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When the desire to change fades

Uncategorized Jan 22, 2020

Right now you are probably feeling like you want things to be different. Maybe a little different, maybe a lot. Maybe at home, maybe at work.

That’s a precious feeling because it can motivate you to seek change.

And now is a perfect time because of the “fresh-start effect”. Researchers Dai, Milkman and Riis (2014, PDF) found students were more likely to adopt new behaviours at the start of a week, month or semester. Such temporal landmarks can help us delineate “old me” from “new me”.

But that tension you feel is also tenuous. Your appetite for change will dissipate once you get sucked back into routine. Soon you’ll be thinking: “maybe life isn’t too bad? Maybe now isn’t the time? Maybe I should wait?”

And before you know it, it’s December and another year has gone by.

You have an entirely free day coming up

To stop yourself slipping back into old patterns, here’s my suggestion. This year we have been gifted 1 whole extra day.

Yes, as a leap year we have 366 days rather than 365 in the calendar. And for most of us it is not a normal working day.

Saturday 29th of February.

What are you going to do with this day that can help you make the changes to your life you want to see?

You can use this special day in two ways.

1. Time block

From now to 29 February you have around 5 weeks. That is plenty of time to start a new habit, even something you may only do once a week (like going to the gym). Just do something 5 times before the 29 February and see how you feel then. Don’t require yourself to commit forever, just commit for 5 weeks.


2. Magical day

Use the 29th of February to do something you would not normally do. Focus on you.

Carve out some time to reflect on what changes you were thinking about in January that fizzled. Go for a walk, grab a coffee...whatever will make this pleasant for you.

Grab a piece of paper and pen and give yourself 57 minutes to dream, plan and reignite your desire to do what you wanted to do.

Why 57 minutes? Breaking conventions (like defaulting to an hour) can help prime you to think in a different way more generally. If you have or need more time, great! Use whatever suits you. Don’t let the 29th February slip by without making the most of it.


Image created by Bri Williams based on picture of flat tyre from https://pixabay.com/photos/flat-tire-vehicle-wear-street-2339687/


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