In his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey describes the breaking and making of habits to the launch of a spacecraft like Apollo 11. To get to the moon, writes Covey, those astronauts “literally had to break out of the tremendous gravity pull of the earth. More energy was spent in the first few minutes of lift-off, in the first few miles of travel, than was used over the next several days to travel half a million miles”
“Habits, too, have tremendous gravity pull – more than most people realize or would admit. Breaking deeply imbedded habitual tendencies such as procrastination, impatience, criticalness, or selfishness that violate basic principles of human effectiveness involves more than a little willpower and a few minor changes in our lives. ‘Lift-off’ takes a tremendous effort, but once we break out of the gravity pull, our freedom takes on a whole new dimension”
Question: How to do it? Dr. Stan O’Dell, professor of psychology at the University of Mississippi, suggests the following ways or ingredients (like the way he wrote it) in the breaking of bad habits:
- Make sure the change is for you, not to please someone else. Resolutions that are made to please a spouse, friend, or parent rarely succeed.
- Make a list of the reasons why you want to change.
- Be firm, but don’t expect too much too soon. Break down your goal into small steps.
- Announce your plan. Make a public commitment to it.
- Make the old habits as unpleasant or inconvenient as possible, while making the new habit easy to achieve.
- Plan strategies for special situations, and have a backup plan ready in case you slip.
- Recruit help from friends. Promising to meet a friend at exercise class makes you less likely to skip class.
- Consult an expert if necessary. Such serious problems as alcoholism, smoking, or drug abuse often require professional help.
- Reward yourself for small successes.
- Hold on for 90 days – the average time it takes to establish a new habit.
- Once you have established the habit, take it a day at a time. Don’t panic if you have an off day; just be sure to get right back in your routine the next day
Above all, trust that God can change you
His Holy Spirit will help you all the way
And may His Word strengthen you
[Read Ephesians 4:17-32]
Give it a try – okay?
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.