it would trigger me to remember my new habit of drinking water when I wake up. (And then, of course, I’d drink the water.)
If you can find a way to “trigger” yourself to remember your new habit–such as programming a reminder into the calendar on your phone–it will be easier to keep it up.
New habits aren’t as hard to create as we think they are. It just takes a willingness to make a change and be different.
And that’s the hardest part for most people.
The being different thing. Doing things in a way you haven’t done them before. Being someone you haven’t been before.
But that’s what it takes.
Before I had the habit of flossing my teeth every night, I used to get tons of cavities. Every time I went to the dentist, they’d tell me I had another cavity, usually several.
I knew if I wanted to get off the cavity train, I had to do and be someone different. I had to be willing to be someone who cared about their teeth and who flossed daily.
I made the change–I took the action and I became that person. And now I have a habit of flossing AND I haven’t had a cavity since.
So whether you want to create a daily habit of writing or reprogram an old habit you no longer want, it doesn’t have to be hard or take a long time. It can be easy and fast.
But you have to make the decision that from here on out you will do this new habit every day and be someone for who this habit is automatic.
Dream life or bust,
P.S. I’m now booking Developmental Editing spots!! If you’ve got a manuscript you’ve been revising or one you’re ready to dust off and get feedback on, go here to watch my Developmental Editing video and then contact me and let’s chat.