For over 31 years, or as long as I was capable, I have bitten and picked at my fingernails. I tried everything to stop: I tried having a friend on lookout to yell at me everytime my fingers got near my mouth, I would sit on my hands during scary movies, I tried financially bribing myself as an incentive, I tried nail hardeners, shellac nail varnish (that I would just pick off) and I even tried that horrid tasting nail varnish that was popular in the early 2000’s but alas, my fingernails were always a downfall for me. I resigned myself to the fact that I would have short, unfeminine nails for life.
A few months after my 31st Birthday I got engaged and am lucky enough to have a beautiful diamond on my hand… with brittle, short nails. I decided it was time to make a permanent, lasting change.
I had just finished reading a fantastic book by Jeff Olsen called The Slight Edge, you can find out more about the book and order your copy here. The Slight Edge is advertised as the Personal Development book that makes all other Self Help books work, I highly recommend reading it. The book suggests that little habits, little actions we do every single day when done with perserverance will carry you to success and change your life in a positive or negative direction depending on the habit. Perserverance is steady persistance in a course of action. Persistant and steady, meaning something you do every day or multiple times every week.
So I began my persitant, steady journey of growing my nails. EVERY DAY I painted my nails with nail hardener and would file away any rough edges that I could potentially pick at. Then the next day I would remove the polish, paint my nails with nail hardener and file the rough edges, then the next day I would remove the polish and repeat the process. Get the picture? It didn’t take very long, maybe a month to six weeks before I really saw the difference and others did too. I have continued this habit, decreasing it slightly to every other day, still a steady habit of multiple times per week, and six months later my nails are the best they have ever been in my life and are getting progressively stronger.
The journey is not over, The Slight Edge points out that when we desire something, we make it happen and we reach a peak of comfort. Then we let the habit lapse and we slide down the other side of that peak. It is extremely likely if I do not continue to care persistantly for my nails that they will break and weaken again. These habits need to be for life.
The tiny habit of spending a couple minutes a day caring for my nails has inspired me to create other daily habits and stick with them; everything from my eating habits, reading, yoga, meditation, learning and my relationships with people. It is a life long journey I have committed to so that I steadily remain at the peak and avoid sliding down the other side.
I am fully aware that my ability to finally grow my fingernails after all these years is a relatively minor challenge when compared to other aspects of life, however they are physical proof, something tangible that proves this concept. Each day when I see them I’m reminded to be patient. Something I was incapable of doing my ENTIRE life and thought would never happen, eventuated right before my eyes.
I challenge you to take some time to find what you want in life and break that ‘want’ down into steps you can implement easily EVERY single day. Some examples; for languages maybe its doing duolingo daily, reading 10 pages of a good book daily, taking a few minutes daily to contact a family member or friend, taking 5-10 minutes to practice mindfulness, making better choices consistantly with food, going for a 20 minute walk rather than lying in bed snoozing or watching TV, spending 5-10 minutes on ANYTHING that serves you in a positive way EVER SINGLE DAY really adds up. Implement a daily habit, or many habits into your life. Just as importantly, notice daily habits you already have that do not serve you and are creating a negative spiral in your life and remove them! When you start seeing results, remember to persevere and continue the habit, it’s so easy to get comfortable, but remain consistant and your results will remain consistant too.
Anything is possible if we are patient and persevere with a steady mind and heart, formulate the habits that will create the life you want and enjoy the journey every step of the way for the rest of your life.