2 simple tricks to make your new habits stick
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
For the best part of 2020 we’ve been forced to change our habits; how we socialise, work, exercise and organise our time.
Have you managed to start and keep any new habits going?
And are there any recurring habits that you just can’t kick? Perhaps setting work/home boundaries is difficult. Exercising as winter sets in and no gym access is tricky. Screen time is out of control.
Habits are a tricky beast. We have sooooo many habits. Most of the good. Brushing our teeth, looking before we cross the road, locking the door, saying please and thank you (I hope!).....
However, as you are more than aware. We also have many bad habits. Let’s take screen time for example, not only is it bad for our eyes, bad that we are constantly kept alert, bad that it’s lessening our human interactions and making us move less. Furthermore this habit, like many of our other bad habits, causes frustration and possibly stress everytime we repeat it because we know it is bad for us.
So how do we break these habits…..with willpower. Right?
Something came to my attention a couple of weeks ago, I heard (I listen to A LOT of podcasts so I’m sorry for not being able to cite the reference) someone saying that why do we always think that our future selves have more willpower than our present selves. Why will future you go to the gym and not the present you?!! I thought that was inspired.
We do give our future selves more credit when it comes to willpower. The credit I give to future Monday Alexa is always very high. And yet somehow she never delivers.
And if we can’t rely on our willpower alone. How can we conquer this habit breaking thing?
And this brings me onto the 2 simple techniques which both take having a low or lack of willpower into consideration.
1) Make it easy.
Habit researchers know that new habits are more likely to stick when we clear away the obstacles that stand in our way. Research psychologist Dr Wendy Wood says to combat this she began sleeping in her running clothes to make it easier to roll out of bed in the morning, slip on her running shoes and run.
Think about how easy it is to buy off Amazon, they have made it as easy as possible for us to consume. Companies are making it easier for us buy and spend more, “but people don’t exploit and understand in their own lives,” according to Dr Wood.
So how does that work for you. How can you make it easy for you?
Want to reduce screen time → purchase an alarm clock. The first thing you look at/hear in the morning isn’t your phone. Helping you start your day with less screen time.
Want to eat more fruit and vegetable→ keep fruit in a more visible place. Put the fruit bowl in a more prominent place, move the vegetables to the fridge shelf that is most in your eye line.
Think of what habit you want to change and how you can make it easier for yourself.
When we are able to recognise that our willpower is not always as strong as we think it is, it helps us to not be so critical of ourselves and to make and have a plan B. So that when we “break” a bad habit we don’t need to start again from zero, which as we all know can be extremely de-motivating.
Which is why we need to prepare for our weaknesses and make plans to combat it when our willpower is high.
We need to create an “If/When…...then” plan. So that if /when a difficult situation occurs then we have a practical plan in place to cope with any problems that might stop us from continuing to change the habit.
If/when you don’t want to go to the gym (you don’t have time, you’re tired, it’s raining), then you will do a short exercise video in your house.
That way you are still exercising, you still have some feeling of completing the goal.
If/when you are spending too much time on social media, then you will change your screen to black and white mode (grayscale).
So that the phone becomes instantly less interesting and you are more likely to put it down.
Not only do “Making it easy” and “If/when….then” actually mean that we are more likey to do something to support the new habit. But it also helps to reduce the feelings of self-frustration and keep our motivation high to keep trying to practice and therefore establish the new habit. Because as we all know too well, practice makes progress.
Always here to help you find the light,
Want to go deeper with your professional and personal development?
2) I’ll be delivering another workshop (hooray!) in December “From fear to growth”. Look out for details or contact me to save your virtual place.
3) I’ll be running a new Group Masterclass, starting late January 2020. If you think you might be interested, I strongly suggest attending the workshop so that you can see if my approach and style is something that you think could really benefit you and take you to the next level.