Change is hard. Whether you’re trying to be different with your routine or alter a habit, the process can be daunting. That’s because these things are deep-rooted inside of you like the tallest oak tree. Chopping away at them takes time and hard work and failure, and over time your confidence and gusto can begin to falter.
As overwhelming as it may seem, your habits and routines are not permanent. They do not define you and you can make changes, but it’s going to take some effort.
In Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business, he describes habits as a loop composed of a cue, routine, and reward. The cue is what sets everything in motion. This could be a certain time of day, an emotion, location, or even people you surround yourself with. The routine is the habit itself. It’s the action that you are wanting to change. The reward, which can be the trickiest to define, is why the habit actually exists. The true reward can be hidden so it may take some investigative work and being honest with yourself to understand what’s driving your habit.
In order to begin changing your habit, you have to name and understand the cue, the routine and the reward. Knowing these three aspects of your habit will draw your unconscious habit into the forefront of your mind, and give you the platform you need to start altering your behavior.
Getting a grip on this “habit loop” isn’t all that you need in order to bring about change. You also have to be in the right state of mind.
Often times when making changes, you want to wait for the perfect moment. The start of a new year or the beginning of a month are all great times to tackle a new routine or bad habit. But do you know what’s even better than tomorrow or next week or next year? Now. There is no “right time” when you’re trying to break a habit. You have to stop putting it off and get started today.
Once you get started at making changes, remember to give yourself some grace. Chances are you’re going to slip up and that’s okay. It’s okay to make mistakes, but you still have to give yourself a little tough love. You may want to stay down when you fall off the wagon, you may want to nurse your wounds, but the longer you wait the harder it will be. Don’t discount how far you’ve made it already, and get back after it.
As easy as it is to read these words, taking action is another thing. Get to know what drives your habits and put steps in motion to make actual changes. Make sure to not overload yourself with a million things right off the bat. Start small. Give yourself little victories. Those small wins will add up to larger changes and give you a platform to build on. Remember that some changes are bigger than others so don’t expect to everything to take the same amount of time. Give yourself time and seek help from others if needed.
Cheers to new beginnings! What habit are you trying to break? What new routine are you trying to form? Let us know by tagging us on social with #LIFCommunity #jointhejourney.