It’s been a productive first day. While Saturday is usually a weekend here in the UAE, I do tend to work on strategic tasks, and set the tone for the upcoming week. Added to the mix today was the sense of purpose – to identify some long-standing habits, be aware of them, and attempt course correction.
I say attempt – since correction isn’t easy at all. How many time have we tried to change a habit, or to form a new one – and failed? We start well, but somewhere down the road, we end up slipping into familiar territory again.
They say that it takes 21 days to make or change a habit. I say it takes more than just days. It takes 21 days, of conscious effort.
What is a habit?
Charles Duhigg writes in The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, that a habit is a loop of three components – a trigger, a routine and a reward.
The trigger is a cue to do something. Like when you wake up, the first thing you tend to do is check your phone. The cue is the act of waking up (and finding the phone beside your bed), the routine is to check social media or your emails, and the reward is the dopamine that is generated once you are satiated with the morning catchup.
So how do we form a habit? By employing this three-step loop on purpose.
For example, when you start your work day (lets say at 9 am), even when working from home, use that trigger to change the normal routine of checking your emails (and getting overwhelmed) to writing down three things that you want to achieve that day. The reward is the sense of satisfaction that you are able to have a fresh start with a focused approach, rather than a haphazard one.
That’s how you change a bad habit as well. Cue remains the same, so does experiencing a reward. Change the routine in between.
What habit did I (attempt to) change?
Well, you are looking at it. Cue – Open Safari to look through the daily news. Routine – open WordPress and write something, anything, for 15 minutes. Reward – instead of mindless browsing, even if it was for a short time, I now have some words on paper (in this case, metaphorically).
Also, on the meditation front, I’ve reached a good 30 minutes. Excluding the 12 minutes of Ujjayi pranayama that I start with. The challenge is to continue this and increase the time, not decrease it. A lot more on meditation in a subsequent post.
Did I mention that I managed to review six new articles and videos in the morning? Or that I clocked around 1 hour and 15 minutes of reading time? And that I am going to see a movie (at home) now, part of the quality time I spend with family?
And that I spent an additional 40 minutes eating mindfully?:)
A good start to the 7-day challenge, and am counting my blessings and praying (in my own small way) for humanity. Join me if you would like to:)