What do intention, 21 days and grace all have in common? Well, it is said that it takes 21 days to create a good habit. That positive “can do” statement has been around since the 1960’s when Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon observed many of his patients taking approximately three weeks to acclimate to their surgical procedures. Whether it was a new nose job or a severe amputation, he recognized it took a “minimum” of 21 days to accept their new look or way of life. WA-LAH! He published his discoveries, and the catchphrase was taken over by the confident celebrity, self-help gurus from that day forward. It’s funny the positive peeps somehow left the word “minimum” out from their new “can do” shared expression. Go figure!
However, along with all the cheerful can doers come the slew of “No you can’t!” doubters right behind them trying to prove the 21-day habit is foolish. I like to call these groups the D & D clubs. Our world does not operate without either gang, it is just a matter of choice what D-crowd you want to hang with. Our minds can certainly teeter back and forth from the doers to the doubters. This is where the “Fork in the Road” metaphor comes into play!
There is something to be said about wanting to be better, do better and live better. Breaking bad habits and creating good habits all starts with intention. Intention is waking the mind to be aware. Intention is setting your mind into motion. Intention is your energy. It is what you tell yourself and what matters most to you. Intention holds power and our purpose! Like a musician, athlete or perhaps the person studying for their grueling CFA or MBE, they set an intention and aim their focus into doing that one thing over and over to get better. Practice makes perfect, right? We all have heard that proverbial expression. Well, it certainly is believed that most musicians, athletes, and studious folk spend more than 21 days making disciplined decisions and habits. The scientists certainly spent more than 21 days shooting BIG FAT HOLES into Maltz’s research, and now own the catchy phrase “nanny nanny boo-boo, it really takes 66 days to make a habit.” Never heard of it? Hey, it may not be as popular as the 21-day positive mantra, but I think it is holding its own in their D-Group! Just as babies take one step at a time, the 21-day habit is something to propel into. With any new, daily intention, you simply must start with the mindset! Whether you want to play beautiful music, make it to the NFL, drink more water, add more exercise or just eat more carrots, it all starts with the power of your intention and a DAY ONE to get that purpose into motion.
To build a stronger foundation, you are going to need to add some bricks or days to your new structure. The funny thing about intention is the “rinse and repeat” process. You need to set a daily mantra. Luckily for us, we have stellar technology, such as Alexa or Siri to help remind us. Alexa and Siri are definitely “doers”. You can set up that smart machinery to be your cheerleader!
Day one usually feels pretty good. You tell yourself, “You got this!” “You can do it!” Your mind is fully focused. Day two is feeling confident and on day three and four, you are still kicking butt! Everything has been fierce and focused and then...oh no, you ran out of carrots and all there is to replace them is chocolate cake. You start telling yourself there are eggs in cake, and that’s a protein and protein is good for your muscles. You start hearing Dr. Oz in your head stating, “dark chocolate is a superfood!” or, “It is an energy vitamin!” Okay you may remember he really said, “energy zapper”, but you are already elbow deep into choc-o-ville! Before you know it, you are using the grocery list that has “more carrots” on it to wipe the evidence off your face! Yeah, yeah, we have all been there. It usually happens so fast it can make you look back for proof of what you stumbled over. UGH!
There is no reason to get yourself down or completely give up on your 21-day goal. Like all good things, grace comes to the rescue. Yes, GRACE! Seriously, we have seemed to have forgotten how to extend it, but we certainly do recall IT when someone doesn’t boost it our way. Whoa! We may even have something seriously to say about it, but that is a whole different blog!
Grace is not an out or excuse! We can grow stronger, accepting our stumbles and bumbles and extending grace to ourselves. If we allow ourselves to have grace, we can have a deeper personal appreciation for it and remember to give it to others. Giving grace is simply an act of kindness, perhaps forgiveness or to show love. If your friend just told you about her love affair with the chocolate cake, I am sure you would instruct her not to be hard on herself. Express that she should forgive herself! Perhaps let her know she can keep moving forward. Yes, of course you would encourage, show compassion, and comfort her with grace!
If you have set your intentions and you wobble or even fall flat, it is important to grant yourself some of this ooey, gooey goodness of love called grace and keep inspiring ahead until you get to a number that feels like a solid foundation to you. Each person’s habit will be a different process for sure. Grace will allow you to embrace the course of intention.
Despite finding yourself back at that Fork in the Road, we can view it from the perspective of allowing the opportunity for a more secure commitment, a second chance while taking with us the knowledge of what feels right and where we fell short. Even Dr. Seuss has said, “You can steer yourself any direction you choose!” So, whether it be 21 days or 66 days, just start with DAY ONE! Set your INTENTION, use your lunchbox, Happy Bubble Note Mantra, build your FOUNDATION daily and when you need to, EXTEND YOURSELF some good ole’ GRACE and keep moving forward with the Can-Do-CROWD!