Cultivate Habits that Support Lasting Change

habits routines Jun 24, 2021

If I asked you what habits you currently have, you may say that you brush your teeth every day, you park in the same spot at the office, you take the same route to the bank, you always have a salad with your dinner. 

Habits are the things you do without thinking because the actions have become so much part of you, you no longer question whether they are serving you. They just happen on auto-pilot.

Have you heard of such a thing as decision fatigue? That’s when you have made so many decisions, that you are actually fatigued. I’m not referring to big, life changing decisions, but rather decisions like what you are going to wear, which bowl you will eat your oatmeal from, whether you should pull out of the driveway before or after that car coming down the street passes you. 

These little, minute decisions add up to a point where we are actually tired from thinking so much. It’s why at the end of the day, despite having committed (for the hundredth time) to going to the gym, you stay home and binge watch your newest favorite show on Netflix.

Until your actions become a habit, you have to put some serious thought into taking the actions. Even something as simple as turning on your laptop when you sit down at your desk took some thinking before it developed into a habit.

You made the decision to sit down and thought about what work needed to get done. You decided that checking your email would be a good place to start or perhaps opening up a certain app on your desktop. You made the decision that you will turn on your laptop as soon as you sit down so that you can start right away.

Day One- you sat down, considered your options, and pushed the button on your computer. You got started right away and were rewarded by accomplishing a task. Day Two came along, and since you were a bit more productive the day before from having turned on your computer as soon as you sat down, you decided to do it again.

Day after day, you made the decision to turn on your computer as soon as you sat down until one day, you sat down at your desk, pushed the button on your computer, and caught a glimpse of a post-it you had scratched the day before that reminded you to call your mom at 9 am. 

It is then that you realize that a habit was set. You no longer had to think about turning on the computer. You just automatically did it as soon as you sat in the desk chair. It wasn’t until that habit got interrupted that you noticed that it was just something you did without thinking.

That’s how habits work. Every habit has a trigger, a response, and a reward. In this example, the trigger is sitting down at your workspace. The response is the habit itself, turning on your computer while the reward is the satisfaction you feel from having completed a task.

The habits are formed through repetition and can be broken just the same, although it may be a bit more difficult depending on the amount of time you spent doing whatever it is you were doing. Habits take time and patience to be established but are well worth working on because creating habits allows you the space to be more creative.

I have a workbook that will guide you through the steps to build habits that stick. If you want to grab a copy, click here!

A string of habits can grow into routines by attaching to one another. Let’s talk about morning routines, because the bookends of your day seem to be a place where routines can best serve you. If you find that mid-morning, you are ready to collapse and you already feel behind in your day, this might be a clue that you are in need of establishing some habits.

So, where do you even start? Before you set the alarm clock or get out of bed, I want you to get out a piece of paper and write down how you would like to feel come 9 am. Motivated? Content? Prepared? Accomplished?

What activities do you think you would need to include in order to feel this way? If you want to feel motivated, perhaps you should say some affirmations or do some visualization of your goals. Want to feel prepared? Do some planning of your day, set some intentions, and review your schedule. 

Then, write your actions down, starting with actions you already take. 

>>Turn off your alarm

>>Do some stretches

>>Pull back the blanket

>>Turn on the lamp on your nightstand

>>Sit up & drop feet to floor

>>Put feet in slippers

>>Name three things for which you are grateful (new habit) 

>>Walk to the bathroom

>>Use the toilet

>>Wash hands

>>Put toothpaste on toothbrush

>>Brush teeth

>>Put toothbrush back in holder

>>Say a positive affirmation out loud (new habit)

To help you remember that you wanted to start a mental gratitude list while putting on your slippers, you could set a reminder for yourself. Maybe, put a stone on the inside sole, so that when you feel it, your memory will be jogged. Or, switch your slippers so when you switch them back, you will remember why they were switched in the first place (to jog your memory).

Same thing goes for the affirmations. The night before, you can tape a slip of paper with an affirmation written on it onto the bathroom sink mirror. Stick with the same affirmation for a few days until the habit of saying the affirmation is no longer work. Until it becomes a habit.

These strategies help to make a habit stick because isn’t that the whole point? Of course, we have habits that serve us and other habits that don’t. It’s the habits that serve us that we want to cultivate and use to push us forward in our lives, towards that better version of ourselves.

When you successfully establish a habit that serves you, you simultaneously open up space in your life to be more creative and follow your passions. You no longer have to be preoccupied with thinking of which decision will be the right one, but rather that decision becomes a no-brainer.

The habits string together to form routines and it's the routines that will keep you moving towards the life you desire. I urge you to take a look at the habits that you are cultivating and make the decision to establish habits that serve you. Start small, but start period.

Want a guide to help you build new habits in your life? Click here. Habits are the building blocks to a better life because they allow you the space to explore your passions. What habits do you want to build? Tell me in the comments!



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