Creatures of Habit

Effective advice for lasting habit change

Why Politics Can Be Tougher than Life

Politics is tough. I'll stick to my self-change projects.

Hard work often gets you what you want. In politics though . . .

Here in Canada, we're having a federal election. It's the latest in a long line of federal elections, mostly because we've had a string of minority governments. In minority governments, the opposition parties can defeat the government on a ‘matter of confidence' and back to the polls we go . . .

For years, Canada's political scene was dominated by two parties: the Liberals and the Conservatives. Another party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), hasn't fared particularly well. A long time ago they reached a high of 43 seats, but that's miles away from forming even a minority government.

Leaders of the NDP come, and leaders of the party go. For the last eight years or so, a man named Jack Layton has been their leader. Mr. Layton does what all the other leaders of the NDP have done for years. When given the opportunity, he shows his party's colour (orange) and speaks to the issues of the day. He just keeps on trucking. He grinds it out.

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Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather this past week. For the first time in the history of forever, there is an ‘orange wave.' Support for the Liberals, and the nationalist party in Quebec, has dwindled to ridiculously low levels and the NDP is the primary beneficiary. Layton's party could get over 100 seats tonight. Historic.

Regardless of one's political leanings, this is an impressive result. Layton didn't suddenly change, or get a gimmick, or a makeover.

Uh uh.

He simply stuck to his strategy and, when the folks who usually support other parties couldn't stomach doing so again, he was there with his battle-tested appeal.

No one knew this was going to happen. Layton hoped it would happen, I am sure. But he couldn't have known it. That didn't stop him, though. His commitment saw him, and his supporters, through to this day.

But, here's something to consider: When you're grinding it out at habit change, you pretty much know that it's going to work out. You have so much more control than Layton does. No fickle electorate. This fact should bring you comfort. Your continuous hard work will, ultimately, get you what you want. Layton has never had this guarantee. No politician does.

Yup. Politics can be tougher than life.

For more from yours truly, visit me at My Bad Habits. I am also on Twitter.

 

Ian Newby-Clark is a psychologist at the University of Guelph who gives research-based advice for lasting habit change.

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