Yesterday marked the halfway point of my 30 in 30 writing assignment. I began it as a way to bring more structure and discipline to my day and as a way to reconnect with my blog after neglecting it for much of the month of April. So far my assignment has reinforced my desire to write and my love of my blog, and I am right on track with what I was hoping to achieve. But I have recently become aware of a benefit of my assignment that I had not consciously intended.
Friday I attended an introduction to meditation class at The Chopra Center. The instructor guided us through the history and benefits of meditation and encouraged us to make it a daily practice. She then went into a discussion of what it takes to make a new habit and explained that it takes somewhere between 21-40 days to turn a practice into a habit.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Habit (psychology), an acquired pattern of behavior that often occurs automatically. Habits are routines of behavior that are repeated regularly, tend to occur subconsciously, without directly thinking consciously about them. Habitual behavior sometimes goes unnoticed in persons exhibiting them, because it is often unnecessary to engage in self-analysis when undertaking in routine tasks.
When the instructor explained the timeframe necessary to turn a practice into a habit it brought my thoughts immediately to my assignment. Without being conscious of it, I have instinctively set my assignment within the guidelines of how long it would take to make daily writing habitual rather than a forced behavior. My desire is to write daily, but it has not been habitual and it has often felt like a task rather than a wanted behavior. Usually it is my battle with Fibromyalgia that keeps me from sitting down at my desk to write. But if I can turn writing into a daily habit, like drinking a gallon of water, I will be more likely to follow through, regardless of how I am feeling. It is not as though I have discovered the wheel mind you. Many people are aware of this benchmark, and use 30 day trials as personal growth tools. If you would like to read some interesting examples, Steve Pavlina has written a blog post chronicling several of his own 30 day trials and explaining better than I the benefits of making something habitual.
Once my assignment is complete I am confident that daily writing will be a habit and not a practice. I am also excited about the potential of other 30 day personal growth experiments. Meditation is definitely on my idea list, but the possibilities and potential are endless. Check back with me on day thirty to read a final assessment of this assignment and find out what my next 30 day trial will be.