A great way to bring permanent change into your life is to form positive habits. This post tells you how to discover the way to creating change by forming good habits and sticking to them.
How To Make Good Habits Stick
How are your New Year resolutions going?
Just between you and me, I slipped off the wagon last Friday and had a glass of wine I never meant to have.
But you know what?
I’m not beating myself up about it … well I was, but now I am not, because at the risk of sounding totally trite, real change is not just about January and the best way I have ever found to make good habits stick is to focus on the long term.
I Need to Change
I’ve been thinking about change a whole heap the last few months.
Last year I felt ground down … anxiety and exhaustion got in the way of me being the person I think I am and definitely the person I want to be.
I was becoming a grumpy, narky, life-is-such-a-burden, carrying-the-weight-of-the-world on my shoulders mum and I don’t want to be her.
Wanting to change, took me back to a time in my life when I did change things up, made some great habits stick and dug myself out of the rut.
I was the classic work-a-holic career girl who was letting motherhood pass her by, even though the thing I wanted most in life was to be a mum. Crazy!
In a very dark place, I found the will to change and helped by two amazing friends discovered techniques that helped me change everything.
A new job, great healthy habits AND best, best, best of all I became a mum!
Now 5 years on, having lost my way in the changing pressures of motherhood, I am going back to those techniques I know can help me be the real me.
If you feel you’re in a place that isn’t you, want to change and make good habits stick here’s how it works … do give it a try ..
1. Picture yourself
Find a quiet space and picture the real you, the person you want to be.
Let the images move on and see yourself in old age having lived life as the real you.
What are the three snapshots that best capture the essence of that person?
Really hold the pictures in your mind’s eye and feel the strength they exude.
Those snapshots will become your guide in life. They’re not goals, rather, something much more powerful … that is the reference point and filter for everything you do.
One of mine for example is of a healthy, energetic, happy me striding up mountains with my family in the sunshine.
2. Daily devotion
Take a little quiet time everyday … it need only be a few minutes … and revisit those snapshots.
It could be in prayer or yoga or locked away in the bathroom to keep the rest of the family at bay … whatever works for you 🙂
Every day try to focus a little more on the images and let them become stronger and richer.
3. Pick little things that make a difference
Write down a few small daily habits that will bring you closer to that true you.
But watch out … these ARE NOT huge fancy, can’t-stick-to changes.
They are the little … and often enjoyable! … things that make a big difference.
I wrote down:
- Drink loads of water
- Eat green veg
- Relax properly with 5 minute yoga before bedtime
- Run the school run OR skip for 10 minutes
- Go to bed on time
- Give up wine during the week
The great thing about these little daily changes is you feel the benefits immediately. That’s super motivating and builds strength for bigger change.
4. Watch out for triggers
Now the thing about habits … good or bad … is we do them on autopilot.
Something happens … the trigger … and we instinctively slip into the habit.
So to make good habits stick we need to create postitive triggers or reminders and keep our eyes peeled for those negative triggers that can drag us down without thinking.
These can be so simple. For me, it’s have a jug of water on my desk or keep my skipping rope on the work top so I see it everytime I come in the kitchen and am constantly reminded to quickly skip for a few minutes.
5. Buddy up
The negative triggers can be harder. Avoiding them isn’t always possible.
And then those negative little voices in our heads … you know the ones that say “I am too busy”, “I am too exhausted”, “I’ll do it later” … pipe up and before I know it I am swigging coffee or a glass of wine rather than the refreshing water I need and interfaffing rather than going to bed on time.
We all need ready-to-hand rebuttals to help us shout down those voices.
Writing these down helps but I find it most powerful to buddy up with a friend and talk about the reasons these good habits are so important to the real me.
Those conversations hold me accountable and strengthen my rebuttals.
6. Remember to reboot
But even then all of us will slip sometimes. That’ll be my large glass of red!
It takes a while for good habits to get wired into our brains.
And even when they are, unexpected pressures will knock us off course.
I do find those few minutes of daily devotion focused on the big picture of me help enormously but if you do slip, absolutely don’t beat yourself up and remember it’s OK to reboot and deep focus again on those snapshots of you and the little changes that make a big difference.
In fact it’s not just OK, it’s really good to, because the reboot helps to stop you drifting off into the old you.
7. Let it be!
Now, that’s all OK you may say, but what about tangible goals and big change now rather than piddly little changes and day dreaming about the future!
There is certainly a role for goals.
But actually most of us find it hard to convert them into small but powerful good habits we can stick to.
When we make good habits stick we give ourselves the energy and motivation to move onto bigger change.
And there’s another problem with goals. You know what its?
Life … and motherhood in particular! … is full of them.
Super specific plans quickly become irrelevant to the ever changing needs of our families and we are left adrift buffeted in all directions and none by whatever is thrown at us.
Focusing on that picture of the real you gives you the strength to respond to those curve balls in a positive way that is true to who you really are and who you want to be.