Whether I'm wanting to change a habit, start a project or make a plan I have an unhelpful, self sabotaging tendency to think I ought to start with HUGE steps. "I need to walk five miles by Tuesday day." "I must paint every day." "I must cut out all carbs and sugar." This tendency usually only manifests itself in the initial thinking stage. When I actually get going, I either fail and THEN re-size the steps, procrastinate, or change the whole thing.
Research shows that taking small steps works best. "Moderation." If you want to memorize the Constitution, start with the preamble rather than with the whole thing. (The Constitution contains 4,543 words. Including the 27 amendments, it contains 7,591 words.)
To find the best tendency for yourself, you need to know yourself. Do you need to see the big picture ? Or do you need to know the details first? What if there is more than one way to look at your habit, project or plan?
If you follow your plan, what will it get you? Is it really worth the trouble TO YOU?
I remember studying what helps alcoholics stop drinking. Rather than focus on the negatives, like deprivation, life problems that seem even bigger when sober, they could focus on changing "easier" habits. How about changing the habits that supported the drinking? Where would they hang out in their free time? (Not a bar!) Who would they hang out with? (not Drunk Uncle who'd always buy another round.)
Thinking this way is part of contemplating making the desired big change without setting yourself up for failure with a too-big to succeed plan..James Prochaska and his cohort Carlo DiClemente famously developed a model of the change process.
As you can see, there's a fair amount of thinking before doing anything different! Note the assumption that you won't make a permanent or easy change the first time. You might have to practice the action and repeat and repeat.
“I hated every minute of training,
but I said, ‘Don’t quit.
Suffer now and live the rest of your life
as a champion.’” –
There's lots of research on developing helpful habits. And lots of research on stopping destructive ones. I have a friend who is so afraid of anything called addiction, he has avoided a lot of the facts and gotten trapped by wrong thinking and is generally immobilized. Our society has made addiction something to be ashamed of. (Addiction is a biological PROCESS that has very little to do with will power or character. It is much more about a complicated cacophony of enzymes, genetics and personal history.)Fear and shame are paralyzing. (Don't judge your fear, though, it may well indicate how much is at stake.)
Facts clarify the situation!
“If you hear a voice within you say,
‘you cannot paint’,
then by all means paint
and that voice will be silenced.”
— Vincent Van Gogh