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Numerous books have been books written about developing new habits that would say it takes anywhere between 7 to 21 days. Recently, more and more experts are revising the number moving it closer to about 30 days. Muslims take on the practice of fasting, which lasts about 30 days. And truthfully, developing any new skill takes conscious effort over a period of time, so why would your goal be any different, right? Of course, the specific number of days depends on the habit and the person. However, the main thing to remember is that the point of such practice isn’t just to abstain but to develop that self-control and form other new good habits in the process.
The truth is that habits are formed whether we want them or not. Doing something is as much of forming a habit as not doing anything at all – Which is why ‘taking a break from your diet’ is essentially starting a new habit of diet. A good start to the change process is to become aware of how a habit feels as you do them or even think about them. This awareness of the sensation or picture you hold as think about them – How it looks, sounds, feel, smell, or even taste…It determines what you focus on. So if you think about your diet being a chore or pain, you focus on the pain. Conversely, perceiving it as a motivating challenge or exciting step forward drives new energy and direction towards your goal. So think about what you’re thinking about because before your new habit can even start, it make sense to know where you are before changing anything. In this respect, the Muslim practice of fasting during Ramadan is accompanied by prayers to help focus the mind to strengthen self-control. It’s a simple but powerful way to stay supercharged and focused on your intended outcome.
Changing a habit starts with a clear intention. Bear in mind, this is not to be confused with goals or outcomes. Intention sets the state to be while working towards your goal. It’s a daily practice we do that shapes the way we focus our mind as we work towards accomplishing the day’s tasks. For example, being relaxed yet playful is a useful intention to set if your goal is to make new friends and socialize. In other words, an intention propels you towards a goal. It’s important to have that clear before you set off on developing your new habits. This also helps you become more aware about what else this habit will mean – Waking up early means you would need to develop a habit of sleeping early. Similarly, losing weight means committing to make time to exercise and eat differently.
Once we take that step to become aware of our thoughts and feelings, that we are clear what we do about it, then it’s about the consistency. Imagine going through the next 30 days just enjoy the effort committing to your word. This completely rewires your neurology and reprograms the way you remember and associate pleasure with change! At the end of which, you’ll remember clearly how much fun you had making a change for yourself. Now, isn’t that totally different from how you may have thought about experiencing changes before?
If you want that final bit of motivation to totally convince you, watch Matt Cutts’ inspirational and short TED Talk about the changes he’s set for himself doing something new for 30 days. The inspiring thing isn’t just the amount of accomplishments he’s ticked off, but rather the new discipline he developed for his mind and body – To set goals and stick to them consistently. In a year, he’s effectively re-programmed his mind to think and behave differently. In my opinion, that’s a great way to live ‘in the present’ as you move towards the future.
So what will you do or be like differently in the next 30 days?
To our Muslim Readers, have a safe and productive Ramadan.
For other useful tips and other life changing ideas, please read our other blogs and learn the #AuthenticNLP™ with NaviGo® NLP Center.