Personal Experiences: Change your habits and excel at being excellent.
By Judy Churchill
"We first make our habits, and then our habits make us." - John Dryden
For better or for worse our daily lives are made up of a series of habits. We are delighted when we manage to stick to the good ones, but the truth of the matter is that most of us are struggling to offload bad habits and just can’t seem to on-board the good ones for any length of time. So what is going wrong?
It’s all about the way we approach things. The good news is that if it’s so easy to on-board bad habits then it’s also that easy to on-board the good ones. Somewhere along the line though we have to know how to off-load the ones that no longer serve us.
Here are some tips to help you get started and to show you how to achieve them. To keep yourself on the straight and narrow feel free to come and see me for some coaching sessions, the fastest way to cure bad habits and sustain the good ones.
Understand the 3 Rs mechanism:
1.Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behaviour)
2.Routine (the behaviour itself - the action you take)
3.Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behaviour) the reward can be positive or negative. For example: I go to the gym and feel great afterwards with fewer sugar cravings (positive reward) or I decide to watch my favourite T.V. series, munch my way through a packet of chocolate biscuits and then gain weight and my self-esteem plummets (negative reward).
To make this work for you in a positive way you have to set up the scenario so that it’s easier to go to the gym than to watch the TV (coaching will show you how).
Reward yourself for good behaviour:
Remember the TV and the chocolate biscuits? Well you were already working the reward system – you sat down to watch TV and rewarded yourself with the biscuits but the ultimate effect was negative. So when you start steps towards positive habits, you MUST reward yourself well. You decide the reward and your coach will show you how to apply it.
Change your environment:
Our habits develop alongside the environment we are in – so if you are forever in front of a computer screen you are very likely to develop excessive media checking habits, Facebook, Instagram, emails. If you are trying to work from home you are likely to develop procrastination habits (any non essential chores are more attractive than getting started on the report or accounts). If you are unsuccessful at changing you eating habits, it’s because you are trying to engineer this change with the same food in the same fridge in the same kitchen in the same environment.
So as soon as you can, take a break and get away to a new location where you will ‘miraculously’ become successful at sustaining the good habits you were unable to sustain at home – weight loss, cleaner diet, exercise, creativity, time with your spouse or partner. If you really can’t get away then coaching will show you how to engineer changes in your current environment to be able to change your habits.
Focus on one goal at a time:
If you try to introduce too many new habits at once into your life, you will become overwhelmed and ditch them all in no time. It’s like trying to learn five tenses in your first week of learning French – nothing will stick. So focus on one major good habit you would like to introduce and then your coach will help you break that down into smaller units that you can achieve on a daily basis and once this habit becomes second nature there is space for the brain to focus on the next one.
Log your progress:
Notice how each new good habit will delete a bad one and log this. For example if your new good habit is to go bed earlier each evening, notice the effect that this has on your energy levels, mood, productivity and even eating habits and understand the knock on effect that one habit has on another.
Commit 100% and seek support:
Half measures do not equate to good habits being formed, they only programme you to believe you can get away with murder. It takes the same amount of energy to work on a good habit as to work on an excuse for not doing it! However as it’s very hard to commit and willpower is never something that should be relied upon (in fact it’s way overrated), consider taking on a coach to be your ‘will power’ and to keep you on track by holding you accountable. Once you become used to doing some things well you will start to do everything well. As Aristotle so rightly said:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” –
Judy specializes in transformational coaching on both an individual and team level.