Habit change is hard.
And it’s something I am fascinated with because if I can help my clients change their daily habits. I can help them make long lasting changes that will affect their health.
And their happiness.
Because being tired is hard.
Feeling healthy and happy is so much easier.
But why do we do what we do when we know what we know.
This was a question Sarah from Whole Health Lab and I asked a number of experts as part of an interview series we ran. You can check out what they said and listen into the interviews HERE>
A lot of their tips I incorporated last week into my 9 tips for creating healthy habits HERE.
But this week I want to dive a little deeper into what might make habit change so hard and what can we do anyways to create habits that make us feel good.
So what is a habit?
I’m going to define a habit as something that you do 95% of the time without having to consciously think about it to do it.
A habit forms because you have repeatedly practiced an activity and your brain creates a neural pathway. These behaviours become unconscious habits and only when you stop practicing the behaviour does your brain destroy the connecting cells that formed that original pathway.
So we know that practice is important, but how do we keep up the practicing long enough to form those pathways?
Your Identity And Habit Change
Well according to James Clear Habit Transformation Expert (Find out more about James HERE) one of the major barriers to long term habit change is your mindset. We try to change the behaviour, eat less, exercise more, however we don’t always work on our mindset, our beliefs and our identity.
So why is our mindset so important?
Well if what you believe your identity to be is not inline with the behaviours you want to change it will be hard to sustain the behaviour long term.
If you see yourself and believe yourself to be a healthy person then it will be a lot easier to implement a habit of exercise as this is in alignment with your core belief about yourself. However if you believe yourself to be an unhealthy or overweight person then you need to first start working on how you see yourself so to make sure its in alignment with the habit you want to develop.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Habits are the results of lots of tiny decisions that you make every day. ” quote=”Habits are the results of lots of tiny decisions that you make every day. “]
And then what you do every day transform you into the person you are or the person you want to be.
Changing your beliefs isn’t nearly as hard as you might think.
According to James, there are two steps:
- Decide the type of person you want to be.
- Prove it to yourself with small wins.
Honestly they really only need to be small. You are just working on becoming the person that does the action you want to achieve. And you need small wins to help start to actually believe that you can do it!
You can’t rely on being motivated.
You have to become the type of person you want to be, and that starts with proving your new identity to yourself.
Habit stacking really helps to make it even easier to make habit change stick.
So what is habit stacking?
Simply adding new behaviors you want to implement to habits that you already have ingrained into your day.
For example maybe you want to drink more water. So think of something you do every day, maybe its getting phone calls. So every time you answer the phone have a glass of water.
A great way to do this is to write a list of all the things you do every day.
Brush your teeth, have dinner, drive to work etc.
Then write another list of habits you want to incorporate into your life.
And add a new habit to an old habit. When ever you do one of your everyday tasks it will then trigger you to complete your new behaviour.
I love this one because it makes it easier to complete those actions you need to start changing your identity and beliefs so you can build your habit and get results!
Change Your Environment
A big part of habit change also has to do with changing the environment that you’re in and changing the interactions that you have with people.
Your environment has a massive impact on whether you actually make a lasting change in your life.
Jim Rohn says you are the average of the 5 people you hang around with the most and its sooo true that not only the people you spend time with but everything within your experience, within your day can have an impact on your behaviour.
Often current habits are responses to queues and triggers that you may not even be aware of that you come across in your current environment.
If you take a look at research shared in books like Mindless Eating, the author shares how much what we eat has more to do with cues from our environment rather than actual hunger. He found, if you use a big spoon, you’ll eat more. If you serve yourself on a big plate, you’ll eat more. If you move the small bowl of chocolates on your desk six feet away you’ll eat half as much. If you eat chicken wings and remove the bones from the table, you’ll forget how much you ate and you’ll eat more.
So even making small changes to your environment can have profound impacts on your habits. I know for me if I have chocolate or ice cream in the house I find it much harder to resist it than if I have to drive all the way to the shop to get it. Making sure that I have lots of healthy food in my house ready to grab at any time is one way I set up my environment to help me rather than be a temptation.
In what ways could you change your environment to help you keep your healthy habits? Let me know in the comments below.
Tracking Healthy Habits
I hope these tips have been useful!
Last week I shared why habit tracking can be so powerful and I also shared a free habits tracker you can download and print out to use to track your healthy habits:
Click HERE to download your free habits tracker
To your health,