Three Days to Drop A Habit

Ok, I am giving myself three days to drop a simple habit.

Why three days, you may ask? Well, because it is a piece of homework I was given when I was fourteen and I never really acted upon it. The teacher in question was J. Krishnamurti.

When I was a student at Brockwood Park in the eighties, we would meet with him quite regularly in September, February, and June, and on one of these occasions, he set us some homework! That day, he was speaking about habits and suggested that we could understand how minds work by actively dropping a habit.

It did not matter what habit we chose to drop; the important thing was to observe the workings of the mind seriously. What was most surprising is that he specifically mentioned that one could lose a habit in three days. This was unusual for him, as he rarely ever gave specific advice.

It was a long time ago and, if I remember correctly, he instructed us that the first day we needed to carefully observe the habit without any interference. The second day, we needed to observe what would happen if we stopped performing the habit and notice the movements of thought, the sensations in the body, the resistance, etc. On the third day, we could let go of it entirely and wave it goodbye.

I could not really come up with a habit at the time, and it seemed a little magical, so I ignored the exercise and never really gave it a go. 

Today, some thirty-four years later, I decided to act upon it and give myself three days to drop one habit. The habit I chose to work on is NOT GOING TO BED WHEN I FEEL TIRED. It is a habit I have been struggling with since I was a child. I have tried so many things to encourage myself to go to bed early over the years that I have nearly given up on it. Yet, I have nothing to lose and intend to focus on it diligently for the next few days and use this writing challenge to write a little about the process in the next three days.

Finally, it would be nice if you could join me with the challenge or attempt to drop a habit or your own – in three days!

This series of posts are part of Incrementally– a 366-day writing challenge.

Photo by Darius Bashar

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Find your trigger


We are animals after all. Homo Sapiens may have wisdom but they are also governed by simple instincts, learnt behaviours and conditioned stimuli and responses. Instead of battling with our nature, can we learn to work with it? There is apparently a way to teach our old inner dog new tricks.

If we were to ring a bell before eating breakfast every morning, we would probably start salivating shortly after it sounded. I am not suggesting that we reproduce Pavlov’s experiments on our children or partners, but instead see whether we can learn to anchor new practices onto established ones. It would seem that we have an inbuilt tendency to associate things together and that once they have been associated for long enough they nearly become one. According to Leo Babauta, the easiest way to make a new habit stick is to schedule it just after an already established daily activity.

For those of us who have an issue with keeping to a regular routine, or have erratic schedules, the best thing is to create a trigger with something that is already strongly anchored in our lives. In my case, the trigger will be yoga which I practice every morning. Rolling my mat will be associated with the start of my writing practice.

Should I sound my meditation bowl to draw out the creative juices?

Until tomorrow,


Photo Credit: Brandon Day

This blog is part of a renewed 42-day writing challenge inspired by Leo Babauta’s  Zen Habits Book.

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Create Space


We need space. To start understanding the chemistry of change, we have to be actively involved in the process and create the necessary space. Now that we have committed to making a change, we need to prepare the ground and establish a rhythm. Although the main intention is to create a positive habit, the process is what matters.  In the next six weeks, I am going to do my best to share the relevant learning that comes along the way.

A habit is a bit like a piece of furniture – it needs physical space. Therefore, it is important to choose the right habits if we don’t want to clutter our lives. We can, of course, try something and later realise that we don’t want it, but ideally, it is desirable to think carefully and to listen to one’s intuition before we commit to making a change. Once committed, you have to create a space for it both physically and psychologically. This may require moving other things to make space for it. This is where the Habit Plan comes in.

The advice today is to write up a simple plan that is easy to implement. Here is mine

The Morning Writing Practice Habit

Start date: 15 May 2016
Specific habit: Writing or rewrite for at least 25 minutes a day
Trigger: After my morning meditation
Reminder: Night before (reading Zen Habits book)
Review dates: 21 & 28 May, and 4, 11 & 18 June
Accountability: LYL (Live Your Legend) – Creators’ Guild
Commitment: One blog post a day for the next six weeks
Asking for support: Live Your Legend – Action & AccountabilityTeam
Potential obstacles: Taking too long to rewrite and edit the blog post
Log: Breangelo blog
Who will you share the plan with?: The readers of this blog.

Finally, there is the where and the when that still needs to be finalised. It helps to have a special space which one associates with a new habit. My desk in the study facing the morning sun is an ideal place that I associate with writing already. I can set a timer and use Freedom for an uninterrupted twenty-five-minute stretch. As far as the time of the day, I will use the already established MIT slot between my morning meditation and my run. Of course, I can always write more, but the most important to start with is to show up and stop before one tires.

Space has been created, the next step is to go up the rabbit hole!

See you tomorrow,


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