Transformation and Building Small Habits

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The Desire to be Different

For years I wanted to change a lot of things about myself. Most of those changes were personality attributes that I didn’t admire such as my laziness or lack of assertiveness. I read a lot of books and occasionally [when I felt like it] would apply what I had learned in those books. I would make some slight changes at something but nothing that was groundbreaking or substantial enough to be called “real transformation.”

I became frustrated mostly because the term “manifestation and reinvention” were two words embedded into my mind. For me it meant “completely changing everything about who you are” right away. I wanted to be a completely new individual, to think differently and act differently, and to stop doing the things that obviously weren’t working.

I gave up a lot of times when things didn’t change right away. I read all the right books and applied most of what they said. I did this all alone too without sharing my knowledge with anyone. Why should I give away the secrets to building success? Others can find out for themselves what it takes to make it and be self-reliant.

There is a myth that, in order to be complete or to develop change, you have to transform who you are and start acting like who you want to be. I think the words “transform” or “manifest” scares a lot of people. Why? When I hear “transformation” it sounds like enlightenment, and to attain enlightenment is not a easy task. The Buddha is enlightened. I am just “me” struggling with the day to day simple problems and obstacles. So I moved away from transforming and focused instead on just the small changes that could inevitable generate big results.

The 30-Day Challenge for Habit Change 

Instead of taking on a huge challenge like completely changing my life in three days, I would take a particular defect that I didn’t like and work on it for 30 days. Cursing is an example. I curse worse than Joe Pesci in Goodfellas. It became my “default language” whenever I felt stress or frustration. It didn’t relieve my stress but added to it.

So, for 30 days I tried not to curse. I failed 17 times, and every time I failed I had to start over again. But day by day this habit shifted. After thirty days I picked another habit to “MASTER”. I continued this for six months, focusing on one habit to implement every thirty days.

Another example: Writing 1000 words a day. For years I procrastinated. I wanted to do the things I was always thinking of doing and yet, whenever I got around to it or I had free time, I watched TV or surfed the internet for the latest gossip news on the Yahoo homepage. Time wasted.

By putting aside just thirty minuets a day I could write 1000 words a day for thirty days. Now I do it everyday and if I don’t, it pulls at me from the inside. I realized that for years I was defatting myself by believing in the myth of transformation, and that to make changes in your way of life you had to overcome your obstacles and challenges all in one day.

It is overwhelming to think this way. Nothing changes overnight. All things are in stages, and those stages can happen in small increments. You don’t have to rush it. You have time. I was always pressed for time. And the older you get, the more pressure you feel.

If you put pressure on yourself to change all your habits, shift your mindset, and totally transform the way you live…in as little as there days, you are going to cause stress. Change happens in time and through the consistent and daily practice of those little things. I have always been an all or nothing kind of person. It had to be done, all at once or not at all. This kind of thinking led to procrastination, and this leads to getting nothing done. I am a firm believer in transforming habits and focusing on change to develop life skills that are weak; but, nothing comes easy and it takes time.

One Action at a Time

Focus on one habit, concentrate on one action, and give that all your focus for a determined amount of time. You will gradually see the changes in your lifestyle and the way you do things. And, you will and can feel better. It doesn’’t have to be all done today.

I have always been obsessed with doing things in a BIG way. If I created a website, it had to be the best website on the net; when i wrote a book, it had to be the perfect bestseller; if I looked for a new job, it had to be the best job in town. My expectations were higher than my talent, and when I didn’t succeed at these things I was depressed and beat myself up. Either I had to have it all or I didn’t want it at all.

Take-Away Strategies and Actionable Items:

  • Focus on one thing at a time;
  • See transformation as a long term investment
  • Integrate these changes in the everyday small actions you take.
  • Focus on the moment. Stay there for as long a you can.
  • Integrate the “Baby Steps” in everything you do.
  • Be Patient…with yourself.

About Scott Allan

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