I’ve mentioned in my previous blog post (Are you really happy or really comfortable?) about how us humans are habitual creatures! We all have certain things we do without even thinking about it. So I ask you to list 3 habits of yours, good or not-so-good… (don’t mind me I’ll just sip my coffee whilst you have a think).
How did these habits form; did you copy your parents? Did you want to be like your childhood friends? Have certain situations lead you to act a certain way? (for me I always order dessert after a meal out – hungry or not!)
Next, try to think back to when you developed these habits – or your earliest memories of when these habits were apparent in your life. Quite a while eh? So we have developed these actions, tasks, routines by repeating them over and over… and over. We have created our unique, individual behavioural patterns over many months and years and will continue to do so – unfortunately we may not be proud of all of them. Want the good news? We have the power to take on new habits that we are proud of as well as stop old habits we aren’t proud of.
“You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is a saying that I believe to be an excuse for the stubborn, pessimistic or for those who are scared of trying new things (it’s okay to be scared – but we have to step into the unknown sometimes) *Check out that blog link up the top – wink wink-nudge nudge*
You CAN teach new behaviours, you CAN adopt and create new habits and you CAN continue to learn if you want to. It will take time, it will take some hard work and it will take perseverance. We’ve already established we need to repeat new behaviours again & again before they become ingrained into our daily lives – but we’ve done it before and we sure can do it again – if we really want too.
Just think, if we change smaller details in our daily lives – any big bold goals we have set for ourselves will gradually become more realistic and achievable. You might not even realise what small behaviours are preventing you from reaching your goals. Small things like putting our phones away an hour before bed, will allow us to fall asleep faster, be less restless and get a better night sleep… a better nights sleep would mean feeling more alert and productive the following day – perhaps allow us able to wake up earlier, have time to eat breakfast or walk to the train station instead of making a mad dash for the bus. It will give you time to relax properly, reflect on your day and prepare for what you’ve planned for tomorrow. It may even free you up for quality time with family or flat mates!
Think about ‘treats’. We have learned that we are allowed treats when we have been good. Does “Go’rn treat yourself!” sound familiar? Next time, or every now and then when you are in that situation, just think to yourself ‘what have I done, to really deserve this brownie/drink/pair of shoes/sweets…?’ I am by no means saying never treat yourself – but be aware of when you really owe yourself a well done & when you might just be cheating yourself.
Hang on! “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” and “treating ourselves when we’ve been good” as much as I love dogs, we are not dogs and we shouldn’t act like them!
It will be the small habitual changes, over time, trying again and again even when we momentarily fall into our old ways, will eventually stick. We will forget sometimes – we’re human, but as long as we keep persevering then in 6 weeks, 6 months or even 6 years we will have changed or adopted a new habit that we desired.
Ever wondered how some people have so much “will power” and exercise 3/4 times a week, or never eat treats when they are offered – it’s because they have learned to be that way, they have put in hardwork and failed many times before their brains made way for a new behaviour. The positive outcomes from your conscious decisions, will become your rewards and you can motivate yourself much more easily, until it becomes second nature.
What small part of your day or your week, could you adapt or change to help improve yourself and your goals?:
- Is it putting your phone down an hour before bed?
- Reading a book on the commute to work?
- Watching more documentaries and educating yourself?
- Not buying a coffee every morning before work & instead taking your own in a flask?
- Taking just 10 minutes to do gentle breathing and relaxing when you wake up?
- Making Mondays and Thursdays your allocated days to exercise?
- Ringing your Mum, Dad, Nan, Niece, old school friend every sunday night?
- Preparing lunch for the next day?
- Taking the stairs not the escalators?
There are alot of small changes that we may not realise, could actually make big positive differences for us. We honestly have the power in our own hands. Sometimes concentrating on daily goals is more powerful than striving for that forever moving end goal. Our lifespan’s on the whole are very lengthy, so use that abundance of time to your advantage.
Aristotle once said – “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”
Repeat, repeat, repeat…