Habit changes are not that complicated. The truth is, there’s really only a couple things you need to know. Follow these tips to help you change your habits.
“Change is hard.”—#SaidMostPeople
If change was easy, then we’d all be 5 pounds lighter, or two times stronger, eating green things as frequently as coffee, or NOT wishing things were different, but actually experiencing change.
By nature, humans do not like change.
It’s uncomfortable. It’s scary. And, it’s unknown.
Just like our bodies desire homeostasis (like water when we are thirsty, sleep when we are tired and coffee when we need a “pick me up”), our human brains desire homeostasis (balance, peace) too.
Back in the days of our ancestors, “homeostasis” for the human psyche meant: escaping the threats of bears, tigers and lions; protection from natural weather storms and disasters; feeling safe; and a sense of belonging with their community and tribe.
Fast forward to today and “homeostasis” for our human brains means: a sense of being in control; fitting in to the crowd (status); lots of “likes” on our Instagram status; achievement; and schedules (knowing what’s next).
Change is the opposite of that—it’s threatening. Habit changes can be very difficult.
Be it change in your nutrition or fitness; breaking up with a “bad” habit; a move; a new relationship (or loss of an old relationship); changing up your morning routine, change requires LOTS of brain power, self-coaching and soothing (for yourself) that “it’s okay,” “you can do this,” “it’s for the best,” and “it will pay off.”
If you’ve ever struggled with habit changes—particularly for your health and wellness (from changing up the types or amounts of food you eat in a day, to restraining from overexercise, to working to gain weight and build muscle, to eating less sugar or coffee, to getting ore sleep)—here are 5 hacks for habit changes (and making it easier)
7 HABIT CHANGES THAT WORK
Make a list of things you do that make you happy and feel good. Then, make a list of things you do every day. Compare the list and adjust accordingly. If you REALLY are not content with a current habit in your life, assess to see if it aligns with the things that make you feel good and adjust accordingly. One step at a time.
You can also do a similar exercise with your personal goals in mind. What is your “big picture,” long-term goal for your health, body and wellness? (i.e. “I want to run a marathon,” “I want to gain 10 pounds,” etc.). Pick one to start. Then list the action steps you’re CURRENTLY taking in your life that support this goal. Where do you see gaps? Where do you see you’re spinning your wheels or your actions are NOT aligning with your goal(s)? What are the top habit changes you truly desire?
Consider what (if anything) may be standing in your way, and what (if anything) could be one do-able action in the right direction.
2. UNDERSTAND YOUR STAGE OF CHANGE
There are 6 primary stages of change, and throughout the change process, we can go in and out of each of these stages, often repeating them in the process. A mistake many people make when it comes to “making a change” is believing they are READY, when they actually are not. What stage of habit changes are you in—really?
Not ready; Resistance; Second-guessing; Say you “want” change, but you’re actually really not ready to take steps and/or your current values don’t align with what you say you want (such as saying, “I want to eat healthier,” but not wanting to “give up” takeout dinners or make time for meal prep).
Thinking about habit changes, learning about habit changes and increasing awareness of your own ambivalence or resistance to habit changes; Start using “change” talk—statements of determination, ability, and reasons needing commitment.
Learning and acquiring information about what is required to make change happen (talking to people who have made the habit changes before, reading, researching, etc).
Beginning to construct a plan for how habit changes will play out in your life; Getting ready for big things to happen
Putting your plan into action and taking the steps necessary.
The changes you’ve made have become habits. You’re now ready to embark upon another habit changes.
3. FOCUS ON 1 THING
Have you ever tried to bite off more than you can chew? Never-ending to-do list that’s constantly growing? How well did anything get done? (Crickets. Crickets.) Exactly. Now, what if you were to focus on getting just ONE thing done at a time?
Magic! There is power in focus, and the same thing applies to making a BIG change a reality. Focus on ONE thing at a time—as simple as one new (consistent) change each week that moves the needle forward towards your greater goals.
4. WORK WITH YOUR PERSONALITY
When it comes to change: Are you an upholder? A questioner? A rebel? An obliger?Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations (I’m an Upholder, 100%)
- Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense.
- Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.
- Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves.
Take the 4 Tendencies Quiz to find out. Chances are if you go AGAINST your natural personality type when it comes to making a change, than change WON’T be easy. If you’re an upholder, consider making a black-and-white plan for yourself or check-list. So, if you’re a questioner, soak up all the information and knowledge you can about the areas of change. If you’re a rebel, make up your own rules—not someone else’s for you. But, if you’re an obliger, seek out accountability. Work WITH yourself…not against yourself.
1. THINK IT’S EASY
“It’s so hard,” you say. Then of course it’s going to be hard! “This is not bad!” or “I can do this,” or “It’s actually simple!” Then easy, peasy lemon squeezy. Your mind is a powerful force to be reckoned with
2. PUT ON YOUR “SUPER HERO” OR “DISNEY PRINCESS” MINDSET
Remember being a little kid and putting on your superhero cape, NBA basketball jersey or Disney princess dress? You TOTALLY thought you were Spiderman, Michael Jordan or Belle (from Beauty & the Beast). And you TOTALLY acted JUST like Spiderman, MJ and Belle did.
The same rules can apply to trying to make change possible. How would “ideal,” changed, thriving you act, talk, choose, etc.? So as we think, therefore we become. Put yourself in the mindset and the SAME shoes as “that girl” or “that guy” that you WANT to be, and PRETEND to be her or him. When we do, decisions and change we want becomes second nature.
3. MAKE A PLAN—& TELL SOMEONE
Don’t keep your plans to yourself. There is power in accountability and support. Make your plan, your intention or your goal for change—then tell someone about it. Better yet, check in with them regularly.