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Shake Things up to Make Drastic, Healthy Changes

david sedaris when engulfed in flamesDuring session the other day, a client stated that one of the reasons he/she first started counseling was because if you do not do anything differently then nothing will ever change. I am always proud when a client owns such a statement and even more so in this case because I believe this client has never heard that from me, even if it is a foundational belief that I share. I am certainly not the only change professional that holds to this idea and you have probably heard variations of the same theme from several sources. I recently read about an extreme use of this idea in the book When You Are Engulfed by Flames by David Sedaris. David writes that when he wanted to quit smoking, he needed to shake up his schedule and break his routine, so he moved to Japan for a while.

Not all of us have the flexibility or capability to move to Japan to help change a habit, but David does have the right idea. It takes between 21-45 days to change a habit, whether you are trying something new, replacing a habit, or eliminating a habit. Habits are something that are integrated into our routine and can be to the point that they can be done with little or no thought, which is exactly why it may require drastic measures or an entirely new routine to help those old habits die hard! Do something differently; try something new. Here are a few suggestions that you may feel helpful; please comment with other ideas for your fellow readers.

1. Find a new route – Avoid temptations of fast food or other distractions by not having them in your line of site. Drive a new way home; it may take a little bit longer, but it may also extend your life or its quality.

2. Get new input – It is no surprise that I think my client had the right idea in seeking counseling. You can also follow new people on Twitter or add new blogs to your RSS feeds. If you have a friend or associate that you admire, set some time to sit down and pick his or her brain.

3. Do something silly – Instead of heading to the kitchen on the commercial break, stand up and spin around three times or sing the chorus to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious at the top of your lungs. You will be filling in the time and distracting yourself from temptation.

August 2nd, 2009

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(Page 1 of 1, 3 total comments)

Brooke Randolph

Thank you, Steve and Diane

posted Aug 4th, 2009 9:47 am

Diane Gilabert

I love this post! Sometimes the first step is the toughest-once we take it we have hope we can conquer our bad habits and/or adopt a new good one.

I'm not sure about #3, but I agree that sometimes distracting myself if I feel a binge coming on is very effective. Answer an email, empty the dishwasher, fold some laundry whatever.

posted Aug 2nd, 2009 11:21 pm

Steve Parker, M.D.

Thanks for the useful info, Brooke.

I believe that adopting a serious new habit, such as a weight-loss regimen, requires careful preparation. Just prior to the 2009 New Year's Resolution season, I put together a series of blog posts on "preparation to lose weight." It's at this URL for anyone interested:

posted Aug 2nd, 2009 10:13 am


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