I (Cori) live in an Iowa town of about 11,000 people. Recently, the city removed stop signs at numerous intersections, reducing 4-way stops to 2-way stops. One of the intersections is right by my house. The stop signs were taken down last week, and it has been interesting to drive through the intersection.
We’ve lived in our house for almost 10 years, so you can imagine how “normal” it is to always stop at that intersection. The cross street does not have to stop now, so it is weird to see cars just drive through the intersection. I feel like I have to re-learn how to drive to and from my house. I have to pay attention more now, because before everyone was supposed to stop. Now, I have to judge how fast cars are coming and if I have enough time to safely get through the intersection. It’s weird to turn onto our street from the cross street, too. On more than one occasion I have slowed down as if to stop, instead of just slowing to make a turn. It’s also awkward when someone is stopped when they don’t have to because they are just in the habit of stopping at that intersection.
It’s just a stop sign! It seems like it shouldn’t be such a big deal, you know? But, it is. We are creatures of habit, so it takes time and extra thinking when we change a habit. The same is true with a journey to eating healthier and/or exercising more. We have habits that have been formed for many years, maybe even a lifetime, and it takes a lot of effort and thinking to change those habits.
The stop signs were removed one afternoon. It didn’t take long before I witnessed what could have easily been an accident because one driver forgot (or didn’t notice) that the other didn’t have to stop anymore. The driver who didn’t have to stop blared his horn for quite a while. It was excessive, really, and I couldn’t help but think, “Um, sir, the stop signs have only been down for a couple hours. Give people some time to adjust!”
Give yourself time to adjust, too. Take things slowly. You might not see radical results at first, but if you keep making small changes, you will start to see and feel differences. Don’t go blaring your horn at yourself out of disgust for messing up. Keep in mind that it takes time to change our habits. Someday I will approach the intersection near our house and not even think about the fact that it used to be a 4-way stop, but I have no idea how long that will take. If you keep working on your habits, someday you might forget that you ever did life a different way. But, until then, keep up the good work and take pride in the small changes you are making!