"It just happened. Just like that. You know, one day I just had enough. No more! I haven't smoked a cigarette since then. That was three years ago."
Yeah, well, except it didn't happen just like that.
Here's how I think change really happens... and it's the same pattern that occurs all across the universe when anything new happens:
Step 1: A seed is sown.
An idea is had. A heretic thought. Some inkling, some hint that maybe everything isn't as you thought it were.
It looks harmless at first. It's just an acorn of an idea. An acorn that will grow into a majestic oak that tears through concrete foundations.
But we're not there yet.
Step 2: The seed is watered.
You thought it was harmless at first. But you find this thought reoccurring in your head a few too many times each day.
You just keep finding yourself thinking about this... thing. Whatever it may be.
It starts gnawing at you. You're struggling to accept the idea. You don't want to accept it because that would change everything.
Step 3: The tipping point.
This is where people go "You know, one day, I just decided to change. Just like that!"
The idea has spent weeks, months or years taking root. At some specific moment, after having had enough nourishment, the seed will rear its ugly head above the surface.
This is where this heretic thought transforms from idea to action.
You can't stand it anymore. You have to do something about it. So you start eating better, or you start training for that marathon, or you flush down that pack of smokes, or you start writing your novel, or you start working on your internet business.
I don't know if this resonates with anyone else, but this is the pattern I've noticed over and over again in my own life.
Some things to notice:
After the seed is sown, the rest is inevitable. Something will happen, whether you like it or not. No discipline required.
People who have reached a tipping point and had a change happen in their life, think of themselves as disciplined people... when in fact, they don't really have a choice.
I don't see it as much as "making change happen in your life" as "having change happen to you."
It's not like all the motivational people say... that you just have to giddy up and TAKE ACTION! - and force change to happen in your life. That never works.
It's more like... you're just casually walking down the road, and BAM! That heretic thought smacks you upside the head. Somewhat akin to getting hit by a bus.
After that, you're done.