In life, you are bombarded daily with information. You may also have an overwhelming sense of needing to accomplish and succeed. When you are consciously awake and living life, you automatically form behavioural habits and patterns.
Some habits can seem trivial and unimportant, like biting your nails or brushing your teeth. The truth is that habits are hugely impactful on your overarching mental and physical health, as well as on your overall sense of self.
If you don’t form habitual structures or routines, you will struggle to be consistent with change and reaching goals. Habit change starts today – right now – with one action and one behavioural change.
Life can often be overwhelming, and it can be hard to know where to start to initiate positive change – it all starts with the smallest of steps.
Use the following four (4) tips and actionable steps to start setting the foundations for creating habitual and behavioural change:
Tip #1 – Improve Your Routine
Your routine is your secret to success!
What does your morning look like?
- Your alarm goes off, you hit snooze a couple of times, you scroll through social media and emails in bed, you rush to get ready for the day and feel unsettled most of the day, OR
- Your alarm goes off, you sit up and drink a glass of water, get up, brush your teeth, shower, get dressed and have a healthy breakfast. You’ve got time so you sit down and journal for 5-minutes and set your intentions for the day. You’re not rushing, so you might even engage in positive and helpful conversations with your loved ones, house mates or a quick text with a friend or loved one to say good morning.
I know what I would prefer my morning to look like. However, creating and maintaining a routine is part of habitual and behavioural change.
If you are in the first scenario, the first habit you would start with is hitting the snooze button! Have your phone or alarm on the other side of the room for 3-weeks. When your alarm goes off, you’re out of bed!
*Remember to only change one or two things at a time so you are not overwhelmed.
Tip #2 – Set a SMALL Goal Right Now
A goal for a new daily habit might simply be to be more present and calm. Set your own ‘action alarm’ – each time you are feeling stressed, get into the habit of labelling it as an ‘alarm’, and immediately implement calming actions such as:
- Breathe slowly;
- Take a break;
- Close your eyes, or
- Count to ten.
You can use these alarms to remind you of your intentions. This allows you to build on these small habits by practising your response to your alarms 5 times a day (just one a day is not enough to really implement effective habits).
By learning to read stress signals and having a positive and opposite practise, to the negative feelings, that you repeatedly and immediately initiate, you will create habit change rapidly!
Tip #3 – Use Moments to Activate Habit Change
Piggybacking on a pre-existing habits is one of the easiest and fastest ways to create and activate new habits, throughout your day. You can either add the new habit on at the same time or add it immediately before or after your pre-existing habit.
For example, When you brush your teeth before bed, which is one of our most inherent habits, start thinking about all of the things that you are grateful for or an affirmation about yourself. Immediately after you have brushed your teeth, you write in your gratitude journal. Sustaining the newly formed habit is the hardest part. This is where most people fall down, and why the set-up of new habits is so important.
You have to set yourself up for success.
Be energised, engaged and enthusiastic to truly reap the benefits of cumulative positive habits.
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Tip #4 – Daily Reminders for Success
Set yourself daily reminders to practice and activate your new habits and behaviours. Some ideas for this include:
- Write post-it notes to yourself and stick them around the house;
- Create a colourful and bright poster with your new habits and stick them where you will look regularly, and
- Set alarms on your phone and laptop devices reminding you to participate in your newly formed habits.
You can truly change your life by using associations, alarms and reminders with your habit change.
When you find yourself interrupted in life, stick firmly to your positive habits and positive intentions.
Eventually, these new habits will become the new norm, and your life will continue to reap the benefits of your subconscious, positive and habitual changes!
Setting up routines and habits, AND remaining consistent with them, is one of the biggest challenges my community face with their journey towards building a healthy and happy lifestyle.