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Growth

Creating Habits that Stick

March 3, 2021

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Have you ever struggled with consistency when it comes to building new habits? I think we all have.

The first thing I want to point out is that we are not alone.

I am not able to even remember the number of times I would start implementing a morning routine like meditation and exercise. Anyone else?

I struggled with all of this for years. Starting a new routine, following through for a little while, and always in the back of my mind wondering when I would give up and have to start over again.

Growing up I was really good at habits. I would wake up at 4:00am and head to the ice rink for skating practice before school, consistently get my homework and off ice training done after school, and then go to bed and start again.

I remember having many times as an adult wondering how I ever did that for 10 years as a kid and teenager.

James Clear literally wrote the book on habit building and changed everything for me. Atomic Habits is a book all about the process of making habits simple. He covers how to establish habits we desire for ourselves, and how to eliminate habits we want to get rid of.

After reading this book I have stuck to a morning routine for the last 2 months and I don’t believe I have been able to say that before.

My Morning Routine:

  • Wake up at 5:00am

  • Make my bed

  • Brush my teeth

  • Put my running clothes on

  • Go run 1 mile

  • Start my coffee

  • Do a 5-10 minute yoga flow

  • Meditation for 5 minutes

  • Practice EFT Tapping

  • Write a blog post and prep a social media post for that day

  • Get ready for work

The first thing I would say is read this book. You won’t regret it.

So what does it take to develop habits? There are little things that are likely going to be different for everyone so you will need to experiment with what works best for you, but I want to share what has helped me.

Start Small

My morning routines didn’t start like what you see above. They started with ONE of those things and to be honest it felt really hard when I started.

It required me to do a lot of work around why I had so much resistance to doing what was good for me. Why do we sometimes find it so difficult to do the things we know will help us?

There is actually a word for this called Akrasia, where we know something will help us feel better or create the life we want and we still decide not to do it. We act against our better judgement.

Why does it feel hard to do what’s good for us?

Akrasia, or acting against our better judgement, has a lot of theories around it. There are many speculations as to why this might be an experience humans have. As far as I am aware, we are the only creature that doesn’t simply do what we know we want to do for a better life.

In my experience and in watching people close to me, there is a level of self sabotage involved in this.

There is a level of thinking we don’t deserve the goodness we can imagine for our lives so we don’t take action.

There is a fear of stepping into our power and being seen.

A resistance to our potential success or failure.

Your Akrasia may be similar or different from mine.

To overcome these, I practiced reprogramming my mind. In my conscious mind I would practice affirmations that reflected a truth I wanted myself to believe in. For example, “I can do anything”. I would repeat this consciously, and overtime the repetition turns into a belief of the subconscious mind.

It really can be that simple. Take a limiting belief and replace it with one you would like instead.

Not sure what affirmations to start with? You can take a look here for examples.

Have Mentorship and Accountability

In addition to doing my re conditioning work, I also had a coach and accountability partners.

Having these people in my life and investing in myself gave me a new way of doing things. It was no longer just about me. If I didn’t follow through, people would know. We all had expectations of each other and as humans we want to fit in. No one wanted to be the only person who wasn’t doing what they said they would do.

Accountability is a verrryyyy powerful tool.

My coach provided resources, accountability, and spoke belief in me that I could have everything I desire for my life.

My accountability partners were right there along side me going through the same experiences and growing pains at different stages. We could help each other through challenging times, encourage each other, and provide different vantage points of looking at the process.

Make your dream habits EASY and bad habits hard

This is a big takeaway I got from reading Atomic Habits.

James Clear talks about how removing obstacles from our ideal habits, and creating obstacles for the habits we don’t want can change everything.

Thing about a lot of the habits you currently have. Ones that you don’t even think about. What makes them easy for you to do?

James also shares that the challenging part of the habit doesn’t need to be the habit at all. I’ll give you an example.

I go for a run every morning but the habit isn’t actually the run itself.

The habit is me having my running clothes ready the night before and putting them on right when I get out of bed. As a result, this leads to me going on a run.

Another example for a habit you would like to remove. If you know you want to take a break from eating lots of sugar, a good way to make that desert habit difficult, is to not have it in the house. This way, you actually have to go through the trouble of getting in your car and going to the store to buy something sweet, instead of it being readily available.

Relying on our will power alone is an easy way to become frustrated and disconnected from out goals. This leads me to my next point.

The difference between people who can stick to their habits and those that don’t

The reason why people are able to stick to a morning routine is not because they have more motivation and willpower, but because they have made their habits EASY. They have removed every obstacle and implemented every strategy to make following through the easiest and best option.

It has become so commonplace in our psychology to be hard on ourselves and beat ourselves up for not taking action, when in fact, the problem isn’t you at all. It is simply that the right strategy isn’t being utilized.

Stacking your habits

There are a couple of ways to think about this:

  1. Having an existing habit that you don’t even think about like making coffee and linking a desired habit to that

  2. Building a foundation with one desired habit that then serves as the first domino. The other habits you build on after that, naturally occur in the wake of the first

One of my favorite things James Clear talks about in Atomic Habits is stacking your habits. Linking one desired habit to another grows and then creates a ripple effect. The goal is to initiate this chain of habits to a point where you don’t even need to think about it anymore.

The less we negotiate with ourselves on things we want to do, or give ourselves the space to back our way out of it, the less likely we are to follow through. Creating a system where you don’t even need to think about the habit is key. Remember how Steve Jobs wore the same thing every day? He was saving mental band width for things more important to him. I’m certainly not suggesting we wear the same thing every day… but I do think its the right idea!

To Put it All Together

  1. Think about the habits you would like to create

  2. Remember that you deserve an amazing life and systems in your life that nurture your growth, health, and the dreams you have for yourself

  3. Have accountability

  4. Start Small

  5. Make your habits as easy as possible

  6. Start stacking new habits on top of existing ones

REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE A BADASS AND CAN HAVE THE LIFE YOU DREAM ABOUT.

  

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