Good, bad, or indifferent; habits are an incredibly powerful phenomenon.
Do any of these habit shifts sound familiar?
- I want to take better care of my teeth by flossing more.
- I want to stop spending so much money at the coffee shop.
- I want to increase my stamina by taking the stairs
- I want to stop eating potato chips.
- I want to stop spending so much time on my device.
Let’s break these habit shifts down and think of the most effective way to create success. One of the best ways to effect a change in habit is to connect to the “why.”
“I want to take better care of my teeth by flossing more.”
- The why: “I don’t want my teeth to fall out.” The key to success here is to tie a new habit (flossing) to an existing habit (brushing your teeth).
“I want to stop spending so much money at the coffee shop.
- The why: “I want to save money for a new jacket.” If the habit you want to break is pleasurable, adding a different, less expensive alternative can help. Thinking “if I pass that coffee shop, I will have a cup of tea when I get to the office and I will be $8 closer to that new jacket.”
“I want to increase my stamina by taking the stairs.”
- The why: “I want to be able to run a 5K by the end of summer.” In addition to the “why,” think about the environment in which you generally take an elevator and play the “if/then” game by preparing yourself for the specific environmental situation. Create a mental process that says “if I’m standing in front of the elevator, then I’m going to tell myself to take the stairs.”
“I want to stop eating potato chips.”
- The why: “I want to lose five pounds by the end of July.” Using a reward system may work in this situation. First, have an alternative snack option available and set up a reward system. “When I’ve lost three pounds, I will treat myself to a snack size bag of potato chips.”
“I want to stop spending so much time on my device.”
- The why: “I feel disconnected from my family when I’m on my device.” Here it is possible to use a limiting, environmental schedule shift thought process. For example, “I won’t get on my device until the kids are in bed.”
Keys to making and breaking habits:
- Examine motivation (what’s your “why”).
- Picture success (what does attaining the goal look like).
- Change habits slowly (start by walking, work up to a 5K run).
- Celebrate progress, not just success (celebrating and rewards along the way creates momentum).
- Connect a new habit to old habit (flossing to brushing).
- Explore alternatives (If / Then).
- Create timing/environmental triggers (when kids are in bed . . .).
- Make a plan and schedule it (take a walk first thing in the morning).
- Enlist an accountability buddy (someone invested in your success).
For more information, I’d highly suggest reading Making Habits, Breaking Habits by Jeremy Dean.
What habits do you want to make or break? What’s your next step?
Cindy Jobs, COC, ACC
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Level I Certificates earned in Chronic Disorganization; ADD; Client Administration; Time Management; Mental Health; and Hoarding.
Level II Specialist Certificates earned in Chronic Disorganization and ADHD.