Catching Yourself to Create New Habits

Published on 2012-11-17

Source: poeloq @ Flickr
SEVERAL MONTHS AGO my colleague Steven and I were walking to the subway station after work. As we got there, Steven noticed I was going to go down the first set of stairs but he quickly stopped me.
“There are less people on the platform if we go down the stairs at the back.”
So we went down the stairs at the back and he was right, there were far less people, and this meant we could get more space on the subway. I was grateful to Steven for pointing this out as I do prefer quieter spaces on the subway where possible.
The next time I went to the subway station on my own, I completely forgot about what Steven said and went down the first set of stairs. As I got to the platform and noticed all the people queuing up I thought to myself “if only there was a less crowded area!”. Suddenly I caught myself and remembered the location on the platform that Steven had shown me, and so walked back there again.
The next time I went to the subway station on my own without Steven, I again went down the first set of stairs, again completely forgetting about the quieter area at the back. But this time, as I was approaching the bottom of the stairs the sight of lots of people suddenly reminded me of the quiet place Steven had shown me, and so I went back up the stairs. Again I had forgotten, but this time I’d managed to catch myself earlier!
After about 4 or 5 times of catching myself, I started remembering as soon as I got to the subway station which exit I should head for, and now I am successfully in the habit of taking the quiet stairs!
Picking up a new habit requires a change in the way we think, but sometimes we are so stuck in our existing ways of thinking that we forget to change. Change happens when we can catch ourselves in the midst of our old way of thinking, the more often we catch ourselves, and the earlier into the process of thinking we catch ourselves, the faster we can change our habits. So remember to catch yourself the next time you want to change yourself.