When I was doing errands yesterday, I did something ground breaking. I parked by a handicap spot.
Now, for most people, that would not be ground breaking news. It certainly wouldn’t be something to write a blog about. But, for me, that is a pretty big deal.
My first car was a jalopy. I got into an accident less than a month after getting my license. I would drive that thing for 7 years with only one working door and one side mirror. Whenever I’d park, I’d always pick a spot far away from everyone else and pull through. I was always paranoid that someone would park too close to my one working door (which opened wide and needed extra room). Rightly so, as people still would park next to my door.
I’d replace that car with one that had TWO working doors, but the power steering would not always work right away. So, I still needed room to get out of my spot.
Last year, I made a move into adulthood and bought myself a new car. It’s shiny, blue, and has FOUR working doors. Count them, FOUR DOORS!!! And it has power steering that works ALL THE TIME!
It’s been 13 months now and I’m still parking in tumbleweed territory. Why? I certainly don’t need to anymore.
Simple. It’s habit.
I started parking that way for a reason. Then, I kept doing that because that’s what I do. I did even when the reason no longer existed.
How many things do we do simply because that’s what we always do? For those of us who are seeking change in our lives, it is a fact that our habits aren’t working for us.
Breaking habits is hard. First, you have to be aware that you are even doing something. There are a hidden set of rules we have created in our lives by habits. I naturally ignored spots close to the store because they didn’t fit into the process I had created for picking a spot.
Then, yesterday, I thought “Why don’t I just park here?” I had no concrete reason to not park there. Only vague feelings of it not being right.
Trying new things is a skill. It’s a muscle that you haven’t used much. It takes practice and it won’t come naturally at first.
One of the reasons creating change in our lives is so difficult is because we haven’t developed this skill. We haven’t found the map of the hidden rules of habit.
If you are having trouble changing yourself, start smaller. Question something you have always done. Why are you doing it? Do you need to do it that way?
Try doing something small differently. Park in a different spot. Take a different route to work. Do your morning routine in a different order.
Practice with small changes in your life so that you can be skilled enough to make the big ones.
Achievements come in all sizes and all of them help you to succeed. Freeing yourself from unnecessary habits can be very liberating. Learning what barriers are of your own creation is a giant step into reaching your goals.
What will you do different today?