Something funny happened the other morning. My routine is pretty much the same every day. I put my daughter on the bus and then head right over to the gym. A couple of mornings ago like always I dropped my little one off, jumped in my car and 7 minutes later I was pulling into the parking lot of my gym. The only problem was that I was expected somewhere else!!! My habit took over and without me even thinking it took me down a path I had always followed. Well I made my appointment (though about 7 minutes late lol) and it got me thinking about habits and how powerful they are.
According to Webster’s dictionary HABIT is defined as:
A behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or performance. An acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.
So many times we hear that we have to “break our bad habits.” That may seem overwhelming. Eat right, exercise every day. If you have every tried to quit smoking (I have) you realize that it is not as easy as just stopping. I want to provide you with a different approach. Instead of trying to break a bad habit shift the perspective and create a new one. A habit that better serves your goals. So here are the three way that I teach my clients how to create new habits.
1-Stop and think. Why did I wind up in my gym parking lot instead of my appointment? I did not stop and think about what I had to do. This is the first step in creating a new habit. Habit is involuntary and happens without thinking. But if we stop for just a moment and think about what we are doing and ask the question “does this serve my goals?"it will cause us to delay the action. For example, if you always have desert after you eat, once you are done with dinner stop for 5 minutes before you reach for the sweet treat. Are you still hungry? Will eating this cake serve your goals.
2-Make a better choice. This is the most important step. Creating new habits about making better choices. We never give ourselves the time to consider a different choice (see point #1). In that pause we can make a decision and base what we do next on that decision. Using the same desert example. We have decided that we are not hungry so our habit of eating a sweet after dinner does not make sense, we now have a choice. Some examples of better choice based on some common goals:
If getting healthy is a goal I could decide to have a cup of berries instead of a slice of cake. Both are sweet but the berries are a better choice.
If getting closer to my family and spending more quality time is a goal I could go for an after dinner walk with my family. Or I could call a friend.
If growing my relationship with God is a goal I could say a prayer, read my bible or a short devotional
All of these choices serve my goal. Remember your goal and make a better choice.
3-Repeat: Remember habit is created by frequent repetition. If you want these new habits to stick you have to do them over and over again. Your habit of eating a sweet after dinner may have started in childhood. It took decades to develop!! You are not going to creating a new one by doing it once or even 5 times. That’s where people disconnect. In this age of immediate gratification, we give up when we don’t get the result we want immediately. Human default is ease and comfort above all else. When it gets hard and we feel like it would be so much easier if we just ate the darn cake!!!
That’s where the enemy waits whispering in our ear that you deserve that cake. One slice won’t hurt. You can worry about getting healthy tomorrow. All lies to keep us right where we are struggling, frustrated and thinking we are never going to get this healthy living right.
Ladies please be strong!! Remember who you are!! A daughter of a king and not weak!! Take these tips into your heart. Take a moment, make a better choice and repeat. I want to hear about the new habits that you are going to create and what better choices you are going to make. Please leave a comment and share with me.