Whatever your goal is, it requires that you begin implementing specific habits that will get you there.
Habits are the pathway to our goals.
When I decided I wanted to eat better, I created a habit around planning my meals with healthy, wholesome and clean dishes. When I decided to create my 9 month Empowered Living course, I created a habit of carving out blocks of uninterrupted time in coffee shops to get my weekly lessons planned. And now, as my goal is to publish weekly blogs, I've created a habit of writing every week.
So what's your goal? What's the one daily HABIT that will allow you to get there? If you're seeking more calm and ease, maybe it's doing a daily meditation practice. Or if your goal is to sleep better, maybe your new habit is to cut out caffeine. Pick just one habit for now – single focus your attention and get better results.
Once you've established your habit, you need a strategy to begin to embed it into your life.
Over the past few years I've immersed myself in the art and science of habit change. Below are a few tips and tricks that learned along the way.
- Write down your vision. First things first. Get VERY clear on why you want your new habit. If you haven't created a powerful vision – do it now. Change doesn't come without difficulty, so unless you've established a strong enough why, you won't have any fuel to get through the tough parts.
Start with a tiny habit. That's right, let go of the myth that "bigger is better", or "go big or go home". I once tried to run a race in grade school sprinting out of the gate... and ended up last. You can always build on baby steps, but if you bite off more than you can chew – you won't be able to sustain that amount of effort. (ex. Meditate for one minute)
Choose a trigger.You need a reminder to do your new habit. There are 5 possible triggers: specific time, specific place, prior action, other person, emotion. (ex. I will meditate for one minute after I wake up – prior action: wake up) You might need a reminder for your reminder – set an alarm on your smartphone, plaster your house with post-it's, tell your partner to remind you (unless your partner is more forgetful than you are - like mine is)
Stick with it. Do your tiny habit NO MATTER WHAT. Embody the yogic practice of abhyasa – continuous practice over a long period of time, against all odds, and in the face of repeated failures, with intention. That's right – Every. Single. Day. Any big accomplishment ever made was done with steady and consistent practice. So even if you're really tired one day, or you don't feel like it, or whatever other excuse you might have that day – do it anyway and start keeping promises to yourself.
Look for obstacles. It sounds counter-intuitive, but you can think of it as being prepared for the worse and then having a strategy in place with things fall apart. What obstacles might arise in doing your habit? What's likely to get in the way? Brainstorm what's stopped you in the past and then make an action plan of navigating your way around it.
Visualize success. See yourself carrying out your new habit. Imagine the scenario in your head. Start the create the circuitry in your brain to stick with your plan. Our minds are powerful tools when we know how to use them.
p.s. If your goal is to get rid of a bad habit – replace it with a better one. It's really hard to eliminate habits, it's much easier to put something better in its place. I gave up coffee by replacing it with Macha green tea. It gave me the same sense of ritual, comfort and yumminess that I got from coffee – but so much better for me.
So take some time to go through the steps outlined above and get started on your path to your goal.
What obstacles have you come up against in changing habits? I would love to help you trouble-shoot a strategy. Take me up on my offer for a free 30 minute strategy session here. Let's get on the phone and chat. I promise that when we're done you'll have so much more clarity : )
This is part II of a 10 part series on Resolve to Evolve.