We have heard a lot about habits, goal setting, and how it takes 21 days to begin a new habit BUT have you ever really learned how to adapt a new habit that you can easily do?
Let me tell you why I ask this crazy question. I am reading a wonderful book that I highly recommend to anyone that is trying to adapt any kind of habit, it is called Atomic Habits by James Clear. He really breaks down the reasoning of why things become habits and others don’t.
The Why behind a habit
It all comes down to automation. I told you it was an easy concept. How long did it take you to adapt the habit of taking a shower? The answer I am hoping for is not long at all. The reason being is because you received a reward to taking a daily shower. The reward was- you don’t stink or offend others. Your cue could have began when you noticed if you skipped this task, then you didn’t smell so pleasant and your response was to take a shower and you would smell good and feel more confident about yourself, am I right so far?
Now it is a unconscious habit that you don’t even have to think about, you just get up and do it, you make time for it, you don’t skip it. So let’s look at some other automated habits.
- brushing your teeth
- brushing your hair
- taking a shower
- putting on deodorant
- getting dressed
- making breakfast
- brewing coffee
- setting your alarm
- packing a lunch
- buying lunch
- working out
- weigh yourself
- hanging up a towel to dry
- putting out your clothes for the next day
- packing your gym bag
- Going through a drive thru on the way to work
- charging your phone
- driving to work
- taking the kids to school
- check your email
- turn on the TV to watch the news
- scroll through social media
Which are your good habits?
Take a look at the list above and put a + next to the things that you consider a good habit and a – next to the ones that you think are negative habits. Everybody’s list and marks will be a little different, depending on their own personal situation and goals. How does your results look compared to the lifestyle you desire? Are there some negative (-) habits you could change for more positive (+) ones to make your daily habits appear a little more favorable?
This task is simply to show you what you spend your day doing that you don’t even have to think about. Think about what your goals are and if these behaviors help you become more of your desired identity or against it? Take ownership of the things you do on the daily by taking a hard look at your own list. Make no excuses for the (-) and no pats on the back for the (+) just own them all.
The first step towards positive change is to acknowledge where you are at and where you want to be and then set a plan of action to get from point A to point B (much like taking a vacation). Think about it, when you are planning your vacation, you plan out every detail from airfare, hotels, places to eat, things to see and do and then you make a plan of action for every minute of the time you are there. Why is what you do every day any different?
Call out your actions out loud. Walking through the steps of what needs to be done gives you a higher probability of actual doing them. Have you ever noticed when you are leaving the house in a hurry that you go through the steps, “I have my keys, I have my phone, and I have my wallet or purse” By going through your list out loud, you are acknowledging the action that needs to be done. Awareness is the KEY factor when it comes to automation.
Each task should answer these questions. What is the action that I must do for the outcome I am after? What triggers make me choose option A over B? What reward am I receiving (we don’t do anything without a benefit?
Try making a list of the things you do every single day that are automatic, rate them, and then look at them against where you want to be in life. This will help you adopt more positive habits in place of the negative ones when you see clearly where the issues are. Then make a list of the things you can change to replace the negative ones and work on making them automated.