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This week I wanted to share with you some wisdom from Darren Hardy’s book The Compound Effect.  One thing I like about Darren Hardy is that his mentor was Jim Rohn who we talked about two weeks ago and you can really feel Jim’s spirit come through in Darren’s writing.  Darren puts his own spin on the same work hard message and I think he does an excellent job of breaking things down so that they’re so simple, anyone can do it!

I read this book in maybe 2 or 3 days.  It’s a short book but jam packed with good information.  Darren paints such a clear picture of how making small choices over time, either good or bad, can have a huge impact on your life down the road.  He talks about three men: one who decides he wants to make slightly better choices in his eating and exercise habits, one guys who doesn’t change his habits at all and a third who makes slightly worse eating an exercise habits.   Related to these three guys, the first quote I wanted to share is this:

“At the end of ten months, we still can’t see noticeable changes in any of their lives.  It’s not until we get to the end of the eighteenth month that the slightest differences are measurable in these three friends’ appearances.” Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect

What really struck me about this example is just how LONG ten months is!  And really, 18 months is a very long time to someone like me who wants everything done yesterday.  To think that a life change would really take that long was surprising to me.  And now that I think about it, of course big life changes take a long time but so often we’re sold this idea that “you can establish a new habit in 21 or 30 days!”

And while this may be true for small habits, it seems that we need to stay motivated for a much longer time if we want to change some big areas of our life.  I think this probably relates to money, weight, exercise, marriage, parenting etc.

This gave me great hope though!  Now, instead of thinking I’m a big failure since I can’t seem to make thing stick by trying them out for just one month, I’m starting to take a much longer range approach to my goals.  I’m starting to tell myself about the life I want in 18 months.  I’m looking out on the horizon and knowing that even if I get frustrated today or this week, I’m playing for the long game here.

In Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning (Before 8AM)
, he talks about the three phases of establishing a new habit.  The first is unbearable, the second is uncomfortable and the last is unstoppable.  I loved hearing this!  It was so nice for someone to say, out loud, the first phase is UNBEARABLE.  And now, knowing this, it’s helped me to push through this phase and to just call it for what it is, the first phase of my establishing a new habit.

This brings me to the second quote I wanted to talk about.  Darren asks people to make a list of their daily habits and to identify which ones are NOT helping you to become your best self.  I think it’s pretty obvious which ones those are.  And here’s what he has to say about them:

“Look again at your list of bad habits. How can you alter them so they’re not as harmful? Can you replace them with healthier habits or drop-kick them altogether?” Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect

I have tried to erase a lot of bad habits in my life and I always find that I am much more successful when I replace a bad habit, then when I simply try to stop doing it.  We often need to put something in that hole we’ve just created.  Now some substitutes are easier than others.  For example, drinking tea instead of coffee is an obvious substitution.  Reading a book instead of watching TV is a harder substitution but still a clear one.

I also find that substituting spiritual practices for bad habits has been helpful to me.  It certainly hasn’t been easy.  Praying my rosary instead of watching TV during nap time is certainly not what my natural inclination is but I have come to love this new habit instead.  That’s what’s amazing about using Catholic tools.  They give you special grace that you’re not expecting so you can continue to use them!