"It takes 21 days, of continuous practice, to break one habit and form a new one."
Dr Maxwell Moltz
I love this expression. I use it in workshops, for my trainees to understand that they need to practice to truly acquire the new skill they are learning or to create new habits.
Sometimes I have problems achieving my goals.
Sometimes I set goals that are too far a stretch from where I am now.
Often I don't achieve my goals and experience the sweet sweet taste of completion and success.
So I thought, the 21 day rule for small steps.
Small steps to success.
I love a tipple, I really do. I love cool wine, iced beer and warm reds.
I like to be relaxed and at the weekend I like to go out and let the drinks flow freely with friends.
And I often have a couple over the line.
And it affects me so badly the next day - the hangovers are brutal and the difference between a Saturday after no booze and a Saturday after a night on the booze is remarkable.
Same during the week.
Even a couple of glasses can give me a dull head the next day.
I am not shy so to speak , but I am desperately self-conscious. I'm working on that. But a wee drink really helps with that. There's a reason why it's called Dutch courage, right?
So after a really boozy couple of weeks for one reason and another, and the knowledge that I do have only one liver, one body and one mind I thought there's only one thing for it.
Have a break.
But there's always a reason to break the fast. A night out. A celebration. A stressful day.
So 21 days.
It's a nice, manageable number especially for a right-brainer like me who needs clear, strict goals to tame my right brain and keep my left brain in line. Judgy left. Reckless right.
I've set up a program for myself.
It includes the following:
SMART goal around the intention
Options to overcome the obstacles
Statements of encouragement (affirmations, positive self-talk)
For me I set my intention - it is pure and driven for good and by love.
(Not guilt, fear or obligation)
The goal is simply not to drink any alcohol for 21 days.
Obstacles are many - fridge and drinks cabinet brimming with goodies, social occasions, meetings, all-inclusinve dinner sets, stressful days, hot nights.
The options are that I have created a menu of alternatives to alcohol that I can order in pubs or bars or drink at home.
Now this may seem intuitive and not like something you need. But my right brain is so confused and stimulated my choice and decision-making that it needs taming and my left brain is so very judgmental that I need to satisfy it with some structure. So a menu of handy drinks ready to pull out of my brain, or up on my Iphone is a must.
Progress - a visual representation of progress is a must. A MUST.
A chart on the wall.
A count up or count down in the diary. (I prefer a count-up, so I can see what have done; not what I have to do)
A coin in a jar - watch the wealth grow
A flower a day...
You get the picture
I am choosing a thousand yen note on a clip with a number on it on a post-it.
At the end I shall have 21,000 yen that I shall put to one side for something wonderful.
Reward for me will be the money, but also the satisfaction of each day where I achieve my goal. And also feeling better and looking better.
The long view is to change many habits on the back of this change and I have many other 21-day challenges lines up, some of which shall run concurrently:
Making my bed every day
Taking 15 minutes in the morning with a cup of tea or coffee to just sit.
From September - doing an hour of paperwork before work in the morning.
100 slides on the rhythm slider each day.
13 minutes of yoga each day.
And it must be every day.
A small step toward breaking old habits that don't serve.
Creating space for the new.
Labels: alert, clean up, cleanse, recovery, renewal