Need to make a change?
We all do, you’re not alone.
Something small, something big, no matter what it is, sometimes we feel like we can’t move an inch.
So why do we do what we do? Especially when we don’t want to do those things we do.
Much of the time, our behavior is driven by habits. In fact about 45% of what we do every day feels like a decision, but it’s actually a habit.
Habits make it possible for us to do things without spending an enormous amount of mental effort. This is not a bad thing – habits make our lives more manageable and efficient.
However, we also have behaviors we wish we could stop or habits we wish we could start that can contribute to our well being.
So when we want to make changes in our behaviors, often we can direct our efforts to changing our habits by creating new ‘good’ habits and eliminating the old ‘bad’ habits.
There are numerous methods and layers of habit change and I’ve incorporated many of the ideas from amazing books on behavior and habit change. Many thanks to authors James Clear of Atomic Habits, Charles Duhigg The Power of Habit and BJ Fogg Tiny Habits for making my habit changing journey such an enjoyable ride!
Although there are a handful of ideas I’d like to share – I’ll start with a simple formula that I keep in mind when I’m looking to make a change:
Keep it Visible
So where do we begin?
First, identify what you would like to change.
For example, I know that drinking water is really good for me. Yet by the end of each day, I feel dehydrated and discouraged because although I know staying hydrated has so many health benefits, I don’t drink nearly enough and I feel like a failure because all I needed to do was simply drink more water!
Instead of flexing my motivational muscles or exerting an over extended willpower, I can set myself up for technical success and incorporate this habit in my daily routine.
Step # 1 – Be Realistic
Start small and make steps easy to accomplish. If I usually drink a cup of water a day, I’ll gradually increase this amount each day until I’ve reached my goal. Manageable and realistic goals are doable, over extending your goals can be discouraging.
Step # 2 – Keep it Visible
Placing a water pitcher prominently on my kitchen counter keeps me focused and accountable. Just like positioning healthier food items to the front of the refrigerator where they provide a visual cue and therefore more inviting.
Step # 3 Reinforce Pleasure
Anytime I feel good about my choices, I can congratulate myself – Yay! I did great – I drank the entire pitcher of water today! Further, the following morning I wake up refreshed, my skin feels smooth, my eyes are not puffy and I’m so grateful I don’t see any new wrinkles on my face. Seeing results is real pleasure!!
What about getting rid of those bad habits? Here’s how it works:
For example, I want to stop eating chips and salsa…a food that adds empty calories to my day.
Step #1 – Unrealistic or Impractical
I have to make a special trip to a store several blocks away to get the brand of chips and salsa I like. It’s not practical for me to get to that store.
Step #2 – Invisible
If it’s not in my house – it’s certainly not visible! However, even if I do have a supply in the kitchen, I can ask someone to hide it from me or put the chips and salsa high up on a back shelf somewhere so it’s not food I would grab right away.
Step #3 – Reinforce Pleasure
Every time I pass up on my favorite snack food – I take pleasure in my accomplishments and say ‘Great job! you ate so well today!”
Try these tips – and if you want more ideas or to work with me on how to create better habits or change your behavior, contact me and we’ll tackle it together!