I had a conversation with a friend today in which she shared that she was tired of things being the same in her life. She is frustrated that her life today looks the same way it did last year. Along with other small goals, her 3 main goals last summer were to save more money, to lose weight, and to move into a place of her own. This summer, none of those main goals have been met and while she has had a year of learning, of overcoming, and of growing as a person, her life ‘isn’t where she wants it to be’
You are what you repeatedly do.
So if what you repeatedly do is make excuses, give justifications, choose laziness, or take the convenient road or the comfortable path, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that your life doesn’t look the way you hope. Hope does not equate to action and only action, habits, good habits result in meeting your goals.
Our minds work in cycles, something sets us off, (the trigger) we respond with an action (the habit) and we benefit by doing so (the reward). In my friend’s case, she sees new shoes she loves (trigger) she tries them on (habit) and then she purchases them (reward). Or maybe she’s hungry (trigger), she heads to a drive-thru (habit), and she receives her meal within minutes (reward).
So how do you change your bad habits?
Set yourself up for success. If you’ve ever set a goal to accomplish something that takes time, isn’t always fun, and requires work, you know that preparation is key. If you want to lose weight and decide to start going to the gym you don’t wake up one day and just head there, you prepare. You find a gym, buy a membership, make sure you have workout clothes, and you put a firm start date and time in your mind to go, as well as know specifically what you’re going to do when you arrive. On start day you are prepared, you know that mornings will work best for your schedule so after you wake up and have breakfast, your next move is to head toward the gym. The trigger is you waking up and dressing for the gym. The habit is that as soon as breakfast is over you get in the car and drive straight there and the reward is a completed workout and the rest of your day to yourself.
The good news about changing your bad habits into good and productive habits is that when the rewards are things we want, like losing weight, or seeing our savings account balance grow, we tend to do them more often.
So no matter what you want to change in your life, whatever bad habit you’d like to rid yourself of, begin by inserting a new behavior and forming a new habit. The routine and the reward will eventually happen without you even thinking about it. The most important part is the red arrow, the time between being triggered and doing the habit. Prepare by have a fresh goal and a positive and healthy habit in place.
Concept based on Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit.