We started a conversation about goals, now let’s get giddy about habits. I see habits as the little things we do over and over that shape our behaviors. Changing our habits will eventually help us accomplish our goals and change our behaviors for the long run. As simple as that sounds, habits are not very easy to change overnight. Here are a few tips that have helped me shape my habits throughout the years:
Make it easy
You need to set yourself up for success. Don’t make yourself climb a higher mountain than you need to. I recently realized how important this was when I tried to change my bedtime routine. I wasn’t trying to do anything drastic, just regularly wash my face and brush my teeth on a nightly basis. You’d think I would’ve figured this out in my late 20’s, but I frequently went to bed with a dirty face and unbrushed teeth (yes, I’m basically a child- I know).
Washcloths and I have this thing. I really just don’t like them. How many times are you even supposed to use a washcloth before you wash it? I just find it gross and hate trying to make them look new every week after I scrub my dirty face on them all week. I broke down and bought face wipes instead. They are definitely not the most environmentally friendly or economical option, but you know what? I wash my face without much grief these days, so I’ll take it. I also gave up on using real floss and am a proud supporter of floss picks. I don’t think I have ever flossed my teeth so regularly in my life. I was only using washcloths and real floss because I felt like I was taking the easy route if I didn’t. Moral of the story- there are plenty of challenges in life, don’t make changing habits another one.
Change your routine
I love change. I seem to flourish in change. Therefore, I figure if I want to change my habits, I should change my routine related to the habit. We get so used to doing the same thing in a certain sequence, but what happens when we throw ourselves a curveball? If you want to exercise after work, but the couch entices you then don’t even go home before you work out. Head straight to the gym or even put on your workout clothes at work, drive home and go on a walk, but don’t enter the house until you complete your walk.
Back to my bedtime routine…It’s not like I fell asleep on the couch or anything. Believe me, I love going to bed. That was the problem though, I wanted to get in bed so badly that I didn’t want to take time to wash my face or brush my teeth. To change my routine, I decided to start doing these things after we got done cleaning up from dinner. I still had energy at that point and it was a great way to unwind for the night. This also meant that if my teeth were brushed it was unlikely I was going to have the same urge for sweet snacks (another habit I am trying to change).
Use technology to your advantage
I’m a strong believer that we rely way too heavily on technology and it can be a hindrance in many situations. On the flip side, it can also be very helpful in changing habits and increasing productivity. Until you have changed a habit, set a reminder on your phone. I am trying to get better at stretching nightly, but stretching and I just don’t get along. I get bored…and usually it hurts (reason I need to stretch more). I usually remember to do it right before I go to bed and as we know from my teeth & face example, I’m just not good at getting stuff done before bed. I started setting reminders to go off on my phone around 6:00pm. As I have shared in previous posts, I love checking things off lists so a reminder on a phone works well for me. I should be honest and tell you that this doesn’t mean I stretch nightly. If I’m tired enough, I am really good at ignoring the reminder. Most of the time though, I follow through and my hips thank me for having a weakness for iPhone reminders.
There’s no blueprint or foolproof method for changing your habits. Everyone is different, so different strategies will be more effective for certain people than others. You just have to try and see what works for you. You won’t learn, if it don’t try right?
Do you already know what helps you change habits? I’d love to hear about it!