Disciplines are Hard. Habits are Easy.

I am loath to post a “New Year’s Resolution” article. Instead, I want to give you something to consider for making any type of change easier.

Change Management Arc

As a time management coach, it is my job to help people change the way they manage their day. Change is hard because it forces us to move from a mindless state of consciousness to a mindful one before returning to another mindless one.

Here are two working definitions for Habit and Discipline:

  • Habit = Mindless = We don’t consider them, we just do them = They are comfortable and comforting = Easy.
  • Discipline = Mindful = We are conscious of the effort = They are uncomfortable = Hard.

Consider now the change management arc: we want to move from one hard-coded behavior (habit) to another hard-coded behavior (habit). We must exert conscious effort (discipline) to accomplish this goal. In fact, we need to apply discipline for as long as it takes to “break” the old habit and “form” the new habit. Though we feel uncomfortable during the discipline stage, we reach a comfort level again once the new habit is formed.

The Surprise Inside of the Cracker Jack Box

The really good news is that the discipline phase is relatively short! At the beginning of the journey, we leave our comfort zone and pass through an uncomfortable period until we reach our new comfort zone. How long the journey takes depends on the how big the change is, but the fundamental truth is that the discipline period will always be shorter than either habit’s!

More Than Just A Tip

This missive doesn’t deliver a list of tips and tricks. It delivers a way of looking at change that is far more valuable. The reason is that tips and tricks only work when the construct for change is well understood and embraced.

Good luck in 2013 with all your efforts!

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