Once Upon a Habit…. Really does turn into the story of our lives.
Once upon a habit there was a little man who after a hard day at work, went home, pulled out his left-over spaghetti, gobbled it down, knew he should take a walk to relax, but felt he was just way too tired. Instead he turned on the TV for his favorite evening sitcom and with beer and bag of chips in hand settled in until his next move of going to the fridge to indulge a bowl of ice-cream. …. And the rest, sad to say is his story…. of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and the ill effects of prescription drugs.
This little story has a pretty negative side, but unfortunately a very real one for many people.
When our lives are viewed from the perspective of our habits it is easy to understand why we are where we are, but it is also easy to visualize the change that we can bring about by adjusting our habits.
Change your habits and you can effect almost
any change in your life you’d like to bring about.
As adults, the problem with changing an unwanted behavior or trying to implement lifestyle changes usually has nothing to do with our discipline or self-control. It almost always has to do with our habits.
Habit: a settled or regular tendency or usual manner of behavior
Synonyms: custom, practice, routine, wont, pattern, convention, way, norm, tradition, rule
When we think about these terms we usually visualize consistency, and consistency is what we want to experience when we are attempting a permanent or worthwhile change in our lives.
We don't have to look hard to see habits of consistency in our lives in many places. These consistent habits trigger other actions or habits. These triggers can be positive or negative.
Try this experiment for incorporating a new habit. Take something you do every day around the same time of the day. It could be your morning cup of coffee (some people want to break this habit). But let's say this is a habit you don't mind keeping. Cause you actually love that great cup of java. When you think about it, you probably have other actions (habits) you perform around this habit, say, like reading the newspaper, browsing your favorite magazine or conquering the next Sudoku puzzle. And after you have your coffee you may perform another immediate action like going to take a shower.
Now think of something you would like to incorporate into your life that you have struggled with for a long time. Perhaps you would like to do a workout each morning, but never seem to be able to start it. How about as soon as you think about having that cup of coffee, you decide to do a 3-minute (yes, just 3 minutes) exercise routine, and then have your coffee. Maybe you could tape a note to the coffee maker or to your cabinet that reads "3-min pre-coffee warm-up" to help you remember. Attaching an action to an already existing habit provides an easier avenue by witch to start at new habit.
Forming habits that serve you well is a skill
that can be learned. It is more about finding strategies
that work to crowd out the bad with the good.
A Strategy for Forming New Habits (just 4 simple steps)
#1 Clarify your desires. What do you want?
Know why this is something you desire to do. Increase your desire and longing for it by knowing what benefits are waiting for you. Keep a journal and write down your intention and motivation for change.
#2 Take action by crowding out the bad with the good.
Always focus on adding vs taking away. And you don’t have to be an expert the first time. Start Small (like a 3 to 5 minute workout if your goal is 20 minutes) or if you’re trying to eat healthier, start with changing something small like drinking just one additional glass of water a day, or eating an apple for a snack. Think about what you can add, no matter how small, that puts you closer to where you want to be. Think of a trigger you can put in place to make your new action easier.
#3 Visualize your success.
Visualize your success. See yourself doing the action and taking joy in the accomplishment of it. Visualize your future self happy and wholly embodied in your new habit. Ask your future self "what did you do to accomplish this?" Follow the advice of your future self. This is an amazing success strategy.
#4 Trade in judgment for curiosity & awareness. If you are derailed it is not the end of the world. It happens to everyone and there is no need to judge your-self with a lot of the negative self-talk. Be curious and observant so you may understand what may be feeding your undesired behavior. What rationalizations might you be using and why? Start again.
Consider incorporating these 4 steps whenever you're trying to form a new habit. Remember....breaking bad habits and starting good ones is more about finding functional strategies for change and crowding out the bad with the good. Let your life be not just Once Upon a Habit, but Once Upon a "Good" Habit.
If you want to up-level your self-care but feel stuck in habits that no longer serve you. I can help! Health Coaching provides the right system, support and accountability to turn bad habits into good habits that last.
Sign up for a complimentary discovery session here.