The Coronavirus has kept us all confined to our houses for a period of time, and whilst some are itching to get out and about once more, to reclaim their regular daily lives and get ‘back to normal’, there are others who would rather not. Do we really want to go back to our lives exactly as they were before the lockdown?
An enforced period of isolation is a good time for forming new habits and making positive changes in our lives, and it takes time for these changes to solidify and become habit. If we were to suddenly be allowed to return to our lives as they were before, these positive changes would be lost. We need this time.
In 1960 American cosmetic surgeon Maxwell Maltz wrote a book called “Psycho-Cybernetics: A New Way to Get More Living out of Life”, a ground-breaking piece of work for its time. There are two amazing pieces of thought and guidance within:
- He believed that self-image is the cornerstone of all the changes that take place in a person, and that people must have an accurate and positive view of themselves before setting goals.
- He also concluded that it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a new habit.
Science and research has built upon his observations over the past sixty years, both reinforcing and adding to his ideas.
In recent years Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, has concluded that it can take anywhere between 18 days and 254 days for a person to form a new habit, depending upon the person. The average person will take around 66 days.
During this summer of 2020 we are all facing moments of unavoidable introspection. In our usual day to day lives we often bemoan never having time to pause and take stock, particularly to observe ourselves as a person, in detail, warts and all. So now we have that opportunity; what kind of person are you? What do you perceive as your self-image? Is it honest and accurate? And can you stay resolute for 66 days in order to improve yourself?
So where to start?
Establish who you are and what you would like to be. Debate the ideas you’ve had over the years of things you would like to be able to do, or achieve. For instance have you always wished you could:
- Be heathier. Exercise more. Eat well.
- Write a book. Learn a language. Play an instrument. Create art.
- Read a particular novel. Watch a certain series of films. Develop new tastes in music.
- Improve mood. Practice kindness and patience.
The next step is to decide upon a new course of action and to commit to it. You don’t have to be perfect, we all have our off days so don’t judge yourself if you fall one day. Just get up and keep at it. Every day. Know that you can do this.
For some a mantra or affirmation helps. Tell yourself every night what you are going to keep up with the next day. Say it every morning as you get up. Say it after you have completed your task.
Time passes. It’s inevitable, and before too life normal life will try and get in the way of your progress, so try and see yourself in the coming months still achieving your small day to day goal. Picture yourself down the road, improving in your chosen course.
It may take a couple of months, it may take a year, but sooner or later your will have achieved a new aspect to your life, something now ingrained, that better’s you as a person, and has become a true part of yourself.
Until then, one day at a time, one thought at a time, and one positive change to commit to. Then, as the weeks pass and we find our lives opening up into the new-normal, there will be a new you to embrace it.