3 Incredibly Simple Steps to Mastering Your Habits
Our every day lives consist of us performing the same actions over and over out of habit. Some habits are good habits and help us feel our best, help us take care of ourselves and help us live our best lives. Some habits on the other hand, don’t allow us to be productive, give us immediate and temporary reward for no long term gain and leave us feeling unmotivated and down on ourselves when we partake in them over and over.
We’re all familiar with the cycle of implementing a new habits or breaking an old one. We get the idea in our heads that we’re going for it, we dive head first, keep it up for a couple days, maybe a couple weeks and then before we know it we’re right back where we started and we feel as though we’ve let ourselves down and like we can’t do anything right.
Can you relate?
If so, it’s nothing to be ashamed of and the good news is, we can break that cycle with 3 super simple steps!
3 Incredibly Simple Steps to Mastering Your Habits
When I began writing this post, I had the intent to write about how to break your bad habits. As I wrote on, I realized that the process for breaking bad habits is almost identical to implementing new habits into your life. Really, your bad habit is just the absence of the good habit and wanting to break an old habit would be to implement a new, good habit. I realized that if you can master the following 3 steps, you can completely master your habits and transform your daily routine into one that you love, that makes you feel the best and allows you to make the most of your time.
“The habits you created to survive will no longer serve you when it’s time to thrive”
As humans, our instinct is to make sure we’ve safe and comfortable first. This is why implementing new habits and breaking old ones can be such a struggle. Instinctively, you want to keeps things as is, in the routine you’re in now because you know you’re safe and comfortable while the habits you want to implement may be scary or new to you. We are creatures of habits which is why we have trouble changing that habit.
We all have that list, whether physical or in our minds, of things we would love to do in a day. Your list might having things like being more mindful of what you actually need before going to the grocery store, putting aside time every day to honour your body and practice self love, or spending 10 minutes a day visualizing your dream life. All of these habits sound amazing and just the idea of them is enough to make you excited to have them as part of your life but as soon as you go to implement them or break an old habit, you subconsciously stop yourself to avoid any discomfort. You convince yourself that you’ll start tomorrow or that you you’re fine without a life where you are your absolute best self. You start to tell yourself that one day you’ll implement this new habit or break the old one. You’re waiting for the right time, the right moment where some almighty power flicks the switch in your brain that makes you get up in the morning to go to the gym before work.
Well don’t I have a newsflash for you!
There’s never going to be a magic moment where things are going to change. Instead, YOU have to make the conscious decision to change. Habits are habits for a reason. They’re actions you’ve performed over and over until they stuck and became those habits. You didn’t just come out of the womb brushing your teeth everyday. Not just because you didn’t have teeth but because this wasn’t a habit you got into yet. Your parents had to brush your teeth for you every day and teach you that it was something to do everyday. After doing it day in and day out, it became a habit.
Your muscles don’t just decide one day to get bigger and more toned, you have to work at it. You have to decide to wake up when your alarm goes off, get out of bed, get to the gym and workout and then when it comes time to do it again tomorrow, you’ll have to make the effort to do it all over again. Your bad habits have become habits because you’ve let them happen. You spend hours on end scrolling through Instagram instead of starting your dream business because you’ve let yourself do that. The instant gratification of scrolling through Instagram has become more rewarding to you than the idea of killing it in business one day.
Luckily, once you master these 3 steps, you can finally master your habits. You can implement the ones that will allow you to thrive and live your best life and you can break the old habits that no longer serve you!
Step 1: Become mindfully aware of the habit at hand
There are 3 steps to building or breaking habits and whether you’re looking to break an old habit or implement a new one, these 3 steps are a fool-proof way to master your habits and live the life of your dreams. The mindful awareness, the conscious intervention and the death of the habit.
The first step is to become mindfully aware, not only of the habit itself but of the fact that you want to break it. Habits become habits because they’re something that bring us reward in some fashion and make us feel happy and safe. Your brain doesn’t throw up the red flag and say “hey buddy, we probably shouldn’t be doing this here! It’s not good for us!” or maybe it does but then turns a blind eye when you try to actually act on this red flag. Instead your brain snuggles in to the habit, feels safe and cozy, and lets you do your thing. Instead of settling in to your habit every time you go to do it, you need to let your brain know that this isn’t a comfy place and that this isn’t where you want to be. Once you’ve got it in your mind that it’s not a comfortable place and that you don’t want to stay there, it becomes easier to break the habit.
This is always going to be your biggest hurdle. How do you make yourself think of something that you don’t think of automatically, right? Start off by writing the bad habits you want to break or the habits that you want to implement down on a piece of paper and put it somewhere where you’ll see it every day. Perhaps you start your morning off with a bit of goal setting for the day (or maybe this is the habit you want to start). Every morning, write down the habits you are going to implement and the ones you’re going to break so that they’re always fresh in your mind. This will create the link between the habit and the idea that you want to break it. The next time you go to participate in the habit, you will think of your list and from there you can then make the conscious decision to do it or not. The same works for new habits. When the time comes that you would want to implement the new habit, your brain will go to the list. You can then choose to or to not participate in the habit.
Step 2: Choose conscious intervention rather than surrendering to your habit.
The next stage is conscious intervention. This happens when you’ve become mindful that your habit isn’t somewhere you want to hang out and make the conscious decision to not do it. That’s right. Breaking a habit is as simple as just not doing it. It’s that simple. It’s not easy, but it’s simple.
Have you ever made plans with a friend that you didn’t necessarily want to do but felt like you had to? You come up with every excuse under the sun but when it comes to it you end up doing it. This is the same bargain you’re going to make with your habits. You’ll kick and scream and come up with any excuse possible as to why you can’t get up and go to the gym or why you need to order a large pizza and eat the entire thing yourself. Newsflash, you’re going to say the same thing next time it’s time to go to the gym or the next time you have a binge and then you’ll go another 3 months without going to the gym and you’ll binge again and keep putting off the change “until next time”. When you’re laying in bed, snuggled up and cozy going over the list of reasons you can’t get up and go to the gym, you need to just do it. Luckily when you become mindful of your bad habit and you’re mindful that this is a change you want to make, it’s easier to consciously intervene.
The best part about breaking a habit or starting a habit is that you just have to get past that initial resistance and the rest is smooth sailing. All of my best workouts happened on days where I didn’t really feel like it or when I was so close to talking myself out of it. Once you get past the horrible ideas you have about how awful it’ll feel to stray from what you’re used to and what’s comfortable for you, you’ll feel amazing!
Step 3: Hold a funeral for the habit you broke or throw a party for the new habit now a part of your daily routine!
The third step is finally kicking the habit to the curb and replacing it with a habit that’s actually productive to you. Luckily this is the easiest step and will just happen on it’s own once you master the first two steps. The best thing about starting or breaking habits is that you start off putting a lot of work into starting it or breaking it and you’re focusing on the “starting” and before you know it, you haven’t binged in weeks and you’ve been to the gym 3 times already this week!
HOWEVER, I do not recommend tracking your habit. A lot of people think it takes 21 days to start or break a habit and although it may be encouraging for some people to know it will only take 21 days to change their ways it was leave you feeling defeated and as thought the process is really hard if you’re just focusing on getting to that 21st day.
Just like a watched pot never boils, when you’re putting all your focus on how many days you’ve implemented your habit or how many days you’ve gone without the bad habit you’re trying to break you’re treating the habit as if it’s just a temporary thing that will be done in 21 days. Instead, approach it with the mindset that it is a change to your lifestyle and that this is something you will be doing every day of your life. For me, I find this allows me to implement the habit or break it a lot quicker. By not focusing on the date that it will finally become a habit, I see the habit as something I already do every day and that I will do every day for the rest of my life.
This is also similar to a diet in the sense that if you’re focusing on getting to the 21st day with the idea that once that 21st day hits the magic switch will be flicked and you will be a changed woman, when you reach that 21st day you will feel like working on this habit will be done and either you’ve got it or you don’t.
Don’t see it as a 21 day change but instead as a shift in your every day life.