If you’re like most people you do the same thing every morning. Your morning routine is a habit, no matter what order you do them in. If you have to change your routine, for instance if you over sleep, how does it make you feel? Try this experiment. Cross your arms. Which arm is on top? Now cross your arms again and put the other arm on top? How does it feel? Is it uncomfortable? Was it difficult to do? Did you have to think about what you’re doing?
Habits make life easier and more efficient. They are created over time through repetition and become wired into our subconscious. The problem is that when we want to change our “routine” whether it’s our eating habits, become more organized or quit smoking, its awkward and uncomfortable. Our brain sends out signals that it doesn’t want to change and this is when we typically give up.
In today’s fast paced world, we’re used to having instant gratification. When we want to know what’s going on in the world, we no longer have to wait for the paper to be delivered or for the evening news to come on. We can watch the news on all-day news stations, catchup on Face Book and Twitter and check out the on-line news websites.
When we’re in the grocery store and we want to talk to someone, we don’t have to wait until we get home, we can call from our cell phones, text or even email. When we want something to eat, we can easily pick up a meal at a fast food restaurant or something already cooked at the grocery store.
We’re used to instant gratification and when we want to change a habit, we want instant change, and we get upset and discouraged when it doesn’t happen right away. Stop! Change takes time! They used to say that it takes 21 days to create a new habit, but more recent studies have shown that it typically takes 90 days and often longer.
How can we make it easier to change a habit? Create mini-habits! When going from couch potato to running a marathon, do you start by getting off the couch and running 26 miles at one time? No. Depending on the shape you‘re in, you first start off by walking, then mix walking with running and as time goes by, you’re doing more running than walking and going for longer distances. All in all, it will take you about six months before you can run that 26 mile marathon!
Now you may not want to run a marathon, but maybe you want to start exercising. First you need to decide what kind of exercise you want to do. If you want to walk, start by setting your goal to walk for five minutes. You don’t even need to go outside, walk around your office or house, but if you can, go outside. The fresh air and being in nature will make you feel good.
If you want to do calisthenics, start by setting your goal to do one push up, one sit-up or one squat. Chances are pretty good that you’ll do more than one push up, sit-up or squat, or walk more than five minutes, but the goal you put on your calendar and to-do list is the lowest acceptable amount. The idea is to make the goal doable so even when you don’t feel like it or when you’re too tired you can still achieve your daily goal!
When trying to create new habits, you don’t want to skip day, repetition is what creates a new habit. When you skip a day, it’s too easy to make excuses and continue to skip days. Before you know it, you're back to where you were before, discouraged and unhappy!
You can do this for any habit. If you want to be more organized, how can you break it down? Work on one area or pile at a time for 15 minutes a day and make sure you set a timer. You’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish if you’re consistent.
- Break down your new habit into doable parts.
- Determine where you want to start and how you’ll know when it’s accomplished.
- Put on your to-do list and calendar the minimum measurement that you want to achieve (you can always do more) and then cross it off when it’s completed.
- Don't skip a day!
Studies have shown that crossing off items on our to-do lists makes us feel good. We feel like we’ve accomplished something and are less likely to get discouraged. So when you’re having a busy day or you’re exhausted and can only do one pushup, you still accomplished your goal and are well on your way to creating your new habit! Congratulations!
While working on your mini-habits remember the story of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race! Having a plan and putting it on your calendar makes you become more consciously aware of what you’re doing and when you’re no long working on autopilot your goals are easier to achieve! Set yourself up for success, do one mini habit a day!
If you’re still having trouble achieving your goals, get support. Someone who will motivate you, help you figure out what steps you need to take and hold you accountable. I’m here to help. Schedule your free coaching session today!