Change Your Life: Trust the Process and Make the Practice Habit Stick

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success or happiness is found in your daily routine.”  – John C. Maxwell

We are a goal-driven, results-oriented culture here in the United States. The list of “shoulds” in our lives seems to grow by the day, written down in some virtual rule book that I don’t remember co-authoring! Who in society decided  this stuff anyway? With the constant information glut and background noise going on, it can be difficult to hear the still small voice inside us whispering — “May I have a moment? Practice your music because it makes you happy.”

Don’t get me wrong. It’s fine to dream big.  Write that dream down and then file it away.  Focus on the day-to-day work that will make your goal a reality.   The rewards will not be immediate.  You have to put in the time, and trust.  Give the neural pathways time to develop.

How do you make a habit stick?

“The whole idea of motivation is a trap…Just do it … without motivation. After you start doing the thing, that’s when the motivation comes and makes it easy for you to keep doing it. ” – John C. Maxwell

A common meme is that it takes 21 consecutive days of repetition to establish a habit. This is an over-simplification. Research undertaken by Phillippa
Lally, et al.,  published in the European Journal of Social Psychology found that a habit can take from 18 to 254 days to become ingrained. I wager that it takes at least  three months to establish a significant lifestyle change.  Three months, or more. Accept that you must be patient with yourself, and don’t give up. Give the neural pathways time to strengthen.   Even if your progress is sometimes derailed by life events, you will by then miss the rewards of small achievements along the way, and find it much easier to get back on track.  In a sense, you are building a positive kind of addiction.

Please check out Jonathan Harnum’s excellent book The Practice of Practice: How to Get Better Faster. There are so many good ideas in this book that I wish I could give it more than five stars.  I guarantee you will be inspired and have a lot of fun with your practice.