Habits Run You.
Have you ever wondered why we do the same things every day! We get up about the same time! Our habits determine the routine. Check social media, get up, toilet, shower, dress, breakfast, etc!
Your life is a series of routines, you might call them habits, but really they are just systems. We are systematic by nature. Everything we do is a system. Our lives run smoothly pretty much the same way a computer does because we are ‘programmed’ by our repetitive actions.
Think about it. How often do you go ahead and do something, even though you know (and usually that little voice is telling you – No!) you shouldn’t … but you do it anyway! If you are like me, it happens way more often than you would like to admit to.
Why is it?
Like I said, everything we do is part of a system. Think about brushing your teeth or your hair. Follow the actions you do. With your teeth. Where do you start? Do you brush the top, the bottom first? Look at your routine, then tomorrow try to do it differently, notice how weird that feels.
Our systems operate ‘unconsciously.’ Meaning we don’t need to think about what we are doing, we just do it. This saves us time and mental strain. So that’s good, right? Well, yes and no! Yes it simplifies our life, we can be thinking about other things while we complete the ‘mundane’ on auto pilot. But the downside is, we can get stuck in the same old habits, some of which are not supportive of changes we want to make in our lives.
Breaking a Habit
Habits run our lives, so imagine wanting to stop smoking, lose weight or even start going to the gym! What will be the first thing to sabotage your efforts…. your own ‘auto pilot’.
How do you break a habit? Simply, change your routine! Sounds easy. Yes, but it’s not!
Let’s look at weight loss! You decide to eat healthily, but how long does this last? It depends on whether you change anything else. The first day you are all excited and have a shake for breakfast, a salad for lunch, maybe a healthy fish meal for dinner. Day 2 you decide to have yoghurt for breakfast, another salad for lunch, vegetables, and meat for dinner. Then comes Day 3…. you sleep in… get up late, rush around, grab a quick bite, get out the door and suddenly realise that the ‘quick bite’ was full of sugar, carbs. Back to the beginning. What made you eat ‘junk food?’ It’s a habit!
Habits take time to change.
All the habits that let you run on auto-pilot every day have taken years to cement into your unconscious mind. They aren’t going to change overnight. You have to ‘hack’ into the system and re-route ‘your getting out of bed routine’. What do I mean?
Hack Your Habit
If you want to exercise first thing in the morning:
Find a friend to keep you accountable or book a personal trainer who will train you at your home.
Schedule 30 minutes of exercise every day.
Stick to your plan every day for 60 days in a row. (at the very least – 66 days is better still)
Plan your morning, before you go to bed each night
Set the alarm to wake 30 minutes earlier,
put your clothes out ready to go.
Get your pre-workout snack ready
Have your breakfast ready in the fridge.
When the alarm rings – Do Not hit snooze! Get up, get dressed into your training gear.
Get out and train. Set your Mind to your Goal. Put your energy and heart into exercising and try to think of the outcome you want from the effort. Focus on the result, not on the ‘pain’ you may feel in the beginning. Make sure you have a regular routine – same time, same exercises, same weights, same cardio – for the first 4 weeks. The more simple the repetition, the faster the neural pathways are built. It doesn’t take long – only 66 days – to build a new habit. You just need to want the result and stick to the plan – consciously, until it becomes ‘what you do and who you are!’
It takes 66 days to rebuild neural pathways to cement a new behaviour or habit. That is 66 consecutive days. But sometimes life gets in our way. This is where you don’t give up, you adapt, if you want to change your results.
If for any reason you cannot exercise – work commitments/health/weather – ACT AS IF!
What do I mean……
If, ‘life or work’ upsets your routine, adjust to the situation. Perhaps you have an early work breakfast meeting – no problem, get up earlier. Maybe, you feel sick or had a bad night or for some reason, you simply cannot train. It’s time to bring your imagination into your play.
You know what your routine is: You can close your eyes and imagine each and every exercise. It has been proven that exercise imagined can bring the same results as the ‘blood, sweat and tears of a physical session. So when you really can’t physically exercise, adapt and imagine your whole routine, with grunts, the strain, the pain, and completing it. Your Unconscious Mind can run through a 30-minute PT session in about 30 seconds. Repeat the session, in your mind, 10 times, from start to finish. Really get into it. Feel the feelings, the sweat, the pain. Make it really real for you. Let your body connect the neural pathways and deliver the new results you desire.
Don’t use this as a ‘lazy’ option to get fit, while it no doubt will work, nothing beats the emotional charge and feeling of well-being that comes from participating and achieving more than you thought possible from actually participating.
What Habits are running your Life?
This is a simple example of how our habits take over our decision-making processes without us even being aware of it. 75% of what we do each day is unconscious responses. Scary! Every decision that you make is based on three things: your habits, your values or priorities, your history. All three are intertwined. We all have habits, some are good, some bad. However, often it is only the bad habits we focus on and want to change. Sometimes it would be wise to ‘enhance’ the good habits so we do even more of that.
If you want to make a change in your life, the first step is to discover what other activities have you linked to whatever you want to change. That is your starting point. Every linked action is a ‘trigger’ that can and will sabotage you.
If you want to know more about habits Book a complimentary strategy session to discuss how our therapists can help you.