Habits: New & Old
Sometimes it's the routines we have on autopilot that make or break the health of our 3 Homes. Are there habits you need to undo? New ones you need to build? Here's how
Do you ever feel like the cartoon below? I do.
This and other very relatable cartoons are found at Everyday People Cartoons
It can be so difficult to build the habits that we need for real and sustained growth because of these kinds of cycles and other reasons like we looked at in the previous post.
In the last post, we examined being too focused on the outcome and not loving the process, biting off more than we can chew and not having the right resources to really move forward productively.
Healthy habits are so helpful to build because it allows us to put things that benefit us on autopilot. It’s easy to think about brushing your teeth before you go to bed and just get it done every night, because you’ve been doing it your whole life. Lots of influences told us over and over again why tooth and gum health is so important, they showed us how to have good technique and there are lots of resources, like different brands of toothpaste and types of toothbrushes, that make it easy to be successful at keeping up the routine of brushing.
If only so many other healthy habits were so accessible, reinforced and easy to learn!
Why Build a Habit?
I think this quote by Jim Rohn helps answer the questions of why we should want to build habits at all:
In the same way that loving the process makes it easier to stick with something, instead of focusing on the outcome - habits help to keep us going even when we don’t have the right feelings or mindset to move forward. A habit allows you take some of the thinking out of things, it allows you to persevere when it would be easy to quit.
But the tricky thing about habits is it’s hard to break a bad one, and it takes time to build a new one.
Breaking Bad Habits
James Clear is someone who has done a lot of research on habits - I read one of his books a while back and it changed the way I look at patterns of behavior. He also has a great blog - like this one on “How to Break a Bad Habit” https://jamesclear.com/how-to-break-a-bad-habit
To summarize some of his thoughts:
- Bad habits can crop up from lots of places - like boredom and coping with stress.
- Replace the habit with something else instead of just quitting.
- Remove temptation and triggers. Rearrange your routines to avoid situations that make it easy to fall back into the habit you want to break.
James has a few more helpful tips, so I’d encourage you to check out his blog to unpack the rest of his thoughts.
To add to the above, a few things I have found helpful when confronting a bad habit are:
- Choose a mantra that will reinforce why you want to make this change. When you feel like making a choice that returns to a bad habit, recite it to yourself - keep it as a note on your phone and pull it up as needed.
- Don’t set up a pass-fail system in your mind - this can lead to downward spirals. If you slip up or can’t manage a particular instance, that doesn’t undo the progress you’ve made. Acknowledge that it happened but move beyond it - try again.
If you really want to overcome a bad habit you have to give yourself the time and permission to try again when things don’t go to plan and reminders of why you want to do things differently.
Building Good Habits
So you want to start a good habit or replace a bad one with a better one - how can you get started? Firstly, get realistic. Somewhere along the line, the idea of 21 days came into the common vernacular as the length of time to create a habit. That’s pretty unlikely though. It takes on average 66 days of consistency to make a new behavior stick (according to a study by Phillippa Lally, at University College London, European Journal of Psychology). But all it really takes is to start on Day 1 - it builds from there, step by step, choice by choice.
Next, reinforce for yourself why this is important. What will this habit help you achieve? How do you visualize your future self once you have this new behavior pattern integrated into you life?
Is there something you already do that you can add the habit to? Think about integrating this new habit with others that you want to keep. For example, if you want to stop leaving negative comments on social media, you could replace it with only commenting when you can find something positive or constructive to say. Since you may already be liking photos and content, you can add the new habit of putting more positive reinforcement or engaging in meaningful commentary into this time of the day too. Only comment when you like - you’re still getting to express yourself but you’re breaking an internal monologue of negativity for yourself and others :)
... reinforce for yourself why this is important
Or if you’ve noticed you’re doing a lot of sitting recently, like me, and you’d like to get some more movement during the day, try taking the first 10 minutes of your lunch break to take a walk (make it the first 10 instead of the last 10 to ensure you get it in). For many people, lunchtime is a pretty consistent time of the day, so adding the walk to this scheduled time is easier than just saying to yourself “I should walk more”.
Habits are so worthwhile to build - it makes it much easier to make a pattern of the choices that make your 3 Homes nicer places to live. Do it for your Body, your Mind and your World :)
For some last words of encouragement:
With love, Jess
A Thought for Your Thoughts:
Take 2 Minutes - Follow
The final note of encouragement for this post came from someone who creates some very encouraging posts about making change - Dr Jenn Hardy - she can be found by following @drjennhardy on Instagram
Take 5 Minutes - Commit
What’s the habit you want to build? Why do you want to build it? Make a note in your phone right now that answers those two questions - and make it actionable. From the above examples, it can be as simple as “I am going to walk 10 minutes at the beginning of lunch because it will help me feel good in my body to move after sitting all morning”
Take Some Time - Book Recommendations
Need some encouragement to get going? Check out Brianna Wiest’s book "The Mountain Is You: Transforming Self-Sabotage Into Self-Mastery" (here - affiliate link). As referenced above, I referenced James Clear’s research on habits that can be found in the book "Atomic Habits" (found here - affiliate link)
Note: “A thought for your thoughts” is going to be a section added to the end of each blog to give you some ideas on how to bring these words/thoughts to life for yourself. You know yourself better than anyone, so not every suggestion will be for you - that’s ok, it might give you some inspiration though, or help you to try something new.
And because we all have different time pressures, I’ll try to give you something that will take 2 minutes, 5 minutes or some more time. Everyone has two minutes to give a little action and intention to improving their Three Homes. You probably will have five minutes most days too. And, for a deeper dive, I’ll give some additional resources, like a book recommendation or activity that will allow you to dedicate yourself to moving forward, if you are so inspired.
(Also, the title of the section is fun nod to one of my favorite shows - Parks & Rec)