Kicking Old Habits (and kicking them HARD)
We have all got an annoying habit (or five) that we wouldn't mind getting rid of. My finger nails are practically non-existent due to biting them, I click my back and neck far too much for any normal human... and yeah, I most certainly have had some pretty horrific habits involving my health and wellbeing. In saying that however, habits can also be aspirational. I'm sure there are multiple habits that you wouldn't mind picking up. It might be waking up a little earlier in the morning, creating a consistent pattern of eating well and feeling good, or simply taking off your makeup every night (I am the worst...).
Sometimes it can be hard to determine whether our habits are bad or good for us, but of late, my basic technique for deciding this is becoming more and more simple. Even the smallest of habits are CRAZY influential in our lives, and so its important to ask yourself how you feel while doing the task. Ask yourself how you feel straight after the task? Do you feel good? Do you feel guilty (cough cough... fingernails). Did doing that action really improve your wellbeing/health/mood? Whether you are aiming to shed old (bad) habits, or create and shape new ones, this post will hopefully help you to do just that.
Create realistic habits
The thought of creating new habits has no doubt got most of the world thinking... eat healthy, do more exercise, spend more time with family, spend less wasting money. The list goes on. Don't get me wrong, the principle of these habits can be very beneficial. But before you rush into only eating salads for a week, or dedicating every spare moment of your me time with others... let me remind you to check yourself. As yourself if your new habit is actually going to be realistic? Thanks Annie... but what does that actually mean? Well, habits (just like resolutions), are all about how you frame them. If you choose to make your habit focused on eating more healthy, by eating exclusively healthy foods and nothing but healthy foods, then maybe we are asking a little too much of ourselves. We all know... that ain't gonna happen. Make sure you are choosing habits that are achievable and realistic.
Dreams to reality
Like when creating any aspiration or goal, one of the coolest parts about it is visualising how little changes are going to effect your life. Whether its gaining a new habit, or kicking an old one, make sure that you are able to visualise the positive affect it will have on your daily life. Recently, I realised that my habit of over-exercise was slipping back into my daily schedule. I had minimal energy, lack of motivation for anything, little spark in my personality, and was consistently drained. Bad habit... yes I KNOW so. However, in visualising myself with more energy, and realising how much brighter and bubblier I would be as a person without this habit, I became even more motivated for change.
I sometimes think that habit changing gets a 'tedious' and 'time consuming' label, and sure, swapping or changing your habits can sometimes leave you feeling a little unmotivated. But never fear... this is exactly the crucial moments I am talking about. Take a moment to look at yourself, and visualise what life would be like with/without your habit. This not only helps to prevent the 'ah-fuck-it' moments when we want to give in or give up, but also helps us to become more in touch with the times that we know we may struggle in the future.
Plan your shit
Excuse the informal title, but you are currently talking to the ultimate lover of plans. Sometimes overly pedantic (perhaps a habit I could look into changing...), I am indeed the ultimate planner and organiser. My boyfriend often reminds me to chill while I rave about my 10 different to-do lists, but when creating or ridding new habits, nothing is more helpful than creating a plan. It has recently been proven that it can take anywhere between 21 days to an entire month to pick up or rid habits. Hence, planning out weekly or daily goals towards achieving these habits will almost automatically enable small, but crucial daily progress.
Talk about it!
This can sometimes be a difficult one, but talking about your habits is also a very obvious solution to help prevent falling off the bandwagon. Having a chat about the habit you are wanting to change may seem daunting at first, you may feel that telling someone about your goal makes you also accountable to them, as well as yourself. But I promise you that there is no harm there! All you need to do is start by selecting someone close to you on a daily basis... friends or family members, people who you live or work with. Then get chatting, because there’s a damn good chance they might be able to help you out with keeping you on track, or may have previous advice! You might even find a buddy who wants to change similar things to you, and come on... who doesn't love a habit changing buddy?
Keep yourself in check
Your plan for changing your habits is super important, but as is the process of tracking your progress. Theres something incredibly satisfying for human beings found in achieving our goals, and while you tick off each day with a 'YES', you will also become more and more determined to reach the end goal. Personally for me, I also like to keep a list of any bad moments or thoughts, any moments where I realised things, or even moments where I slipped up. These day to day records not only help you to realise and prevent future down falls, but also can help you to realise the moments where you might struggle most, and the moments where you are at your best.
I'm thinking some new fresh kicks, or maybe a nice massage, mmm no perhaps a fancy dinner out. No matter what you love, there’s gotta be something you’ve been wanting lately. Whether you are making new habits or kicking old ones, make sure to have a reward for when you end your habit-changing process! It doesn't have to be a big spend up or super flashy... Please don't go out and rent a boat with champagne to celebrate the end of your habitual 'big spending' phase. Instead, focus on having something to look forward to that means a lot to you, and when you occasionally loose a little motivation, remind yourself of your reward and the good things to come!
Keep up the good work
Remember that like anything in life, it's what you do 90% of the time that matters more than the other 10%. Stick to your habit making/breaking plans, and in no time you will feel great with new routine and structure in your life. Once you have the process down, remember that you might have a few slip ups here and there. We are human after all. And hey, if you are successful the first time, why not reconsider your current habits once again and make more influential changes in your life!!