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This is something I’ve done myself many times over the last decade. Here’s just a sample of the new normal I’ve achieved in my life:
- Writing every day became normal
- Not having coffee became normal
- Juicing became normal
- Meditating every morning became normal
- Reducing and eventually (mostly) eliminating sugar became normal
- And so on:
In fact, since 2007 (I had a divorce) my life has been a constant adjusting of what’s normal. Adjusting normal is my normal now.
There are some things that have been forming my habits since I was a child. My father had a heart attack when I was young so my mother always prepared “bland” food. No salt, No sugars, etc. But I never noticed because I ate the food prepared and we never really ate out at restaurants. Later in life when I saw people reach for the salt, I never felt compelled to use it myself since it was not my “habit”. I always ate the food as prepared. I guess that habit was good for me.
However, most habits we have are not so good. For most people, changing is tough because there’s some pain in changing. When you have a problem, there is the pain it causes in your life, but there’s also a pain of trying to change it. When the payoff of trying to change is outweighed by the pay off of continuing the old way, people stick with what they’re comfortable with.
How do we overcome this problem of the pain of change? Well, you should start small, start with one thing at a time, and make the change easier. You want to make changing the path of least resistance, because change usually isn’t for most people.
If you make a drastic change, it feels really hard and really different, and not something you can stick to for very long.
But when you make a change easier, it makes it easier to take that all-important first step. Once you take that first step, you have a bit of forward momentum. And it’s much easier to be consistent and stick with something for a long time.
Let’s take an example: I used to work til very late. Most know I don’t sleep much. I used to think there was nothing wrong with that, but eventually I realized I was making an excuse for not taking care of my body (which is always aging). So I started getting up earlier and earlier, which made me more ready for bed at an earlier time. At first, it was a struggle to sleep since I thought I had “more to do in the day”. But after a few days, going to bed was what I was looking forward to. Now, I am feeling more refreshed in the morning and even slowed down to meditate more in the mornings which is my new habit in the morning which I had never done before, but that is another story.
You can do this with anything – exercise, meditation, procrastination. Gradually adjust what feels like normal to you.
Here’s the process:
- Start small. What’s the smallest increment you can do? Do this for at least 3 days, preferably 4-5.
- Get started. Starting the change each day is the most important thing. Want to run? Just get out the door. Want to meditate? Just get on the cushion.
- Enjoy the change. Don’t look at this as a sacrifice. It’s fun, it’s learning, it’s a challenge.
- Stick to the change. Notice your urge to quit. Don’t act on it. Keep going.
- Adjust again. When the change becomes normal, make another small adjustment.
This is the process of creating a new normal. Now go ahead and try it for yourself!.