Around this time of year we all start groaning about the weight we gain around the holidays (or maybe it’s just me). We talk about all the things we said we were going to do before the end of the year. We get frustrated that we didn’t check them all off our list.
I admit it, I try to be on my best behavior, but when it gets cold and I’ve been on the grind all year, I start to slack off. It’s humannature. When you are in goal-getting mode pushing all year long, you can gettired and fall off the “good-habit” wagon.
We can only sustain the “pedal-to-the-metal” for a short timeframe. It gets tiring. Eventually, we all need to rest and relax. When we do, it’s easy for those pesky bad habits to creep in.
Let’s talk about Habits-the good, the bad and the ugly
Why is it so easy to fall into the bad habits and so hard to change them over for good ones?
The short and simple answer is that our brains are lazy and we are naturally drawn to things that don’t stress us out. Our brains seek routines and rhythms that take less energy. Unfortunately, we can easily sneak in the bad habits into our routines because they fit into the “easy way out”.
Objects at rest tend to stay at rest. So get up off the couch and go to the gym? NAH. Meal plan on Sundays and prep healthy meals for the entire week? Oh allthat cooking and packing. NOPE. Chips and salsa it is for dinner.
Sit down and lay out all the key steps you’ll need to take to start that new business? STOP MOVING MY COMFORT ZONE.
When things are uncomfortable, we chase easy and run away from hard.
The groundbreaking, life changing habits that can set you up for success can be challenging, especially if you already have other deep-rooted habits in their place.
Water the Right Habits
Think of your goals and habits as a flowerbed. The prettybeautiful flowers are the good goals and habits that you’ve invested your timeand energy to cultivate. Given the right attention and nourishment (faithful practice) they will continue to flourish.
From time to time, bad goals creep in like weeds. If left unattended, they will choke the life and energy out of your beautiful flowers (goals).
The habits you water and give energy to are the ones that will grow. The more you reinforce or support the habit, the deeper the roots and the harder it is to change.
In order to change, stop trying to dig out the bad habitsand instead just plant the seeds for new habits. Give the new habits attentionby reinforcing them with affirmations and positive associations with things that are already working for you.
Charles Duhigg teaches in his book The Power of a Habit, teaches about the habit loop-madeup of the Cue (something that kicks off the habit), the Routine (what you doonce the cue happens) and the Reward (the pay-off you get for completing theroutine). If you make a change in the habit loop, you’ll change the habit—or better yet, start a new one.
Let’s say you want to start going back to the gym. Think about what your typical routine is like. What gets in the way of you going tothe gym? Is it not having your gym clothes ready when you drive by the gym? Is it, being tired at the end of/start of the day?
Change something. Try putting your gym clothes in the car orkeep a set at work so you remove that excuse. Try switching the time of day yougo to the gym. Put the gym class on your schedule. Set an alarm. Get a gym buddy who will meet you at class. If you’ve already done those things, maybe change the reward. Set a target of getting to the gym 3 times a week and pay itoff with a night out with friends at the end of the month if you hit 3 out of 4 weeks.
The 7 Habits
I still find great value inthe book written by Stephen Covey The 7Habits of Highly Effective People. The sevenhabits that he lays out really gives you a roadmap for how you can build thosehealthier habits. If you haven’t given them a look in a while, here’s are fresher.
Habit 1: BE PROACTIVE
Show initiative by taking responsibility for your behavior. Realize that you have choices about what you do and when you do them. You can choose to set goals and be accountable for the outcomes, or keep on complaining.
Habit 2: BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND
Another way of thinking of this is start as you mean to go. Be sure you have a clear vision of what you want your intended outcome to be and commit to it!
Habit 3: PUT FIRST THINGS FIRST
Prioritize the important things and schedule your time to make sure they getdone. If you and your goals aren’t on your calendar, are they really thatimportant to you? Don’t just respond to the urgent things, make time for theimportant things first.
Habit 4: THINK WIN-WIN
Now that you have a little self-discipline and are working on you, how do you work with others? This habit is about the mindset you have when you are collaborating. Do you play nicely in the sandbox so everyone walks away feelinglike a winner, or do you take no prisoners?
Habit 5: SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND THEN TO BE UNDERSTOOD
To me this is the Communication habit. Are you an effective listener, or do you just wait for a chance to respond? Do you consider how the other person feels and reflectempathy in your conversation? Do you take the time to understand the positionof the other person, or are you forcing your views on others?
Habit 6: SYNERGIZE
This habit is about pooling resources and leveraging the skillsets that everyone brings to the table to create a better outcome. It involves cooperation, compromise and an appreciation for diversity of thought and styles.
Habit 7: SHARPEN THE SAW
The final of the seven habits is like reaching the Self-Actualization level of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. In practicing this habit, we are focused oncontinuous improvement (kaizen) of our bodies, minds, hearts and spirits. We seek renewal, things that re-energize us andsustains our ability to continue to grow.
Is it Time to Prune Your Habit Garden?
As we come close to the end of the year, please take time to recharge and reflect. Consider all your great accomplishments from this past year. Celebrate the wins and consider the rocks.
Think about what habits you want to plant in your Habit Garden and which ones you want to prune or let die
Need Some Help?I’ll be kicking off the year with my Virtual Vision Board event in mid-January andwill be launching a new webinar series and Group coaching program (stay tunedfor registration details). You don’t have to wait until then to connect. Click here to book your goal strategy session and start 2019 off right!