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A New Year’s Plan: The Power of Small Changes

The Rich Writer: A New Year’s Plan: The Power of Small Changes

The Rich Writer

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A New Year’s Plan: The Power of Small Changes

iStock_000000958239SmallAfter the success of the past two months, when I worked to establish a new exercise habit, I’m ready to embark on a new goal: I want to develop the habit of getting up earlier so that I can write at the start of the day, when I’m fresh and undistracted.

Why do I want to do this? Because although I can write any time of day, I tend to get distracted as soon as the rest of my household starts moving. Sad though it is, an argument over whether a child has to wear a coat to school (10 degrees and snowing? What’s that have to do with wearing a coat?) or (still sadder) even a messy kitchen can sabotage my muse for hours. As the day progresses, my head tends to get cluttered with to-do’s and should’s and don’t-forgets.

First thing in the morning, I’m at my best writing-wise. I want to harness that time and become more productive.

How, you might ask, will I accomplish this new early-writing habit? Especially since I have the unfortunate habit of succumbing to cuddly dogs and burrowing under the comforter when my alarm goes off? I’ve previously mentioned Leo Babauta’s Six Changes method of building new habits: he suggests that habits are easiest to form when 1) you work on one new habit at a time, and 2) you develop that habit through small, incremental changes. When I say small, I mean really small. Really, really, really small. For instance, when working toward the habit of a daily run, your week 1 change might be put on your running shoes every morning and step out the door.

The idea is that if you make the change small enough, it’s more effort not to follow through than just to buck up and make the step. And the next step, and the step after that, until finally you reach your goal.

So: in this new year, my week 1 goal is to get up no later than 7:00 AM (I know—that’s not very early—but we’ve been sleeping late in my house over the holidays) and be at my desk writing no later than 7:30. This morning, I was up on time but didn’t reach my desk until 7:39, but I was writing at a coffee shop today, which added a few minutes to my prep time.

So far, so good. Wish me luck!

:) Cheryl

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