What You Need to Know Before Starting a New Habit - Goodlife Zen

What You Need to Know Before Starting a New Habit


By Mary Jaksch

Change, real change is difficult. It may be easy to wear a new hairstyle and pin up some new affirmations on the fridge, but that’s just glossing the exterior. Deep change is different. It’s the kind of transformation caterpillars go through in order to become butterflies.

Why change is difficult

Change is painful because we cling to our idea of who we are …’warts and all’. That’s why there’s a sense of loss when we change. We lose part of what we think defines us. Even unhappiness, or being overweight, or feeling bad about ourselves, is something we cling to. That’s why it’s so hard to change.

All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another. ~Anatole France

Why continuity is important

In order to feel grounded, a certain amount of continuity in life is important. Make sure you don’t change too much at once. If you plan to make major changes to your life, just focus on one thing at a time.

Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights. ~Pauline R. Kezer

When is the time for change right?

That’s a difficult question. But the answer is really quite simple: you are ready to change when the pain of remaining as you are is greater than the pain of change.

It’s not that some people have willpower and some don’t. It’s that some people are ready to change and others are not. ~ James Gordon

True change is in the mind

Every change that we make is basically a change of mindset. The most important skill you need for change is is the ability to put unskillful thoughts aside and let them go. When you notice your thoughts going into a negative arena, say to yourself: “I won’t follow that thought,” and intentionally bring your mind to bear on the present moment.

The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it. ~Marcus Aurelius

Why letting go works better than trying hard

Change doesn’t usually come about through a great effort. It comes about through a series of small decisions. For example, if you are trying to get fitter, then the small decisions are about going out and exercising are the ones that will effect that change. At those moments you need to to let go of the whiny thoughts about how hard it will be and how tired you are right now. When you let go, you work with the flow of thoughts, when you try hard, you’re paddling upstream.

By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond winning. ~ Lao Tzu

How far are you willing to change?

Do you want to stay basically the same, but just adjust a few things here and there? Or are you ready for deep change? Both are viable options, but if you opt for the second one, you’ll need to gather all your spiritual, mental, and physical strength in order to achieve the change.

Any transition serious enough to alter your definition of self will require not just small adjustments in your way of living and thinking but a full-on metamorphosis. ~Martha Beck

Are small steps better or big leaps?

It depends on the kind of change you want to effect. I would say that if you want to change an addiction, a leap is better. Years ago I was a heavy smoker. At first I tried was to get myself off smoking by gradually reducing the amount of cigarettes I smoked each day. That didn’t work for me because it led to obsessing about when I could smoke the next cigarette. The only thing that finally worked was to stop completely, from one moment to the next. However, if you want to create a new wholesome habit, incremental change works a lot better.

Change happens one moment at a time

It’s best to focus on the small decisions of each moment that make up change, and not look ahead to transformation. It’s like struggling up a mountain. Keep on looking up to that distant peak, and you’ll feel discouraged and tired. But take one step at a time, and you’ll be surprised how much height you’ve gained when you look back.

Always remember that the future comes one day at a time. ~ Dean Acheson

Changing, and challenging ourselves keeps us alive and growing. It’s always an easier option to go with the status quo, but if we keep on doing that, our capacity contracts.

The great thing about life is that we can invent ourselves over and over. We can continually discover new skills and new areas of experience as we go through life. It’s sometimes a struggle, but it leads to a vibrant and fulfilled life.

After you’ve done a thing the same way for two years, look it over carefully. After five years, look at it with suspicion. And after ten years, throw it away and start all over. ~Alfred Edward Perlman

What are you going to change in your life?


About the author

Mary Jaksch

Mary is passionate about helping people create a happy, purposeful, and fulfilling life. She is the founder of GoodlifeZEN and also the brains behind WritetoDone.com, one of the biggest blogs for writers on the Net. Mary is also a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

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