Dopey Sloth in Pillow Fort (Forming Habits)
2nd January 2017
“Motivation is what gets you started, habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn
It’s that time of year again, we’re all thinking about our new goals and our new year resolutions and aiming to better ourselves in 2017, whether this be fitness, health, wealth or happiness (maybe all of the above for some of us!) How are we going to achieve these things? We could break it down into different long and short term goals. Let’s take a deeper look within our new goals, what we are really trying to change are our habits. We are trying to correct our bad habits, and create and nourish new habits – these good habits will in turn assist us in achieving our goals.
Let’s talk about habits. To change habits, you need to understand how they work. Research has shown that habits are formed by neurological cravings in your brain that associate a specific trigger with a specific reward. Therefore, after these habits are created, you expect to feel a certain way when completing a certain activity. There are 3 parts to every habit; a trigger, a routine and a reward. Some habits may have more than one trigger or reward.
The trigger tells your brain to act.
The routine is what you do.
The reward is the end result that satisfies your original craving.
Habit change occurs by keeping the same trigger and reward, but by changing the routine. When you have identified a habit that you want to change, the first step is understanding the trigger that is prompting you to take action, and the reward that you are craving. For example, you might want to change the habit of biting your nails. First you need to figure out what your trigger is – which could be boredom. Then you need to understand the reward you crave from taking this action – which could be physical relief from boredom. To change this habit, we need to associate the trigger and reward with a different routine, so instead when I notice the trigger prompting me to bite my nails, I recognise this as boredom and a craving for physical relief from boredom, I might instead stand up and stretch for a minute which would also provide physical relief from boredom and in turn would satisfy the associated reward.
It can often be difficult to figure out the triggers and associated rewards as for many of us – our habits have been around for so long, we are completely unaware what triggers them, as well as the potential of having more than 1 trigger for a habit. Once you get started, really take notice of any potential triggers or rewards and write them down. This will help you really hone in on your habits and will assist you in adjusting them.
Research has shown that it takes just over 2 months to form new habits, if you commit to a new habit for 66 days, you should start to adopt the new process. Planning is the first step to developing new habits, make sure that you write down what you want to achieve and why – followed by planning your month in advance.
When thinking about what habits you might like to change, here are some key areas to think about:
- Me Time,
- Health & Wellbeing
I am going to be focusing on productivity for my first habit change for 2017.
I am lucky enough to hardly ever wake up to that dreaded sound of a screeching alarm clock. Therefore, in the mornings, I somewhat resemble some kind of dopey sloth. I wake up, I roll around a bit, I somehow create an epic pillow fort in my dazed state, and I’ll lurk Facebook for a while. Then I’ll slowly drag myself out of bed for a shower, then unsure of what I am supposed to be doing for the day, straight after my shower, I’ll crawl straight back into bed and once again waste a whole bunch of time doing absolutely nothing useful. To some, this might sound like the makings of a fantastic relaxing day – and I’m sure it would be, provided it’s not every single day. To me, this is an extremely unproductive habit, which often results in me being disorganised and having to rush things later in the day.
The routine I am going to change is: To get out of bed as soon as I wake up – and make my bed straight away (if it’s made, I’m less likely to try crawl back into it, right?!). To help me, I have a weekly planner, outlining everything I need to do for the day and listing specific times.
Give yourself a reward or celebration for when you have focused on this new habit for 66 days, make sure you have something in mind from the start to help keep you on track. My celebration is going to be purchasing new bed sheets, so that my bed looks really pretty when I get up and make it straight away every morning.
Some things to think about when creating your action plan.
- The routine you are going to change,
- The trigger for your habit
- What you will do when the trigger appears
- What your reward will be
- Why you want to change/start this habit
- Challenges you might come up against
- How you will deal with these challenges
- Who you will talk to when you need support
- After 66 days, how you will celebrate
Take some me time, and do some weekly reflections to monitor your progress
- How you feel
- What you did well
- What you can improve on
- Next week I will
I will be touching base weekly, with my weekly reflections, to hold myself accountable to my habit change, and you are all welcome to follow along with my journey to see how I go!