Choosing a Habit

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”  ― Robert Frost

Part of the January ritual that society seems to have developed is this concept of New Year’s resolutions and the concept that we should develop new habits. i wondered where it originated and a thirty-second view of Wikipedia came up with some of the origins. They include:

  • Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debt.
  • The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.
  • In the Medieval era, the knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry
  • At watch night services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions

It made me realise that the concept of making promises is almost as old as creation. And as as old, people have probably tried to keep the promises and then broken them. Sunday is always that time of the week when I reflect, write and catch up on blogs, videos and podcasts. One of my favorite people I follow is James Tripp. He is currently on an extended world tour with his family and published a youtube podcast. The link to it is at the bottom of this article. Anyway, he was talking about “Choosing Vs Yielding”.

This made me realise that the key to creating a habit, keeping a promise and maintaining your New Year’s resolution is all about choosing to make that habit stick. I have in the past made a conscious agreement with myself that Mindfulness is an important part of my life. If it is as important to me as the rest of my life, then it should be as central to my daily life as possible, That is why, every weekday morning, I get up at 5:30am to practice. Why on earth 5:30? Well, if like me, you have to get up and go to work and that involves travel, then you know that for most of us, the hour’s drive, commute, cycle or train journey and you need to be at work for 8:30, then early starts are the key. So for me, to be able to practice 30 minutes of mindful movement and meditation every day, I need to be up early.

The start was hard. I got tired and ratty. The opposite of what I wanted to achieve, but, I was making that choice. After about a month, the effort got less, the idea became more unconscious and after about two months, it was a habit. Now I can do it or not and I do not feel guilty if I miss a day. I just accept and practice the following day.

Choice is one of the most powerful concepts. You choose to do something. To be someone. Moment by moment, day by day. Every day. We all make choices. Sometimes good ones. Sometimes not so good ones. For me, I made the decision and made the effort. Even if I missed a day, I did not remonstrate with myself, but accepted that sometimes, events meant I could not do it.  

James, mentions a riddle about frogs on logs. I came across it when I was doing a major change programme for an international company, changing the complete Services Delivery organisation for Europe. The book was given to each of us, as part of the Management of Change programme we were leading. I do recommend the book to read if you are going through major change at work. Though the bok is quite old, a lot of the premise and concepts are still valid. The riddle goes like this……

A riddle:

Five frogs are sitting on a log.

Four decide to jump off. How many are left?

Answer: Five


Because there’s a difference between deciding and doing.

Five Frogs on a Log: A CEO’s Field Guide to Accelerating the Transition in Mergers, Acquisitions And Gut Wrenching Change by Mark L. Feldman, Michael F. Spratt


I leave you with the following quote. It is from one of my favorite authors and books:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.

‘I don’t much care where -‘ said Alice.

‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

‘- so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.

‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.”

Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland


Choosing Vs Yielding – A Dynamic Transformative Meditation by James Tripp

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