Habits … The good kind. They’re a pain right? And we all have at least 10 habits we are trying to incorporate in our lives at the same time. Eat less carbs throughout the day, go to the gym, get more sleep, etc. These are examples of “habits” we want to add to our lives because we believe they will improve us a little more. Yet, how often do we follow through with them?
Lets first take a look at what a habit is. Dictionary.com says:
1. an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary
Example: looking both ways before you cross the street
Seems simple. But we all know it isn’t. I’m going to offer some easy steps to forming habits and keeping them
Why don’t we keep habits? Because habits take an awful lot of motivation. Say I wanted to cultivate cooking as a habit. It has remained a fantasy for me because in order to make it a habit, that would mean I would have to start by figuring out what it is I wanted to eat (I’m extremely indecisive, so that in itself takes a while). Then after choosing a recipe, I would need to go to the grocery store to get fresh ingredients to cook with. And that typically would be after I’m done with work and I’m usually beat after that. Once I get to the store, I have to deal with finding parking and the crowds of people who all have the same intentions I do, stand in line to check out, then go home and actually cook it. Thats a lot of effort. This is the way my mind works, and many of us, I’m sure! Silly thoughts like these are what gives us “excuses” and keeps us from forming good habits. So… Whats the solution? Start small!
Baby steps. Add something to your routine that is smaller than small. Something that requires little, to no effort. For example: mine would be picking out a recipe. I know what you’re thinking… whats the point of that?? The goal is to cook a meal! But, by picking out a recipe every night to start, it becomes so easy and begins to require less and less effort, until it is a mindless action. BAM! Conquered! Now I can move on to the next step to get to my goal.
Another example would be flossing (see where I’m going with this?). You go to the dentist to get your teeth cleaned and the first thing the hygienist says is, “Have you been flossing?” Duh!! And you as the patient answers, “Not as much as I should be.” I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve heard that. So… she says you need to floss more. Who goes home and starts flossing everyday from that point on? Nobody. Baby steps.
. We all need to be rewarded for doing a good job because when you reward yourself after a chore, your brain ties the reward to that action. That being said, try to pick a decent reward that wont make you regress, like a positive affirmation “I’m Awesome!” or “Way to go!” or “Yay, my gums aren’t bleeding!”. Try to avoid the temptations of the rewards we really want. Like the one that starts with the word “choco” and ends in “late”
At least not every time… and if you do, floss after
Last, but not least, remember that Failure is Success. Failure is a reminder that you tried in the first place and second time around, you’ll be that much better at it.
So whatever the habits are that you plan to work on to improve yourself, remember these steps and know you can do it! When you’re getting ready for bed this evening and you think of this blog, start small, rummage through your drawers, under the couch cushions, through the trash… wherever! But find that floss and set it out on the counter. Don’t even floss with it. Just be aware that it is there, in your sight, waiting to make your gums happy and healthy when you are ready to take the next steps. Once you’ve conquered flossing, then you can move on to conquering the world
Good luck and Happy Habit Making!!