Transforming Your Habits One Thought at a Time
Studies show that it takes 66 to 365 days to effectively develop or change a habit: this is a lot of time invested into habit transformation. However, people continue to start and stop this journey many times in their life in the attempt to change a behavior simply to fall right back into the old way, or comfortable way of doing something. So, what is it that break us? What is the thing that prevents so many from moving into a healthier lifestyle, prioritizing family over work, or choosing activity over Netflix? I believe it has to do with our inner narrative. So often, we dive right into the action portion of changing a habit before resetting how we want to think about the change, and in doing this we miss the foundational component of the choice to bring our thinking mind along with us. It is like the slingshot effect, when we move forward, full steam into an action without cognitive consent, our minds pull us back into old patterns, just like the rubber band on a sling shot.
We can easily lose ourselves in the person we are actively trying to become when we do not connect with and have a conversation with ourselves first. It is one thing to hit the gym with an intention bound to a New Year resolution, however, it is quite another to work-out with the commitment to living a long life for your children or a spouse. When we have some sort of a pledge to our future selves charged with an emotional connection we have a much better chance of pushing through the habit transformation plateau and truly establishing lasting change. So much of what we do each day is set to habit, as if we are on autopilot: how many times do you pull into your driveway and realize that you do not even remember the drive home, or brush your teeth without a thought? In order for us to focus on the really important things, our brains, like machines, move us through our routines almost unconsciously. Often times, the actions we take to change a habit are effective: we reach a point where there is no longer a physiological desire or craving for a third glass of wine, slice of cake, or where we have regained some energy and could easily go to the gym a fourth day in a row, BUT our brain’s autopilot kicks in and takes over instead. We do not go to the gym the fourth day because it is not who we are, and we drink the wine and eat the cake because that is what we would have done in the past. This activates a different type of action now, an action in the opposite direction of our goal, but we do it because, well, it is what we have always done in the past. This means it may be easier to change a habit than we think, we simply have to go the extra step and tap into our brain, check in, and reset the expectation to cater to future self rather than past self.
We reach a juncture in habit transformation where we have much more power than we think to move forward, yet there is a tug to go backward, and it is at this point that the simple act of awareness paired with intent can change everything. This is the moment where you can reset the stage by simply asking yourself, “What is it that I truly want?” You might be surprised to find that by noticing the junction point (a very often missed component of changing habit) and then checking in with yourself, you have the power to change. You are essentially freeing yourself of autopilot and resetting to manual. Engaging in these steps over time will ultimately recalibrate your thought process, allowing you to make the changes you want.
To be better we must do it differently, we cannot repeat the same content of the past. And while this work may seem arduous, it is nothing compared to being stuck in a place of disempowerment and entrapped in your own mind. You will find there is so much freedom in letting go of the complacency of everyday routine and taking back the wheel, heading toward the next destination on the journey of your choosing.
If you are interested in learning more, please connect with us @ The Bond Consulting Group - Leadership and Development Training Pittsburgh