It is so easy to fall into a routine and habit what we don’t even notice that we are doing it, most of the time. We get stuck in a groove and seem to just carry on rolling along it with no idea that we are there.
Does this sound familiar? Habits can be good, but often we find that we have developed bad habits (ones that don’t add value to our lives or actually take value from our lives) which are hard to shake as they become part of our beliefs and we look on them as normal or as a crutch.
They say that it takes 30 days to create a new habit. So when did we take the thirty days to build bad habits and negative beliefs? Surely we didn’t consciously choose to stop going to the gym or having a snack at 11 am with a large latte?
It is without realising that we build these habits into our daily lives. Sometimes they start as treats (think the muffin and large latte at 11 am) which then become routine and subsequently habit. It is by not really paying attention to what you are doing when things can, an do, get out of control. I am not saying that the occasional muffin and coffee will do you harm, but when it becomes habit and you stop noticing it as a treat and the pounds pile on because of it, then that is when it is not so nice.
I remember myself building a bad habit of having an espresso on my way to work in the mornings just to avoid a crazy lady (seriously, she would phone me while on holiday and all sorts…another story in itself!) that would attach to me on the bus journey. Even when she wasn’t at the stop, I would grab a coffee, then I might go for a second. I suddenly realised that I had developed a habit to buy coffee on my way to work. I had never needed an espresso to get me going in the morning (tea is more than sufficient) and I wasn’t particularly enjoying it or looking forward to it. Plus, I was spending money that I could have better used elsewhere and I ended up rather wired most mornings from the caffeine buzz!
Being able to identify when things are habits is an important first step in working out which ones you want to keep and which you want to kick to the curb.
Think about the habits that you have, you may be able to identify some of them very quickly such as biting your nails or cracking your knuckles (*cringe*) which I am sure you will realise are not benefiting you in the slightest. Other habits you may have to look out for during the day as they may come at times that you don’t expect and as I mentioned, many go undetected.
Keep a note of the habits, both bad and good, that you notice. Which of them benefit you and make you feel good, confident, happy, fulfilled and which drain you or take something away that you would really like to retain? Remember that habits aren’t necessarily visible, thoughts can become big habits too. Saying things to yourself like ‘I’m too stupid to be able to get a promotion’ etc. are also bad habits, so make sure that they get included in your list.
You now know the habits that you already have. Are there any that you would like to add? Perhaps taking more time to look after yourself, to meditate or to go walking during the work day? Add these to your list.
Now you need to work on building your new habits and removing the old ones. When getting rid of the old ones remember that you are not giving anything up, you are gaining from removing them. This way you won’t feel like you are going to be missing out on something, but you have something wonderful to get back and to enjoy in your life.
Building new habits can be as simple as choosing a certain time and place that you will do something, e.g. setting an reminder alarm in your phone to go for a 10 minute walk at lunch time (this is something that I am doing since starting to work from home – it is so easy to get sucked into my work and end up sat still at my desk all day!) You have to remember that you will need to be sure that you want the new habit otherwise you will just turn off the alarm and say to yourself ‘Ah, I’ll do it tomorrow’.
Make sure that the habits are both something you really want, benefit you and are good for those around you – you don’t want to create a new habit that will cause grief in your life somewhere else!
With thought habits, you can find a replacement for them which will help to remove them and fill the thought void with something that will bring you cheer, joy and (let’s face it) a better outlook on yourself. For example, if you think to yourself that you ‘will never get a pay rise’, replace it with ‘I can get a pay rise’ which will get you thinking in a productive positive way, which will become a positive habit and way of thinking. Positive thinking has a huge affect on life’s direction.
To make sure that you stay on track, why not tell trusted friends and family to keep you motivated and accountable? Comment below or over on Facebook and I will help keep you motivated by reminding you and giving you support.
There is an app called Lift that you can download into your phone to help you log your new habitual behaviours and gain support from the community also creating change in their lives.
What habits will you grow today?