Developing a Habit Can Be Easier Than You Think

I have some strange sleeping habits. I don’t normally get THIS personal in my articles, but there is a point to my admission, so just stay with me for a moment. The first strange sleeping habit is that I like to sleep with a pillow over my head. Not under. Over. On top of. The other unusual sleeping habit is that I like to have a pillow under my left arm.

Now I will explain why. I developed the habit of sleeping with a pillow over my head when my middle child, Thomas, was an infant. I read a book on “sleep training” and decided to try it out. The basic theory is that you let the child cry for 10 minutes, uninterrupted, before going in to sooth them. Over time, the baby develops their own self soothing techniques – which they are born with – but don’t have the opportunity to develop if the parents go sooth them immediately. The theory sounded very simple, straight forward and logical, so I tried it. Well, every mother knows how tortuous it is to listen to your baby cry. Ten minutes may not sound like a long time, but to a new mother who actually feels their baby’s crying, ten minutes is an eternity. One night, I put the pillow over my head to muffle the sound and I fell asleep. From that night on, I was hooked. And the sleep training worked. He ended up being the best sleeper ever. It only took a few weeks and the worst of it was the first few nights.

I developed the habit of sleeping with a pillow under my left arm in a similar way. When I was 23, I had a terrible snowboard accident, where I fell on solid ice, stuck out my left arm to break my fall and it hyper extended. I broke my arm and dislocated my elbow. Yes, both bones in my forearm were ripped out of my elbow socket. Yuck! I still cringe when I think about it. I was put in a big, scary looking cast that had a huge metal hinge on the outside so they could very gradually straighten the arm. The first few weeks after the accident, not only was my arm very sore, but the big, heavy cast was cumbersome and made it difficult to sleep. The only comfortable position I found was on my stomach and to put a pillow under the left arm.

So the other day, I was telling someone about my pillow-hogging ways. I explained my 2 strange sleeping habits and why I have them. And then it hit me like a lightbulb. Have you ever heard the saying, “it takes 21 days to make or break a habit” ? It’s true even when it’s not intentional!!! Both of my strange sleeping habits were developed over a period of approximately 21 days -ish. And 20 and 14 years later, I still have these habits. Still!!!

So, if I could develop a habit over 21 days that has persisted for 20 years, you can too. And it can be something that serves you or your business. What habit do you want to develop in your business? Is it to write and send a weekly electronic newsletter? Is it to be active on Facebook? Is it to establish a budget, financial goals and track them? Or maybe it’s to start a fitness regime. Whatever it is, you can do it. You can do it!

But here’s my most important tip: make sure you are developing the habit from a place of feeling good about it and NOT from a place of feeling like you “should” or “need to.” I think this is just as important as the 21 day commitment. In both of my examples, I did the habit because it felt better. So approach your habit forming from a place of doing it because it will make you feel better.

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