It takes 66 days to make a habit according to research at the University College of London. Two years ago I attended a writing residency in Switzerland. I was working on a new book and found it impossible to write every day and run my business.
I came back to Australia and decided this needed to change if I was ever going to finish my second novel. So I wrote for an hour a day for 66 days. By the end, I’d formed a habit – when a new behaviour becomes automatic – and 18 months later the manuscript is being submitted to publishers.
Now, I’ve set myself a new 66 day challenge: to spend an hour a day doing something for the planet. That sounds a bit vague, and it is. The planet needs a lot of attention right now and it’s hard to know where to start. But I believe that No One is too Small to Make a Difference (this tiny book by Greta Thunberg is currently Waterstone’s most popular UK title of 2020).
My one hour can become several hours. To keep myself motivated I mark off each day on my calendar (above). More ticks – or in my case, love hearts – equals more hours.
On the weekend it includes gardening (trying to create a food forest in urban Sydney), researching how to install solar panels on our house, going to farmers’ markets. During the week I write, research, meet with B corporations, and speak to businesses already addressing climate change to help them amplify their message. If enough people who are standing in the future can get their share of the voice amplified it can bring the rest of us along with them. I’m learning from people who know a lot more about this than I do. I’m a late starter.
This wasn’t the post I intended for this week but it seems the most urgent. Bush fire smoke hangs over Sydney and 120+ fires are burning across New South Wales. The COP25 Summit is being held in Madrid. UN head Antonio Guterres calls for hope over ‘surrender’ and is urging governments to stop sleepwalking.
The stories we tell ourselves
At times like these it’s vital to be aware of what stories we tell ourselves, our teams, our families. What stories we believe we can change, and what seem so fixed that they are etched in stone.
No story, however permanent it seems, or how often it is repeated, is fixed. But sometimes we need to reboot. To rewire our inner narrative. To refresh. That can take time, but 66 days is not long to create a new habit.
Thoughts? How do you change your thinking to change your world?