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Re-direction in the New Year

Posted on January 06 2013

At the beginning of every new year, we take a look at the days passed and aspire to be better. We talk ourselves into taking more action and will ourselves to take greater leaps of faith in the coming months. The thing with us human beings is that we’re creatures of habit. 

They say it takes 90 days of repetitive action on our part to create a habit. When we decide to make a change, the enthusiasm, faith and excitement are usually quite intoxicating. Sooner or later however, these feelings die down. We make a couple of slips and find ourselves reverting back to old habits. Right then and there, we lose hope and eventually, we stop trying.

When moments like this happen, I like to downsize my thoughts, simplify them. Most importantly, I try to be a little less judgmental of myself. I had a similar experience the other day and during my moment of frustration, I had an epiphany while doing the most mundane of tasks.

For six years, I’d had my trash can in the same spot. After every meal, I’d approach that spot and scrape off all the bits of leftovers. While cooking or when it was time to take out the trash, I’d approach the same spot. For six years, I took the same action and traced the same steps without blinking. I could walk to that spot with my eyes closed and probably even did a few times. 

A month ago however, I decided to make some changes to the layout of my kitchen. After six years, I moved the location of the trash can. Every single day after that change, I went to the old location of the trash can. Those moments were always followed by the prompt realization that I was going the wrong way and then a re-direction of my steps towards the new location of the trash can. 

After about a month of doing this dance and in the middle of beating myself up over something else, I realized while cooking, that I had formed a new habit. I was no longer going towards the old spot where I kept the trash. Somewhere in between my many moments of re-direction, I had adapted.

It hit me that there is no shortcut to change. You just have to keep doing it. You have to keep taking the same action over and over again until it becomes a habit. You have to keep moving in that new direction, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you. You have to be willing to turn around as many times as required to course correct. There is no shortcut to change, but stay the course, and it will eventually become second nature.

Happy New Year!

Wemi

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