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A New Year’s Plan: The Power of Small Changes

Cheryl's Musings: A New Year’s Plan: The Power of Small Changes

Cheryl's Musings

How to Thrive on the Writer's Road


A New Year’s Plan: The Power of Small Changes

iStock_000000958239SmallAfter the success of the past two months, when I worked to establish a new exercise habit, I’m ready to embark on a new goal: I want to develop the habit of getting up earlier so that I can write at the start of the day, when I’m fresh and undistracted.

Why do I want to do this? Because although I can write any time of day, I tend to get distracted as soon as the rest of my household starts moving. Sad though it is, an argument over whether a child has to wear a coat to school (10 degrees and snowing? What’s that have to do with wearing a coat?) or (still sadder) even a messy kitchen can sabotage my muse for hours. As the day progresses, my head tends to get cluttered with to-do’s and should’s and don’t-forgets.

First thing in the morning, I’m at my best writing-wise. I want to harness that time and become more productive.

How, you might ask, will I accomplish this new early-writing habit? Especially since I have the unfortunate habit of succumbing to cuddly dogs and burrowing under the comforter when my alarm goes off? I’ve previously mentioned Leo Babauta’s Six Changes method of building new habits: he suggests that habits are easiest to form when 1) you work on one new habit at a time, and 2) you develop that habit through small, incremental changes. When I say small, I mean really small. Really, really, really small. For instance, when working toward the habit of a daily run, your week 1 change might be put on your running shoes every morning and step out the door.

The idea is that if you make the change small enough, it’s more effort not to follow through than just to buck up and make the step. And the next step, and the step after that, until finally you reach your goal.

So: in this new year, my week 1 goal is to get up no later than 7:00 AM (I know—that’s not very early—but we’ve been sleeping late in my house over the holidays) and be at my desk writing no later than 7:30. This morning, I was up on time but didn’t reach my desk until 7:39, but I was writing at a coffee shop today, which added a few minutes to my prep time.

So far, so good. Wish me luck!

:) Cheryl

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At January 5, 2011 at 8:54 PM , Blogger Melissa Romo said...

Boy, can I relate to this Cheryl. I have long lamented one of my main handicaps as a writer: I love to sleep. I go to bed early, sleep late and take naps. A lot doesn't get done during all that sleep! I do get up at 7:00, but that's by force not choice. I have to get two boys up, fed, dressed, brushed, and out to pre-school and kindergarten. By the time that gets done, I'm back home at 8:45, sour from one silly argument after another (and the kitchen looks like a war zone!) I'd like to change that whole routine... not sure how. Good luck with your early rising!

At January 6, 2011 at 8:26 AM , Blogger Pam said...

Good luck with your new plan! I have always found early morning to be the best time for writing--or any kind of work involving serious thought. I know you can do it, because you have the determination and will to make it happen.

At January 6, 2011 at 12:17 PM , Blogger Cheryl Reif said...

Hi Melissa! I hear you on the "sour from one silly argument after another"--it's way too easy for me to get waylaid by a grumpy mood, and way too easy for someone else's grumpy mood to rub off on me. I'm having trouble getting to work by 7:30 now that the kids are back in school, but I have been meeting my getting-up goal! Next week will be a bit earlier....Thanks for the good wishes!

At January 6, 2011 at 12:19 PM , Blogger Cheryl Reif said...

Hi Pam :). I think the trick will be figuring out how to get to bed earlier, too.

I had the bright idea of looking at my book just before going to bed, so my subconscious could work on it overnight...with the result that I can't go to sleep at night! I guess my subconscious is refusing the job and making my waking mind do the work :P

At January 8, 2011 at 10:37 AM , Blogger Susan said...

I think you have a great plan! Good luck!

At January 8, 2011 at 12:29 PM , Blogger Cheryl Reif said...

Thanks, Susie!


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