3 Steps to Creating New Habits
Destiny’s Child sings, “I've takin all I could take (I've takin all I could take), But the way I live has gotta change, oh, But I gotta break this bad habit” in their song Bad Habit. In our work, whether it is teaching Reiki for self care or Hypnosis for Health and Happiness or perhaps coaching, our clients inevitably have a habit they would like to change. Either they want to create a new one or release an old one that no longer serves them.
I kicked the habit, of smoking back some time ago
And I tried the hard stuff but I had to let all that go
But the toughest thing I ever gave up was today
'Cause old habits like you are hard to break
Songwriters: Hank Jr. Williams
Let’s talk about forming new habits. We all have times in our lives where we intentionally want to change our behavior for the better and create new habits for ourselves. This could be getting in the habit of eating healthier, meditation, better sleep, drinking more water or de-stressing. Or it could be moving more, exercising, maybe taking the dog for a daily walk. Or it could be work related, or spiritual, or… yeah, I think you get the idea. There are so many areas in our lives that could be improved and made easier if we created new habits.
Getting into the habit of doing something is usually easier said than done. Believe it or not, there is a scientific reason for this. It’s all in our brain. We need to reprogram the messages (neurons firing, creating connections, sending messages throughout our body). Because of this, we seem to acquire bad habits without any effort, but getting into a “good” habit can be a little more challenging, simply because we need to reprogram the “software” that has been running in the background like a subtle virus.
Here’s a three step process making it easy to follow until the new behavior becomes a part of us and made it a true habit – something we do automatically without having to think about, like brushing our teeth.
What Do You Want To Do?
The first step is to decide what you want your new habit to be. Be as specific as possible. Don’t tell yourself you want to exercise more. Get detailed. Instead say perhaps, “I will take the dogs on a 20 minute walk every single day”. (For me, there is an added benefit of cardio when the two dogs get tangled around me and I end up flailing about to avoid falling over.) Deciding what your new habit will be and committing to when and how you’re going to do it, is half the battle.
Git ‘R Done! With A Reminder...
In the beginning it might be smooth sailing. You’re motivated and excited to get habit in the bank! Sticking to the new habit isn’t an issue. However, in just a few days in you’ll notice that it’s easy to allow old habits to creep back in.
Maybe it’s raining or depending on where you live - snowing or it is just way too muggy and icky to go out for a walk. Perhaps your day just got away from you. This is when it’s important to have a daily reminder. Set an alert on your phone, your calendar on your computer or add the new habit to your daily to-do list for a while.
I personally love Alexa for this - she’s my awesome assistant in so many ways. Keeping me on track with my habits is definitely one of them!
Repetition and Routine
It takes some time before a new behavior becomes a true habit. It has been said that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit. That is continuous without interruption. Until then, a routine will work to your best advantage. Even before the new behavior becomes automatic, a routine will help you get it done without having to relying on daily reminders or hope your strength of will alone can get you through.
Make that daily walk part of your after dinner routine, or change from grabbing a snack at the vending machine at work at 10:00 in the morning to packing a healthy snack.
Congratulations! Decide to create the new habit, practice the routine until it’s second nature and you’ll be well on your way to forming a new good habit.
If developing a new habit or releasing an old one is challenging for you, schedule a free Soulutions Discovery Session with us to get on track!