To Change your Behavior, First Change your Attitudes
If you want to change your behavior, you may want to first take a look at your beliefs. Changing your attitudes can support the new behaviors you want to acquire.I read this cool post by Leo Babauta about “How I Became an Early Riser,” and it brought up similar points as my posts on, “How to make a major change in your life.” The upshot of both posts is to find support for the new behavior from multiple angles.
The last two weeks I’ve been changing my sleep schedule as well. (Iused to stay up till 12:30 or 1am, even 2am… then sleep till 8:30 or 9. I go to work at 10). I decided to shift it 1.5 hours in one abrupt change, namely go to sleep at 11pm and wake up at 7am.
Now, you may have no intention of changing your sleep schedule, but don’t get hung up on the example. You can apply the same lessons to any change you need to make.My Motivation
The main reason I made this shift was to ensure that I got a full night’s sleep every day. I had been sleep deprived (7 hours most of the time when I need 8 to feel great).
I also wanted to control how I spend my time in the evenings (was watching too much TV), in order to ensure I’d have time to work on my business daily.Change of Attitudes
To pull off this dramatic shift (I’ve never gotten up at 7am in my adult life, unless I had to got to the airport or something), I had to change a couple of long-held attitudes:
I had always that that it was cool to stay up late. People always seemed to be amazed when I told them that I had stayed up till 2am on a weeknight, or 6am on a Saturday night.
I always thought that getting up early was for suckers. Who gets up really early? Truck drivers, paperboys, store managers who have to unlock the front door, construction workers… Employees have to do things (like get up early or wear a tie) that they don’t really want to do. I always thought I was above that, because I’m an entrepreneur.Cool to stay up late: Now, instead, I see that I was mostly wasting all that extra time at night (watching TV).
I think it’s great that I’m spending 45 minutes to 1 hour per night reading before I fall asleep. I’m pleased that I’m now giving my body the amount of sleep that it needs (and it feels really good). Stopping my TV viewing or Internet browsing at 9:45 seems super-early, compared to my previous habit, but I look forward to reading soon, I tell myself that getting enough sleep will make tomorrow feel good, and I know that sticking to my schedule will create a period of time that I can work on my business, before going to work in the morning.
Thinking about these things makes it important and intelligent to stick to my schedule (and really turn off the TV at 9:45). It imbues my new schedule with a meaning (meanings) that is valuable to me.Suckers get up early: I’m working on my business for about 1 hour and 15 minutes in the morning before work, so getting up early is not for my job, but for my own business. This gives the day a new feeling: instead of planning to work on my business at night, after work, and then struggling –sometimes– with procrastination and laziness… now I leave home with some accomplishment already under my belt. That feels great.
I can also feel good about keeping this schedule, because it’s my choice: I’m not being forced to wake up early for a boss. Obviously autonomy is going to be a value for someone who has their own business and wants to be self-employed.
If you’ve tried to make a change in the past and failed (and who hasn’t?), maybe take a moment to reflect on the attitudes you had that kept your habitual behaviors in place. What would you have to believe differently in order to act differently.