Myth: Old Habits Die Hard

One year and nine months ago I decided to put my foot down. Slam it, stomp it, smush it down hard. I quit drinking.

It wasn’t some great epiphany, but rather, the result of several years of watching my life pass by me in real time. The song Sunshine by Atmosphere comes to mind: Ain’t no way to explain or say how painful the hangover was today…The sunlight hit me dead in the eye, like it’s mad I gave half the day to last night. It was as if I was living the same morning over and over and over again (because I was).

June 15th, 2012. The day wasn’t about pity, regret, self realization or growth. It wasn’t an emotional day. It wasn’t an overly thoughtful day. It was a slam it, stomp it, get-shit-done kind of day. Take life by the private parts kind of day. It was time to break the pattern. I woke up, made an assertive decision, and stuck to it.

1 year and 9 months ago, I broke my first big habit.

1 year and 8 months ago, I went from a life of sleeping in to waking up before sunrise.

7 months ago, I quit smoking.

6 months ago, I bought a pair of running shoes.

5 months ago, I ran my first 10k.

This is the abbreviated list of all the habits I’ve broken and formed over the past year and a half. I also stopped drinking soda, completely reformed my diet and starting hugging. Significant leaps that all started with a simple choice.

The secret to breaking old habits or forming new habits is as easy as making a decision. That’s it, folks. All you need to do is decide you want to eliminate something, and it’s gone. Poof.

“I attribute my success to ambiguity,” said no ex smoker ever. All smokers have the ability to quit, but most set themselves up for failure because they’re unsure of their decision from the beginning.

I enjoy the “I’m not a morning person” excuse. The average anti-morning person would say there’s no way they would ever become a morning person. Naturally, I am not a morning person. I don’t wake up without an alarm, my eyes are usually swollen shut when I get out of bed, and I don’t like to talk to anyone for  the first two hours of my day. But I wake up at 5:30 a.m. seven days a week. I formed the habit of waking up early the same way I quit drinking: I made the decision to change.

It’s not enough to want or wish. The desire is the prerequisite. The change comes when you choose it.

“Old habits die hard” is a terrible saying. “Breaking and forming habits is as easy as making a decision” is not as charming, but much more effective.

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