Rewind your clock to six months ago. What did your weekdays look like? What did your weekends look like? Were they fulfilling or boring, jam-packed or too slow, filled with family time or filled with erroneous tasks, cumbersome or light-hearted? There is no right or wrong answer here. Just your answer.
Now look at your weekdays today. Look at your weekends today. Have they changed? Have any of the above answers changed since six weeks ago? Perhaps inverted for better or worse? Again, no right or wrong answer. Just your answer.
If you have looked at a news article or social media feed in the past 30 seconds you likely know where I’m going with this. Yes, our world got turned upside down about four weeks ago. Quite literally overnight we were told that we were no longer able to do certain things that felt like part of our fiber, part of our core, and part of our ‘normal’. To anyone reading this, the specifics might be somewhat different; for a parent of school aged children, they likely lost the ability to take their kids to school each day, for a service industry employee they potentially lost their job, for an office employee they likely are having to learn to work from home, and the list obviously goes on and on.
But the underlying theme for NEARLY EVERYONE is that overnight, we underwent drastic change and were forced into a new lifestyle quite literally overnight.
How does one cope with such massive change? Well for me, personally, there was some fear, procrastination, followed by massive action with little planning, followed by recoiling into a ball in a corner of my office with the door locked, followed by devout denial of the situation, followed by a few fights with my wife over the best path forward for our household, followed by trying more massive uncoordinated action until my head nearly exploded.
If you aren’t catching the theme here, then here it is: action without a plan is hard and often not the best path to successfully implementing new habits and new normal.
I then introspected and came back to some of the basic principles of executing massive change. The most rooted of these principles is that massive change cannot successfully happen overnight. When one is confronted with upheaval of their norms, it is ok to sit with that loss. It is ok to grieve and not know for sure what to do. From those emotions comes the next step. And that is the advice I am here to offer today.
HOW TO MASTER A HABIT
Massive change is best executed through the development of habits.
Habits are solidified by mastering skills.
Skills are developed through repetition and continual practice.
If you are feeling overwhelmed right now, then do me a favor. Sit with that emotion and ask yourself what is one thing that if done consistently would help to quell that overwhelm? Then identify the skills it would take to achieve that thing and break down that skill into one or two items you need to practice daily in order to master it.
An example might be getting into the habit of cooking at home far more often that you did six weeks ago. Daunting, I know.
An underlying skill of frequently cooking meals at home, might be keeping a fully stocked refrigerator and pantry filled with nutritious options to build well rounded meals.
One practice you can do to achieve that may be to download an app that is good for lists and making sure you are adding to that list as kitchen items run low. Another practice might be making sure you thaw something out every single morning (it doesn’t matter what it is, just something) so that no matter what, when the evening hits you have something available to cook.
The goal here is to break a daunting task down into its smallest constituent parts and build up one by one from there.
Remember, developing healthy habits is within your grasp. Start by identifying the skills needed to execute the habit and then the practices needed to master that skill.
This post was previously published on Change Becomes You and is republished here with permission from the author.
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Photo credit: Joey Szolowicz