Hello, Hello! How is everybody today? I’m excited to talk a little bit about habits and changing habits. I do a lot of work around creating joy and finding more fulfillment and when we want to experience more joy or create more fulfillment and more engagement in our lives, we do have to change some habits.
I went skiing with my son. Some of you may have seen the pictures. We went skiing on Saturday and it was so much fun. We were skiing and at one point we were sitting on the chairlift and he looked at me and he said, “Mom, why aren’t you wearing a helmet?” When we had gotten to the ski slopes and we had gotten our equipment and stuff and they said, “do you want a helmet?” And I said, of course I want a helmet for Michael, but it never even occurred to me to get a helmet for myself. So, when he asked me that question, I was just like, “why don’t I wear a helmet?” and I think the answer really is something like, because it wasn’t what we did in the 80s and 90s, right? Like, it wasn’t that common to wear a helmet, but I hadn’t even challenged that habit of not wearing a helmet. So, when he looked at me and he asked that question, it just brought that into my awareness and I realized that, of course, I could wear a helmet and really, it does make sense to wear a helmet, but I had to go back and question that old habit that I had.
When he asked me that question, it made me think about the work that we do on habit change, because oftentimes, when we decide we’re going to start something new, we spend a lot of time focusing on the new way – how I’m going to implement the new way. We plan, we make a commitment, we set goals around the new way and what that’s going to look like. But, what many of us forget to do, is to spend a little bit of time thinking about the current way. Why do I do the thing that I do now?
We’ve decided that we want to change something, but we look at that change looking forward. And I do think it’s important to look at the change moving forward – what is it going to look like? How are you going to implement it? What resources and tools do you need? How are you going to make is desirable? And we’re going to talk some more about creating change in another video because I do think that part’s really important, but many of us already focus on that part. And we forget to look at what we’re leaving behind when we decide to make a change.
The truth is, the way we do something now, it does serve us, it’s comfortable for our brain, it’s a familiar pattern, it a go-to of behavior and the brain loves to do things that take less energy, and doing things the way we’ve always done it, will always take less energy. So, our brain is always going to default to the current way. It likes the current way. The current way is comfortable. And it’s important to look at that current way and say, “How is this serving me now? Why do I do it this way?” Because what we need to acknowledge when we’re trying to change a habit is that it’s going to be hard to lose the comfort and lose the value that the current way provides us, even if we know the current way isn’t the best thing for us.
OK, so I’m going to give you a couple of examples:
I do a lot of work on finding more happiness, finding more joy. So, for a lot of people, what we work on is creating a space in the morning to spend a little bit of time setting intentions, and tuning in with our thinking, and really being mindful about how we want to go about our day. That’s the new way, getting up in the morning, setting the intention – but we have to give attention to the habit that we’re leaving behind. Which for some people means hitting the snooze button a variety of times. For other people, it means giving up 20 minutes of sleep. And so, we look at what we’re leaving behind in that space because some people will say, “Oh, I hit the snooze button and I don’t want to hit the snooze button anymore. I just want to get up and so when it goes off, I’m just going to jump up and I’m going to have everything ready.” But then, when that alarm goes off and that snooze button is there, we still have a strong tendency to hit it because there’s a lot of value in that. We get the relief of hitting the snooze button. Our brain sees that as a few more minutes of rest, so in the instant when we have to make that decision between the old way and the new way, our brain is going to favor the old way because it sees it as a relief. Now the key is, once we develop that awareness and we see why we’re favoring the old way, it’s much easier to shift it because we can say, “Oh yeah, I get that, I expected that to happen. I knew it was going to go off and I was going to want that relief of hitting the snooze button, and I’m still deciding to get up.” And so, it can be harder to change a habit when we don’t acknowledge what we’re ending. Again, we focus on what we’re going to start, but we also need to pay a little bit of attention to what we are stopping because what we are stopping is going to be pulling for our energy. It’s going to be asking for our attention. It’s going to be there, waving, like “hey, remember me? Let’s do it that way because that way was easy and that’s the way I already know.”
I’ll give you another example. One of the things I frequently work with people on is being a bit more tuned in and a bit more mindful of our thoughts and our focus. And one of the ways we work on that is with mindful nutrition. (Aside: if you haven’t done it yet – check out www.laurabuckleycoaching.com/mindfulnutrition to get your free guide to mindful nutrition.) And so, for many people, they say, “At lunch, I’m going to take away all of my distractions and I’m going to sit down and just focus on my meal. So, during lunch, I’m going to take away the distractions, I’m going to be present and I’m going to make that a mindful meal. That’s the plan. That’s the new way. But we also have to look at the old way of what do I currently do? I currently work during lunch. I use that time to get ahead of my email or to return phone calls, or whatever it is that you do. Maybe you do continuing education or you watch webinars or whatever you choose to do during that time. So, we have to look at that time that we would then be giving up to work so that we can focus on that mindful meal. We have to say, “Ok, brain, I know that the worries are going to come up that we’re going to get behind of that we won’t have enough time in the day to get all of our work done if we don’t. Or sometimes it’s the comfort of being distracted during our meals. Sometimes we find it awkward of uncomfortable to sit and not be doing anything when we eat. Just know that your work or your email is going to be calling your attention. That you might have those thoughts that you won’t be able to get things done if you put those things aside while you are eating. Or just that discomfort of not doing anything, not having a distraction during your meal so that you can be present and focused.
What I would say to you if you have a habit that you are trying to create – If you are trying to get up early to exercise or if you’re planning on changing your meals or if you’re trying to add in meditation or a morning routine – while you focus on what the new way is going to look like, I also want you to spend a little bit of time recognizing what the current way looks like and what you might be letting go of in order to create the new way. That acknowledgement, that awareness is going to be a good tool for you to help change the habit. Otherwise, the old way is going to be asking for your attention.
I hope that’s helpful! Leave a comment and let me know what stood out for you!
I’ll talk to you again soon. Bye!