New Beginnings End Old Habits
How often have you wanted to change something in your life and yet the more you focused on changing the worse things got?
Not too long ago my wife said she was going to stop eating sweets for an entire month and she asked me if I would like to participate. Intrigued, I said yes. At the end of the month we made some interesting discoveries. First, my wife couldn’t believe how much she missed chocolate. Secondly, even though we had willingly given up sweets, it felt like a punishment. By focusing on the thing we were trying to give up we actually increased our craving for it.
Just like my wife and I felt penalized when we gave up sweets, people can also feel punished when they attempt to end a habit. Especially since many people turn their habits into their rewards: a cup of coffee to get them started in the morning, a cigarette to help them relax at break or a few cold beers at the end of a hard day.
A great example of this is Lent and Mardi Gras. Lent, a Catholic religious observance, asks people to sacrifice something they enjoy for an entire month. One of the interesting outcomes of this religious sacrifice is the creation of a huge indulgence party to replace what is given up, Mardi Gras. Now think of this moment in another way. What if Lent was defined, not as giving up something you enjoy, but starting something new in your life that is good? Instead of feeling punished and producing an even greater hunger for what is missing, you might just feel empowered because you are adding to your life through a new beginning.
What if my wife and I, instead of giving up sweets and feeling punished, we rewarded ourselves by starting a new eating habit where we only ate fresh and whole foods for an entire month? Instead of feeling like something is being taken away, we would feel like we were adding something new and good to our lives. Sweets would simply become a natural casualty of our new beginning. Instead of putting more energy into our old problem, we would be expanding our life by creating something new.
Positive change isn’t about removing things from our life; it is about creating new beginnings that eclipse old habits and give us hope!
Take a look at a few habits in your life that annoy you and write them down on a piece of paper. To the side of this list create a second list of new beginnings that would make your old habits natural casualties. Your new beginnings should have words like: start, initiate, engage and act in them. Now, erase your old habits and pick the best new beginning on your list and create a simple plan to implement it. With sustained effort and consistency; this new beginning will become your new hope!