Who you are in the habit of being
Most of us realize that when we repeat something enough times, we establish new neural pathways in the brain that our habit flows through effortlessly and automatically. Here are some elements involved in habit creation:
- The Trigger – trigger sends signals to our brain that it’s time to perform a habit
- The Sequence – habits work in a sequence of sorts that starts with a trigger and then leads to a responses when then leads to a reward
- The Repetition – repetition requires mental and physical effort at first but over time, it becomes second nature
- The Ease – the easier things are, the more likely you’re to do them
- The Patience – most habits take more time than you think, so stick with it and you’ll love the payoff
- The Identity – habits are more than just the actions we take, habits are our beliefs, thoughts and words
Trying to change your life without self-awareness is like reading a map to get to somewhere you’ve never been before.
It’s not impossible but it’s difficult and it won’t get you far. Taking time to learn yourself and taking control of your habits is one of the most important jobs you can do. It gets you out of the victim mode and puts you in the driver’s seat.
Healthy boundaries: the unsung heroes of successful habits
Habitually setting healthy boundaries lays the groundwork for all other habits. If you’re developing the habit of becoming a better manager, you might consider creating solid boundaries by articulating your expectations, explaining guidelines and empowering your team to flourishing without having to hover over them.
If you’re getting into avoiding meat, you might consider dating at vegetarian restaurants, take time to learn new vegetarian recipes and inform unamused dinner party hosts that you don’t eat animals. Your boundaries define the space you require in order to be who you’re being.
Pay attention to three common types of boundary enemies:
- Too yessy – we say yes to everything in order to avoid confrontations, disappointing others or appearing selfish.
- Too much no – we say no for fear of being seen, disappointed, disappointing or needy.
- Too controlly – we try to control other people, get them to take on our problems, become overly involved in their problems.
“You are responsible to other people. You are not responsible for other people. Big difference.”
When setting boundaries, we want to be nice, to bring joy to others, to be good, helpful, agreeable, compassionate, popular people. We think that compromising our boundaries is the best way to meet those needs. We fear that by setting a boundary, we’re cutting off ourselves from others. Meanwhile, clearly defining who you are and what you’re available for isn’t selfish but rather it’s self-ish. The better you get at setting good, clear boundaries of your own and respecting those of others, the easier your life will become.
21 Days to Badass Habits
Day #1 Your mantra of mightiness
You already use mantras all the time whether you realize it or not. I can’t lose this pregnancy weight. I have excellent parking karma, I hate my ears. Life is good, I always date crazy people.”
Your first job as you form a new habit is to replace lame mantras with conscious, fruitful ones. Take time and effort to believe your mantra. Write it down and say it out loud every day. The power is all in repetition and connecting with the feeling of excitement.
Day #2 Set yourself up
Get a notebook. Make a list of at least fifteen things you’ll do to set yourself up for success. This goes for quitters, too. Make a list of things that you’ll do to make participating in your ex-habits as revolting and as painful as possible. Tiny steps you take consistently add up to big changes.
Day #3 Track your progress
Tracking yourself helps you stay the course because you’ll become more invested in the progress knowing how far you’ve come or how close you’re to the destination. You’ll also build confidence because you’ve proven yourself that you’re making something good happen to yourself.
Day #4 Mooch off another habit
Take a good look at your existing habits to see if you can barnacle an even better habit or several more. Here are some examples.
- While sitting on the toilet, floss your teeth.
- If you’re a coffee drinker, piggyback the drinking of water onto your existing coffee habit.
- When you get behind the wheel, take a deep breath and stay present before stepping on the accelerator.
Day #5 Refuse to participate in negotiations
Don’t be swayed by the negotiation your mind is trying to trick you into. Lock into the perception of yourself as the fabulous creature that you are. Realize this negotiation has nothing to do with you. Move on immediately to the next positive thoughts.
Day #6 Anticipate your excuses and distractions
Sit in the feeling of eager expectation around your new habit and write down any objections that may come along. Along with your mantra, come up with a one-liner that will put your familiar excuses into its place.
Day #7 Reward yourself
Find ways to entice yourself while you’re in the process of forming a new habit. Once you’ve decided how you’ll be rewarding yourself, write down the details and commit to it… every single time you perform or stay away from an action.
Day #8 Surround yourself with greatness, human and otherwise
Whether you realize it or not, you’re enormously influenced by who and what surrounds you. Your environment can either make or break you faster than almost anything. Making smart choices about your environment is one of the best decisions you’ll make in your life.
Day #9 Create a ritual
Rituals remind us that we’re taking ourselves and our commitments seriously. It doesn’t matter what your goal is, you must consciously honor the fact that you’re showing up for yourself and this is a sacred act. The more you do so, the more likely you’re to stick with the habits that are good for you.
Day #10 Focus like a fiend
Be a helicopter parent to your brain and strictly monitor what you tune into. Tie a string around your wrist, draw an eye on the back of your hand, put notes all over your house to remind yourself that today is the day.
Day #11 Take tiny bites
As you form a new habit, you’ll see good days as well as bad days. In either case, you need to stay focused on the good and forget the bad. Shrink your habit down to a tiny, bite-sized chunk of time. If your goal is to write a book, just write one page of your book today. And then another tomorrow. And then another. Keep chewing your tasks until there’s nothing left on the plate.
Day #12 Tame your triggers
You can’t tame what sets you off, until you clearly identify them. So the first step is to write it down. And then whip it off the next time it shows up. You have a choice as to how you receive whether input comes your way. Make a conscious effort to use your triggers as positive reinforcers, not as habit killers.
Day #13 Remember to remember
You’re here to blossom into the most shiny version of yourself. By doing this, you’re not only living a merrier life, you’re shining light on everyone in your orbit. By being your best self, you light a fuse within others. Inspire them and show what’s possible for them too.
Day #14 Speak it into being
Your words anchor your reality, whether you like it or not. If you talk about being fat, that’s what people will see you for. If you talk about being lazy, that’s what you eventually settle yourself into. Watch your words. And everyone else’s.
Day #15 Cultivate your confidence
Any fears, doubts, worries you have about yourself and your fabulousness were learned from the people around you and from your own temporary failures. They are far from the truth. The truth is you were born confident. It’s not something you need to go out and buy. It’s already who you are.
Day #16 Book it
There are few better accountability partners than panic, non-refundable expense and the threat of public humiliation. Put something in place that will hold you accountable for sticking to your habit. If you’re learning a piano, book a gig to perform at a friend’s party or on Facebook live.
Day #17 Give thanks
Gratitude is something you get to choose consciously. You’ve experienced a temporary setback so you could learn from it. Be grateful for your mind, body and soul for the experience. Be grateful for the person you’re becoming. Use this feeling of gratitude to stay motivated and take the next step.
Day #18 Pay it forward
People feel much more satisfaction and happiness when they share their gifts with others. Use your natural generosity to anchor in your habit and stay on track. All day today, practice feeling into how much you’re going to the world around you.
Day #19 Stick like glue
Success favors the stubborn. If you make patience your biggest ally, your habit will become second nature to you at some point. Stay the course no matter how difficult it gets. Tenacity is the number one thing successful people talk about when asked how they got there where they’re at.
Day #20 Surrender
Trade any doubts, frustration and impatience you have for ease, joy and trust in the universe. What you focus on you create more of, so spend the day focusing on the fact that you don’t have to focus on your habit.. Because that’s part of who you are.
Day #21 Rinse, review, rejoice and repeat
This is your last day. Review your mantra and if you need, upgrade it. You’re no longer at the beginning and the words in your mantra may not be so powerful now that your habit has been on repeat for a few weeks.
“All human beings are in the school of lie. We’re spending our one and only shot at being who we are for an A instead of hanging out on the smoking patio and convincing ourselves to settle for B or C+. That right there is something to celebrate.”