Did you know that you perform 40-45% of your daily activities without thinking about it? These automatic behaviors are demonstrated each day in nearly the same situation.
For example, you wake up to your alarm in the morning; you get out of bed, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, you make coffee, etc.
These habits develop over time through a process called Associative Learning. Sister, all this fancy, technical phrase means is that something brings to mind something else that initiates a response from you.
As someone smarter than me explained, we discover patterns of behavior (i.e. habits) that help us reach our goals. Then, as associations between cues and responses are formed, we continue to repeat what works.
Ok, so in middle-age-just-give-me-the-facts-ma’am terms, this simply means…
In order to create habits that stick, they must become a consistent part of your everyday world and a part of who you are.
It sounds easy… because it is. Ok, maybe not easy. Let’s go with simple.
I have created a simple, 5-step process that will help you hone in on the habits you want to create by first deciding which behaviors are serving you and which aren’t.
It will also help you determine where these new habits fit into your daily routine and how they will change who you are for the better.
Create the Life You Want – One Habit at a Time
Assess your overall situation. Are you motivated by the habits you are trying to incorporate into your life? Figure out what is working for you and what isn’t.
Let’s use my morning routine as an example. Night after night, I set my alarm for butt-crack early because I think I will get in a workout and a shower before my kids get up. But, er’y single morning I hit that snooze 15 (or 20) times, finally dragging my sorry self out of bed at 8:00 a.m.
Thank goodness for early rising husbands who love supervising the morning routine and driving kids to school.
As I take a good, hard look at what’s taking place (or not taking place) here, I can’t ignore the fact that this obviously isn’t working for me. Why do I keep setting the alarm for that time when I am clearly not motivated to accomplish what I have set in place?
Perhaps the language I am using to define my new habit needs to change. Instead of saying I want to get up early so I can work out and shower before my kids get up, I should adjust the verbiage to something like “I want to live a healthier lifestyle” or “I want to create a morning routine that helps me begin the day feeling relaxed and in control.”
Most of the time we set ourselves up to fail in the follow-through of new habits simply because we aren’t identifying them properly.
If you want a habit to stick, it has to be something that truly motivates you.
✔ Let go
Think hard about the transformation you desire. After you have evaluated what is working and what isn’t in your daily routine, release the well-intentioned behaviors that aren’t motivating you.
Identify new verbiage for those habits you want to create in a way that projects an affirmation or manifestation of who you want to become. Then you will take on the identity of this new habit.
That whole “get up early, work out, and shower before the kids get up” is obviously not a realistic or practical target for yours truly. It’s never gonna work if I am not motivated to get up and do it.
If you are going to be true to yourself and live on purpose, decide what that looks like for you.
✔ Say YES to yourself
Give yourself permission to be OK with the new habit you have identified. It is important to realize that whatever new behaviors you adopt for yourself won’t just change you. They will also have an influence on those around you.
When I make the choice to live a healthier life because that’s who I am, that doesn’t have to look like what it looks like for someone else who aspires for the same.
For them, it may look like a perky 4:00 a.m. rise-and-shine without snoozes. But for me, it might mean drinking a yummy smoothie at the breakfast table with my kids or beginning each day at my own pace… because news-flash – homegirl isn’t exactly a morning person. And she has no intentions of becoming one.
If you want to create the life that you desire, you must understand who you are… and allow it.
✔ Take action
Once you have identified your new habit, it is important that you prioritize it and take action. It must really matter to you.
We’re all busy. We have kids, families, jobs, responsibilities at home, so order in our everyday lives is critical.
If you want your new habit to become a lifestyle, it must be a part of a structured routine.
If your new habit is to work out every day, wouldn’t it be incredible if it became second nature like brushing your teeth?
That is the goal, sister – lasting change for you and those around you. What you do consistently is who you ultimately become.
✔ Find accountability
I can’t even tell you how important this step is. In fact, without some accountability, the previous steps might be aimless darts.
Tell others what you are doing and get them on board with you.
Identify those people in your circle of influence (spouse, close friend, colleague) who will support you, encourage you, and tell you what you need to hear – even when you don’t want to hear it.
Sister, the key to creating the life you want is embracing new habits that stick (much like those holiday goodies are clinging to my thighs) and become a part of who you are.
Are you sitting on a new habit that you would like to become a consistent part of your everyday world? Perhaps you need help with the language surrounding it so you are motivated to make it happen.
I would love to hear all about it in our fabulous Facebook community. Come on over and share your thoughts with us. This is a safe place for you to try on a little accountability, too.
If you missed last week’s post about the secret sauce to maintaining healthy habits, you can check it out here.