I’ve found that one of the best ways to change ourselves is by forming habits. I’ve formed the habit of writing every day (though I admit sometimes keeping up is incredibly difficult). I’m in the process of habitually reading every day. In years past I’ve tried to form other habits, too, and I’ve noticed a pattern. From my personal experience, there is one singular factor that all but guarantees whether or not you actually successfully start doing something out of habit. The answer to it is simple, too.
Take no breaks. Ever since I made this blog, I’ve written five hundred words every single day for several months. Now, five hundred words isn’t a whole lot, I admit, but writing every day without fail can be difficult. There are days where I say “it’s two in the morning and I haven’t been home at all today. I can get away with not writing”. But that’s not the mentality I should have. If I let myself loosen up, I could grow lax, and eventually it could mean not writing daily anymore. In fact, I can still forget to write because I don’t have a devoted “time” to write blog posts. If I ever wake up the next morning and realize I didn’t write anything the day before, I know I will have reason to worry, because writing should never be allowed to leave my mind for that long. If I forget, it means I’m losing heart and need to find a new source of inspiration and redouble my efforts.
Even if you’ve ‘been good’ and you’re on the right track for doing whatever it is you’re doing, it can ruin everything if you allow yourself to relax. It is a good sign if you’re working hard enough to be thinking “man I need a break” but it can be devastating to let that happen. Imagine stacking a bunch of dominoes and rewarding yourself a quarter of the way through by tipping one over. It can be satisfying for that little bit, but it destroys all your progress and you’ll have to start all over. If that happens, you won’t want to start over because there will be no reason to assume the result would be different.
Last night, I went to bed at nearly two in the morning, and I didn’t have the heart to read any of The Lord of the Rings. I knew I would feel bad about it the next morning, so I plan on making up for it by reading at least three times as much as I usually do on a given night. I’m already worried that I’ve ruined the process of habitually reading by ‘letting up’ but if I remain focused and work to correct that mistake, it doesn’t have to be a problem.
Another thing. Don’t wait for a reason to start the change. If you wait for your birthday, or Christmas, or New Years to start changing yourself, all it means is that you’re wasting valuable time now. There are two voices in your head. One that says it wants something, and another that gives excuses not to work for it. Don’t listen to the latter. Humans are adaptable creatures. Prove that to yourself by starting that change today.