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Ideation Process / Episode Four: Cementing Habit

I can see clearly now.

As stated previously, ideas in action rarely stay the same. They take shape. They evolve. We tweak them into being. And as the idea becomes a daily thing, something very interesting happens. We begin to see that it’s not only do-able, it begins to solidify as part of a routine. That’s what cementing habit means – becoming so fully engrained, we cannot NOT do whatever it is. It’s transformed from a thing we have to do to a thing we get to do because it’s who we are.

Habits take time. 

Think of something you do now; that at one time seemed unachievable or difficult to get going. Sobriety for me was that thing. I never, ever thought I would get past the pain and insanity that was drinking alcohol. I mean it was a daily reality. Drinking had moved from enjoyment, to a crutch, and then into an insatiable, physiological nightmare. I had to drink to drink. It sucked.

The pivot point for me was being sick and tired of being sick and tired. I had reached my point of desperation. Then, I started a program. 12-steps. A sponsor. Meetings every day…sometimes twice a day. Hearing from others what sobriety can look like. In those meetings, I realized, I wasn’t so isolated. That I wasn’t the only one who struggled with this addiction. Hearing their stories made what I was going through real and I had found a herd to be part of. Then came the work. Each day. Each hour actually, of consciously committing myself to not take a drink. And in time, I stopped. And it’s been 9 years.

I’m still an addict. I am now choosing to lead a life without alcohol. The habit stuck, and I have to work at it every day. I will always remember my sponsor saying at my beginning, “You’re probably not going to get this by Thursday.” He was giving me grace, and letting me know, this will take some time.

Habits require daily investment.

What does it take for something to matter more than the effort we put forth? I found two things as incredibly important catalysts for my transformation. One has to do with wanting my desired vision more than the effort I need to engage every day. I have to want it so much, the pain of change, or time commitment, or degree to which I dive in, that no matter what, I will do it. It’s the whole ‘how bad’ do I want this to be part of what I do every day.

The second is seemingly small, although, I have found it monumentally huge. I have to identify with what I am trying to achieve as part of who I am. Call it complete ownership. Rather than saying “I will no longer drink”, I had to pivot into identifying as someone who does not drink. I manifested it into my very being. “I am a person who no longer drinks alcohol, and decide today, by the grace of God, to be a sober person.”

Then there are the process elements of making it a habit, like scheduling it – actually writing it down. Sticking with it – especially when there are forces that would take you off point. Monitoring it – making note, journaling, and even some form of measurement to gauge time and effectiveness. Fine-tuning it – by making an intentional assessment of the behaviors that keep you focused. Feeding it – which is investing in it and keeping it top of mind every single day, and never letting it just stay idle. And celebrating it – every time you do it, make it a moment of congratulations, gratitude and fulfillment.

When Will You Know?

I remember being asked by a store leader, “When will I know when it’s a habit?” You’ll know when you stop thinking about it being part of your routine. It just becomes what you do…without prompting, reservation, limit, or fail.

If you have a crazy day, it doesn’t change. Or if your environment is different than normal, it doesn’t change. If you feel under the weather, it doesn’t change. If you crush your targets, it doesn’t change. If everything you are working on is upside down and sideways, it doesn’t change. When the urge to not do it is at a threshold point, it doesn’t change. It stops being something you have to plan or have to react to, and it becomes something you just do. You become, in a way, devoted to it. Then you’ll know.

Final thoughts.

Not every idea is worth our time and energy. If anything, even the really bad ones can teach us what not to do. Some ideas change a little. They can impact things that don’t really enhance us or change the quality in our per view. In a way, a good idea for someone else’s benefit. Some though, can change our life. They require us to not just think them, but also fully engage in them. To give them the energy and enthusiasm to get after it. As hard as they may be to get going, they can change the trajectory of our lives…one day at a time.

Ideation is a process. It a series of realizations that take a light bulb moment and turn into something that can make us or others better. It won’t get done because we want it or wish it. No, that’s a dream. It requires a plan, and more than that, it requires a commitment to make it happen. It requires each of us to believe, so wholeheartedly, that our idea is worth doing. And not doing it is not an option. Unless, in my case, it’s about drinking. Yeah, not doing that.

Read all previous entries for the Ideation Process here!

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