A New Habit needs a Plan

The new action to replace the old

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I recently embarked on a determined journey of change. I was motivated to do so after reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. When I finished reading the book I proceeded immediately to analyze my habits in order to uncover which one of them I wanted to change.

After close inspection of my habits I resolved to change a few of them, one being the amount of time I spend streaming old shows through platforms like Netflix or Amazon Prime. I decided that there was a better use of my time and that is how it made the list.

The first couple of days of this habit change were relatively easy. I stuck to to my guns and did not let up. I finished the first week successfully having spent all of this extra time reading, playing the piano, or taking longer walks with my dog. Soon though I began to regress, before too long my old habit took over and I was spending more time watching old shows.

Naturally, I was disappointed in myself but I didn’t give up. I asked why I had failed in this first attempt so that when I started again to change this habit I could circumvent it. What I came up with was that I did not have a plan of action to instill a new habit in place of the old one. My first few days I was riding high on the initial excitement of my new path which is why it was easy to stick to it. However the activities I did in place of watching Netflix, such as playing the piano or a longer dog walks did not have objectives in and of themselves.

In changing a habit it is necessary, I have discovered, to have a new action to replace the old. It isn’t enough to stop practicing an old habit, it must be replaced.

But, replaced with what? You can change it with any positive action that you like. I discovered that for myself the positive action has to have a long term purpose. I chose to look at my goals in order to examine which ones I could work improve on to get closer to them having been achieved. I zeroed in on reading for improvement of self be it career, hobby, or spirituality didn’t matter so long as it builds me up and teaches me something new.

So far it has been an incredible journey and much more entertaining. I am reading about people who have done extraordinary things with their talents and skills, some with very little means. I am discovering things about myself that I like and also habits I would like to change. I can say with great conviction that changing a habit, even the smallest one, can have a profound impact on how one sees the world and for lasting habit change back it up with a replacement action.

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