Over the last few years, there has been an increased focus on changing our habits instead of focusing on new years resolutions, which we all know have limited validity in their ability to change behaviour. Habits on the other hand have the unique ability to be stackable, bite-sized, and collect interest. This goes for our good habits and our less desirable habits. The great thing about habits is that they are essentially a whole bunch of choices and we all make choices every day.
I’m going to walk you through 5 simple steps to get clear on the habits that are supporting you and which are not, so you can determine what choices you need to make toward the best habits for you. All this being said I want to remind you that a habit that works for one person might not work for someone else. That doesn’t make your habit “bad” or the other person’s habit “better.” Just different.
Ok let’s dive in:
Take out a piece of paper or start a new document or note on your phone or computer.
- Who do you want to be: Before we dive into specific habits. Write down a few sentences describing the type of person you want to be. If you haven’t read Atomic Habits by James Clear add it to your reading list for early 2022. He talks about habits as a vote for or against the person you want to be: identity based habits. So if you want to be fit every time you work out or are active you are placing a vote for that person you want to be. If you want to be a writer every time you take time to write you are voting for the person you want to be. Once you’ve done this you will have a clear picture of the type of person you want to be ideally and what habits that ideal might have.
- What are you already doing?: Take an inventory of your current habits. Write down the things you are doing that are working well and the things you are doing that aren’t toward the person you want to be. For example you want to exercise more often but the only time you might be able to squeeze it into your schedule is 6:00am. But you scroll your phone until 1:00am. The scrolling might be holding you back from being able to cast that vote for being a person who exercises regularly.
- Find habits that can help each other out: Which ones could help each other? Or which one’s are creating negative interest? When you look at your current habits which ones compliment each other and create support. So if you are someone who wants to be a writer and you journal already these two habits might work really well together because you are already in a habit of writing. The example of scrolling your phone until late might be creating negative interest for both getting up early but also for healthy sleep habits in general.
- Pick one maybe two: Once you have determined which habits you want to create (focus on the ones you want to create first), pick one maybe two, not 5 or 10 it’s too much. It will feel overwhelming. Once you have selected your habit break it down into a super small chunk. As James Clear says find a way to master the art of showing up. If you make it too challenging, for example I will run 10km every day. You will inevitably have a time when that won’t be able to happen. But maybe the habit is I will move my body intentionally for a minimum of 10 mins everyday or 5 mins everyday. Remember small bite size actions accumulate over time.
- Reframe these habits into choices: Ask yourself the question, what am I choosing today? What choices do I have? Remind yourself that habits are choices that you make over and over and over again. That’s how they become habits.
Now some key things to remember. If you only do a habit for a set amount of time (i.e. 21 days), it’s a goal not a habit. Goals are great but habits may be the key to long term success. Also just a friendly reminder that coaches are great at helping people stay accountable or helping people find ways to hold themselves accountable for their habit changes. Reach out to a coach to learn more on shifting habits.