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Changing a Habit with a Song


Habits, once formed, are hard to change, far harder than developing a new habit. How do I know this? For five years now, my wonderful wife has been working on me to leave things the way I found them, without success. All the usual methods of spousal advice have barely dented my unique ability to leave a cabinet door open when getting down a cereal bowl each morning. Until, that is, she gave me a strategy I could put to song.

Laura suggested I remember the term transition. When reaching a doorway, I should pause, and before I “transition” into the next room, check to make sure everything is as I found it. I liked it and tried it. As with all bad habits, just liking the solution failed to consistently move me out of my behavior. That is, until music was added to the approach.

In this case David Bowie came to my rescue. I started thinking about transitions and the chorus from his 1976 hit, TVC 15, popped into my head. Transition followed by Transmission made me laugh as I sang it in the kitchen doorway. And after a month of humming and singing, I see progress in my orderliness.

So when you have a habit you need to eliminate or improve, see if you can find a game, or song, or anything you enjoy to link to the behavior. Behavioral scientists have a name for this, but that’s their song.

So try it and see if that helps you. What have you got to lose? And remember, in the paraphrased lyrics of Led Zeppelin, without a song, the habit remains the same.

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