In this article I’m going to swerve one of the two main principles of Lent, and sidestep the other one completely, to end up with a powerful idea…
Lent is an an idea that stems from religion, running for the 40 days before Easter not including Sundays. However, the point I’m making in this article is not about religion in any way – it works whether you are religious or not, so as I said, I’m going to sidestep that origin of Lent.
I did say I was going to swerve the other main principle, and that’s the one about giving something up. In 2017, Lent starts on March 1st, and runs until April 13th. The main thrust of Lent is to give up something, and usually this will be something we know is bad for us. In my case, that could be chocolate, for example.
Long time readers of mine will know of my raging chocoholicism, and giving it up for 40 days won’t do me any harm. In fact, it would do me good, so why would I want to swerve this idea? Surely as someone who rattles on about self improvement and personal development, giving up bad things is a good idea, right? Why would I swerve this idea..?
I did say I was *swerving* the idea and that’s the key word. I’m not *dismissing* the idea. Oh no, not dismissing it at all.
Giving up bad things? Of course that’s a good idea! In fact doing it for 40 days works wonderfully, for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, it’s difficult. That’s the the first good reason, because if we take on the difficulty of sticking to something for 40 days, particularly if it’s something we won’t enjoy, like giving up something we enjoy but know is bad for us, then we get a full on slap-in-the-face, real world reminder, that achieving things can be hard work, and that we should embrace this hard work more often.
We should embrace it for what it brings us long term. Sometimes we need a challenge, or an outside event, to remind us of this, and if we take it on, we can act on the reminder we get about taking pro-active action.
Action in line with intention is powerful, powerful enough to transform your life.
The second reason that giving up something bad for 40 days is a good thing, is that it will create a new habit. Habits are hard to break, because a habit by definition is an internal model in our brain that we tend to accept as ‘fixed’, if we even consider it at all.
When it comes to breaking habits, I prefer to think of it less as breaking a habit, and more of ‘replacing’ it with a different one.
Brain science has various views about how long this takes, some say over 30 days, some say over 60, so 40 days is somewhere in the middle, and that works just fine. If you do something consistently for 40 days, and it’s the opposite of what you normally do, then you are changing habits.
Once again, this action in line with intention is powerful.
So, all well and good – health benefits, and mind benefits all wrapped up in a nifty 40 day package – what’s wrong with that?
There’s nothing wrong with it! Here’s the swerve though, or the twist…
Giving up something bad for 40 days is great, but how about starting something good!
March 1st, 2017. That happens to be the start of Lent for this year, but as it’s also 2 months into the year, why not look at what you wanted to achieve in 2017.
How has it gone so far? What progress have you made, what action did you take?
It could be that you’ve taken lots of action, and made lots of progress! In that case, great, keep it up and celebrate that success!
It could be though, that you haven’t taken action, or not consistently enough, so your progress has been sluggish, or ground to a halt, or none at all.
If that’s the case, what better time to revisit those plans for 2017! It’s a great marker point to commit again. To take action every day towards that plan, to create a new habit to replace the habit of inaction, because that habit of inaction is what you have currently.
When I say every day, I mean every day. The idea of Lent says we can take Sundays off, but I don’t agree here. Critical to creating a new habit in the world of brain science is to keep at it – reverting back every 7 days will revert your brain pathways back – it has to be every day.
So, look to the key areas of your life – health, wealth, career, lifestyle, relationships – in any of those areas, picking something to give up is great, but what action could you *start*. Cast your mind forward 40 days. How different could something be in your life, minor but preferable major, if you took action every day for 40 days?
Fix how it would feel in your mind. Then fix how it *will* feel, because you’re going to do it! Set the intention, work out what that daily step will be, commit to it, and away you go!
One sidestep and one swerve, and hopefully you can see the power of my Lent plan – I’d love to hear what you think!
‘Til Next Time,
Health & Happiness,
P.S. If you feel you could do with a nudge along the way, do watch my free video series covering my 8 step goal achievement formula, it’ll help!