Can we make change a habit?

Change "by heart" - in business and life.

Oct 29
Can we make change a habit? Cosima Laube

Originally I wanted to write a blog post on building habits in general because this is what influenced and touched me the most during the last weeks. And it is something I definitely want to share with you out there. Then I just fired up the blogging system and started to think what to write. Now this article will also about habits - about one specific habit I seem have to built over the years. And I just realised it now while thinking about what to write.

It is about change in life.

One warning in advance: this article is not about answers. It is about questions. About what keeps my brain busy thinking.

Short recap first...

To give you a little context, I set myself three big (unordered) goals for 2017 as kind of guidelines during my personal retro of 2016 on New Year's eve.

What changed since then?

Introduce order

First remarkable thing is: if you would ask me now, I could clearly order my year goals:

  1. stepping out of my comfort zone and do great in my new job
  2. running a healthy marathon (in October)
  3. finishing my studies in psychology

How did each goal change and evolve over the last months?

Goal 1: More information helps to split and focus

For the comfort-zone-and-job goal I realised after quite a short time that it included two goals in one. Of course my job requires me regularly to step out of my comfort zone so that I am in the 'learning and energy zone'. And yes, in some situations I also have dipped my toes in the 'panic zone' shortly. Yet I have not only stepped out of my comfort zone just within the job but also in my private life.

So that is why I can say in retrospect it is a 2-in-1 goal:

  1. stepping out of my comfort zone in the full variety of occasions life offers
  2. do great in my new job

That splitting helped a lot with spending my energy wisely. It also helps me to recognize and 'materialize' successes.

Goal 3: New information eases replanning (of parts)

One huge contribution to the studies goal was crafting my thesis on Mindful Leadership. I got that done already in spring this year.

The second part to finish my studies, the last exam I had to take, was originally schedules for September. That would have meant working on the topic during the summer term. Then it turned out that my university offers a completely new course starting with the 2017/2018 winter term. It is about health psychology which sounded so appealing to me that I decided to enroll in that course and postpone the exam to the winter term 2018.

Postponing one part of that goal helped me to focus and allowed me to put all my energy in the other goals.

Goal 2: Where the way is the goal itself

It turned out that I had to move just two days after the planned marathon raceday with deliberately little support in carrying stuff. So I thought and decided: no, I will not run 42k and lift 50-ish boxes and other belongings three staircases down and two up just 48 hours after the race. I just won't!
This decision was surprisingly easy. I got asked a couple of times if that hasn't been a tough decision. No, it wasn't!

It got me thinking: why is that?

First of all, the main part of the running goal was clearly the training. Seeing and feeling that I get better bit by bit. I started in December 2016 where I thought that 12k on a weekly basis is muuuuch to run. And I ended up in mid of 2017 running 30k and more each weekend and having fun. Not to count the "small" runs during the week. It evolved to a habit and to kind of a healthy addiction: the more I ran the more I needed it. And in retrospect THAT was the goal. Moving often and having fun. And yes, of course, I want to check if I acually can do the 42k and I also like the raceday atmosphere. So I might look out for another marathon race soon.

Change "by heart"?

So is there something like an ability to change "by heart"? To incorporate change in your life like it is a built-in feature?

Especially the easy change of my running goal and the reactions of people made me think of change in my life. And also the fact that I easily moved a third time within 11 months with my complete household... with friends asking me how I could stand that (this easy). Somehow (or somewhere?) I must have incorporated change in life as a kind of habit. Somehow I can take change to a certain amount "by heart".

If I should draw a mental picture, it would be like me flowing WITH a river. Knowing that I actually COULD invest more energy to swim against the river's flow or get out the water and go somewhere else. And it is a deliberate decision to go with the flow of the river... maybe just for a certain amount of time.

If I look around or remember people I met in my life so far I see parallels: some people seem to take and digest change easier than others.

All in all that leaves me with questions (as promised ;-)).

Does it help us humans to change easier if we do (small) changes more often? And why is that?

How does that resonate with you? And what is on your mind after reading my "braindump"?

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