The How of Habits

December 16, 2010 § 2 Comments

“Hi Coach, I recalled that in one of our previous discussions, you mentioned that my lifestyle should develop my expertise,” Jake said.

“Yes I did.”

“And that I should focus on building habits that contribute to that,” Jake said.  “My question is, how do I build those habits?”

“Have you identified the habits that can help you become one of the best at what you do?” I asked.

“Well I thought I should develop different habits such as reading, listening, studying, writing, speaking, saving, investing, sleeping well, and more,” Jake said.  “But I learned that there are bad habits that I had to change like watching too much TV and eating a lot of junk food.”

“Do not get so frustrated,” I said.  “It is a good step that you know what must be changed. And that you are willing.”

“I am not sure,” Jake said.  “If I were willing I should have made significant changes already.”

“Do not be too hard on yourself,” I said.  “Compared to others, you are better off. Some do not even care.”

“Okay, I’ll be calm,” Jake said.  “But how do I develop good habits and get rid of bad ones.”

“Jake, how do you eat an elephant?” I asked.

“I can’t eat an elephant.  What do you mean?” Jake asked.

“It’s a hypothetical question.  Answer it.”

“It’s too big!” Jake replied.

“Precisely,” I said.  “You cannot eat it all at once because it is too big.  So how do you eat it?”

“Piece by piece.”  He said as he gently went back to sit.

“You cannot change all the bad habits at one time,” I said. “Replace bad habits by new ones.  One at a time.”

“One at a time,” he repeated.

“How long does it take to develop a habit?” I asked.

“I read somewhere that it is around 21 days,” Jake said.

“Yes, 3 weeks seems to be the accepted number,” I said.  “But that number is not the same for all individuals so do not get frustrated.  Just keep it up.”

“Alright.  What do you suggest I do next?”

“One at a time,” I said.  “Cut your cable to save time and money.”


“I thought you wanted some changes,” I said. “By doing one thing, you can affect change on other things.”

“Okay, I’ll do it,” Jake said.  “And I will use the freed up time to read and write more.”

“The few extra hours everyday channeled to developing your skills will be a major factor for your growth,” I said.  “Give me your word that you will not revive your cable TV subscription within one month.”

“You have my word.”

“Good,” I said. “What will you write about?”

“Maybe make notes on speech styles or lecture styles,” Jake said.

“Good.  Get out of the house at night and look for evening seminars or classes,” I said.  “Commit to blog about it daily so you are forced to write.”

“Thanks for the session coach,” Jake said.  “I needed that extra push.  I’ll do what you say.”

“See you next week Jake,” I said.  “I expect some changes.”

“Yup, I’ll stop the cable TV subscription.” Jake smiled as he left.

© Eduardo R. Pilapil Jr. 2010




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