Recently inspired by a client’s successful experiment, I became motivated to commit to a series of experiments around positive changes I intend to make in both my leadership and my life.
First, I examined elements of my life I would like to change — obvious things like weight loss, regular exercise, and reading. From there, I determined more specific areas, including strategic outreach, gratitude journaling, and clean eating. Then I started considering what it would really take to make these changes stick and to overcome the inertia of current habits.
Before I could answer that, however, I had to ask myself the first and fore- most question of “why?” Once you’ve targeted an area of your life for change, ask yourself why you want to make that change. What are the compelling reasons, perhaps from a larger perspective, that you see for this change? And once you have answered that question — once you’ve made that emotional (not intellectual) connection to the importance of the change — how long is long enough to experiment with the change to see if it is making an impact?
There are mixed opinions on how long it actually takes to develop a new habit or to break an old one. From both my experiences and others’ research, I would suggest it takes up to 30 days to begin to develop or break a habit, and 67 days to lock this new behavior into your unconscious so that it becomes automatic, operating at levels of unconscious competence.
I made that change commitment for the month of July, and so far, so good. I have committed to three experiments and selected three areas on which to focus — cleaner eating, gratitude journaling, and writing seven pages daily for my new book. Once momentum is established (30 days) and then locked in (67 days), transformations are likely to follow.
My request is that you join me in making a commitment to experiment with at least one new behavior for the next 30 days. This means you have the potential to experience a minimum of at least six transformations between now and the end of the calendar year. Closely examine your time management and unconscious habits for areas that could use some movement. We all have the same number of hours in a day; are your hours being overrun by unconscious habits that are no longer serving you well? Don’t let a lack of awareness of the reasons behind your status quo prevent you from improving it.
Some ideas for experimentation include:
- Eating clean
- Exercising daily
- Weekly and daily planning
- Immersing yourself in nature
- Starting a new hobby
Your newly transformed life is waiting for you, and it only takes the commitment to one experiment, 30 days at a time. Imagine what your life could be like — imagine waking up aspects of yourself that have lain dormant, and to begin to consciously and intentionally shake things up so that your light shines brighter and your impact lasts longer.
Ask yourself “why” today and every day. Ask it frequently and stop going through the motions. Take yourself of f automatic pilot and make conscious choices.
Ralph L. Simone is founder of Emergent (formerly Productivity Leadership Systems) in Baldwinsville
Originally appeared in Central New York Business Journal August 1st 2016