Back at the beginning of 2008 I made a decision to exercise 5 days a week for at least 25 minutes. Before I made this decision, I was a some-of-the-time athlete. I wasn’t consistent. After I made the new decision, exercise–primarily running–became a permanent fixture of my routine. My decision proved to be the game changer: exercise was no longer something I thought I should do more and had to force myself to do… it was who I was.
In thinking about how we develop positive habits, it seems to me that this moment of decision is crucial to creating positive change. I can think of several other areas of my life where I reached that moment (These areas may not surprise you, as they are ones I write about constantly on this blog):
- Weekday Morning Reading: Before I decided to read on weekday mornings, there were many books I wished I would read but didn’t, and reading was often reserved for special occasions (like binging on a novel during a vacation). I wished to do more reading–and sometimes I actually did read!– but I had no built-in reading habits. Since taking on my morning reading habit (which included, incidentally, tracking the books I read), I’ve read 147 books and counting!
- Regular Savings and Investing Plan: Before I decided to tackle my debt, and start systematically saving and investing, we were basically living month-to-month. Little was getting done to comprehensively plan our finances. We started paying down debt aggressively, putting aside money for savings and investments, and I began reading financial books (aided, of course, by my weekday morning reading habit). Since then, much in our financial world has changed for the better!
- 365 Day Blogging Project: Before I decided to blog every day for a year, this blog was something I had barely added to in two years. I felt bad about that. It seemed neglected and under-utilized. After I committed (and followed through, of course), the blog became a super-powerhouse of expression that has transformed my life!
It seems that powerfully making a new decision is a necessary component of making a change. It’s that do whatever it takes part, where you burn your bridges, so to speak, and step fully into a new reality, never go to back to the old.
Maybe it’s not enough to want something, to wish it, to think you should have/be/do it. Maybe you have to get to that point where you absolutely commit, and decide to embrace the new habit as a permanent part of you life.
At least that, is how it was for me. The decision-making process changed me. I wasn’t the same man afterwards… In fact, I was better.*
*Yet another good, life-changing decision: while away on a trip in Canada one summer I made the decision to ask my wife to marry me when I returned. This, of course, changed everything: in preparing for married life (a huge change in itself), I also moved 100 miles away out of the Bay Area to Sacramento, and essentially started over professionally. That is when I began my piano teaching business.