Very often, when people come to the practice, part of what we’re working to do together is about habit change. Whether that is to exercise more often, or whatever it may be. Habit change is a big topic, and this is not an exhaustive article about changing habits and behaviour, just a life hack that may be useful to you.
So how do you start a new habit? Or pick up an old one perhaps? Our lives are so busy that we often don’t feel we have time to add a healthy habit in, even if we know we need to. I can definitely relate, with 2 small kids, one of the first things to go when you get busy are those healthy habits that help us take care of ourselves, and not just get through the hard, busy times, but thrive through them.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve come across is to start small but make it non-negotiable (paraphrasing James Clear in his excellent book Atomic Habits). Whatever it is you want to start, just start with 5 minutes a day, and make it absolutely non-negotiable that you will not miss it, come what may. It’s pretty hard to argue that you can’t spend 5 minutes a day on something. If 5 minutes seems like too much, start with 1 minute. Who doesn’t have a single minute to do something?
The other reason to start small is that it is far less confronting to start small, then to try and start a habit that takes say 20-30 minutes. But once you have a 5-minute habit, then you can build on it from there. It’s much easier to turn a 5-minute habit into a 10-minute habit, and then build from there to 20, than it is to just start a 20 minute habit off the bat. As a strategy to get build up the time for your habit, you could start with 5 minutes, and add 1-2 minutes a week until you are at the time you are aiming for.
The final thing about habits is to recognise that you’re in it for the long-term. One workout, or meditation session, or good meal is great, but it’s the accumulative effect where the power lies. So, the point is to be consistent and not to give yourself a hard time about it. If you do have a busy day and you miss a day, that’s ok. If you stress that missing days will mean you’re not successful, then that can also be a barrier to getting back to it. Just let that go and start the next day again, anew.
Image by bertvthul pixabay