I’ve written before and will write again: the key to making real, positive, lasting change, is breaking down your big goals into small pieces—small enough that when you focus on them one at a time for 21 days they will become a habit.
Habits are the key because they are behaviors that are automatic and routine for you—you don’t have to think about them. And because you don’t have to think about them, they don‘t require willpower.
Why is willpower so important?
We each have a limited amount of willpower and making many small habits over time will add up to the large changes we want—and those changes stick!
I’ve been told by my wife and friends I am a creature of habit—and while they may be referring to certain of my obsessive-like behaviors, which help me to stick to certain good habits, I am not alone. We are are creatures of habit.
I’ve read that triggers are one of the keys to habits—good ones and bad ones. It’s obvious that being a bars triggers drinking and people who want to drink less shouldn’t hang out at bars. People who want to cut down on snacks shouldn’t hang out with snacks (meaning, they shouldn’t fill their house with snacks.)
I’ve seen numerous triggers have a powerful impact on my own habits.
I keep my vitamins near my breakfast area and I found on days when I had breakfast outside my house, I was forgetting to take my vitamins. After I became aware of that problem, I changed the trigger—I got into the habit of breakfast, in or out of the house, as the trigger to take my vitamins.
Another habit I adopted was meditating for 10 minutes each morning in the room we exercise in at home. Again, I found when I was exercising outside my house (either because I was taking an outdoor bike ride, or a walk, or exercising in a hotel gym during a vacation or business trip), I was forgetting to meditate. So I worked to change the trigger—I got into the habit of exercise, in or out of the house, as the trigger my meditation practice.
A third example is shaving, which I do each morning before work. My habit is to shave after my shower, but when I switched to an electric razor, which works best with a dry face, a bunch of times I forgot to shave after I decided to wait until after I got dressed to give my face a bit more time to become totally dry. My new habit is whenever I don’t shave right after my shower, I bring my razor into my closet with me so I don’t forget to shave after I get dressed.
Think about your habits, good and bad, and think about some of your triggers and how you can use them to your advantage in making changes that stick. Please join the conversation with your experiences…