At any moment, at any time, on any day of the week, you can choose to do something differently. There is no rule with habit change – it does not take 2 weeks, 21 days, or 1,000 hours. I’ve stopped behaviors that I’ve been doing for years in a moment, I’ve also taken months to wean myself away from whatever habit I was doing. That said, there is an underlying framework to successful behavior change that includes 4 components. I will discuss all pieces in this blog.
The backbone or framework of it all is what I call your WHYspiration. Why are you inspired to change a habit? Get real clear on why you want what you want and your path towards arriving there will be smoother. Ask yourself: Why do you want what you want? How will your life be different when you make that change? Why have you not made that change yet? What are you willing to do to get where you want to be? How strong is your Whyspiration? Knowing why you want what you want, your Whyspiration, is crucial because of how our brain is wired. Our brain’s entire goal is for us to survive; to make it to the next day alive. It does this by repeating over and over what we’ve always done because, hey, look, you’re still alive, right? Our brain is literally wired for survival. That’s it’s goal. It’s not here to make sure we are thriving in our life or that we love how we’re spending our days. It is here to make sure we don’t run across a tiger in the woods. In fact, if our brain had its’ way, we’d spend our days in bed with popcorn, Netflix, and a remote. Truly. That’s safe, comfortable and since we’ve done it before and survived, it’s easy. In order to change habits, we have to practice different behaviors and get out of the “habit of easy”. We have to look at discomfort as a sign that we’re on the right path to that better version of ourselves. Here are the four ingredients of habit change to get started on that journey:
1) Accountability: You need someone by your side to keep you accountable. Your brain is an excuse generator. It is an expert at convincing you why you need to keep doing what you’ve been doing. It’s an expert at convincing you that your “new plan” is ridiculous and pointing out the reasons why you should not change what you’ve been doing. Again, your brain isn’t evil. It’s trying to keep you alive. What it doesn’t realize is that we don’t need to stay alone and in bed with Netflix to survive. There aren’t tigers out in the wild anymore. It’s time for some change. Get a coach or a friend to hold you accountable to your goals. You will get faster and more sustainable results with a professional coach (I know a great one!?) just as you will get better at tennis when you hire a tennis coach versus ask your buddy who knows as much about tennis as you. If you hire a coach, they’ll help you set small, achievable goals. If you work with a friend, tell them your goals. Get specific. Tell them how they can help you (ask them if you can text them after you’ve gone to the gym or when you get in bed by 10).
Left alone, you will continue to do what you’ve always done.
Saying our goals aloud can be scary and telling them to someone else can be even scarier but, as I’ve said before, nothing phenomenal happens in our comfort zone. Feel the fear and do it anyways.
2) Visualize: What will your life be like when you shift that habit? How will your days be different? Close your eyes and get clear on what your day will look like and, even better, what you’ll feel like. Athletes are constantly trained to close their eyes and visualize their winning race down to every micro-detail. What will the uniform feel like, what will your breath sound like, what will your body feel like as it gets to the finish line first, who will be watching you, how will it feel when the winning medal is hung around your neck? I want you to visualize that also. Take something as simple as getting to bed earlier. Visualize it. Where will your phone be? Visualize yourself pouring your sleepy time tea. What excuses will your brain come up with to stay up late? What will you do? How will you feel as you get under the covers and look at the earlier time on the clock? How will your body feel as it drifts off to sleep? How will you feel in the morning when you know you did what you said you’d do? You get the point. Visualize it and make it happen. Expect your brain to resist and visualize how you’ll override it.
3) Mindset Shift: Get your mind on your side. If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right. I hear from so many clients that they can’t lose weight. When I ask why, they say because they never have before. Uh, hello…if I thought I couldn’t write a blog because I never had before, where would I be now? If, as a 1 year old, I thought I couldn’t walk because I never have before, where would I be? You get the point. The fact that we haven’t yet, doesn’t mean we can’t ever. What we think about our future is what it will be. If we think we can or think we can’t, we’re right. Edison said: “I’ve never failed. I just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.”
When we shift from seeing our past attempts as failures but as learning experiences, we move from hopeless to hopeful.
Take my clients who want to lose weight. When they can look at their past as a lesson (what they did that did work and didn’t work) versus evidence that they’ll never succeed, they begin to see that success is possible. I also love Einstein’s quote: “Failure doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It means you haven’t succeeded yet.”
4) Take Action Every Damn Day: No matter your new habit, take action every single day. If you are doing sit-ups to strengthen your back, do some every day. If you are scheduling your days to bring calmness to your system, write out your schedule every single day. If you are cutting back on sugar or alcohol in your diet, cut back in some way every day. If you are lessening the influence Facebook has in your life, set specific time goals every single day. Get specific and start today. The longer you sit and think about what you “should” do, the less likely it is that you’ll do it. Start small but get started. A body in motion stays in motion. Set yourself up for success by choosing do-able goals.
There you go: how to start a new habit to evolve your wonderful self to your next best version. Small hinges move large doors. Small steps create big change. Don’t allow your brain to convince you to stay where you are so that you get to this time next year and beat yourself up further. You are reading this blog for a reason. Your inner warrior is speaking. We are here to evolve and it is up to us to lead our brain in that direction. Change occurs when we take small actions consistently. How can you get started today?
If you’re interested in getting more conscious in your life, examining the thoughts you’re thinking, understanding why you do what you do, learning how your past is influencing your present, sign up to take my 10-Day Cleanse for Conscious Living. It’s a ten-day online course that you can take anywhere (on the beach!). I’m putting it on crazy sale for the month of June because I so believe in the power of YOU! Use the coupon code JUNE and then commit to yourself. Do it for you, for your family, or for your job. It doesn’t matter your reasons to do it. Just Do It.