You didn’t ‘get out of the habit’, you ‘stopped making the decision’
Hearing the hard stuff
I was on a coaching call this morning and my client said to me, “I was doing really well, and then I just got out of the habit”.
I asked her how it was true that in actual fact what happened, was that she stopped making the decision to do it.
There was silence.
Before she replied,
“Well it’s not true. I didn’t decide not to do it, it was a subconscious thing”.
And this can be true
Over 40% of our actions every day are based in habit, not decision.
But when you want to change your life, hit a goal, create a different reality – your power is in claiming back your decisions.
Making the decision NOT to plan and schedule something that you know moves you toward the goal, is a decision not to prioritise the goal. To ‘let the habit slip’ is to stop deciding to make it important.
I know how hard it is
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m giving myself a new 30 day challenge every month. This month it’s 10 minutes of stretching every day. And I’ve not done it for 4 days. It might not have been a conscious decision to skip it and it may have felt like “it slipped my mind” but I know that the truth is I’ve not made the commitment. I’ve not scheduled it, I’ve prioritised something else and ultimately, this is because in my brain I am not making it important enough.
Showing some compassion
This is NOT about giving yourself something else to beat yourself up for. It’s about raising awareness and taking radical personal responsibility for the decisions we make and what we choose to prioritise.
So, if you have used the story, “I let the habit slip”, it’s OK and now I encourage you to choose a different story. Because once you take radical personal responsibility you can play detective about what needs to happen so that you don’t skip that thing that matters!
For example – when you investigate WHY you stop doing the thing, maybe you notice that you’re not putting it in your schedule, that you are trying to do too much in too short a time or that you actually really hate doing that thing.
Now you get to problem solve for THAT. You schedule a specific time every day to do the thing. You remove something else that you don’t need to focus on right now to create more time or perhaps you ask yourself, “how else could I do this”? That way you can stop doing something you hate and give yourself a chance to succeed because you’ve chosen something you can like?
Maybe you stopped doing the thing because you didn’t see progress – so how do you solve for that?
Did you stop doing the thing because you felt like you had no support? How do you problem solve for that?
Perhaps you stopped doing the thing because you thought there as a quicker/easier way? How did that work out for you?
To stop leaving your habits to luck, you need focus.
I like to use the term “Ritual” vs “Habit”. We know that habit implies it’s something “we just do” because we’ve practiced it enough times it’s just ‘who we are’.
At the same time, I also think this is a space that has the potential for complacency. Whereas when we make something Ritualistic, it’s because we are in that present moment, reminding us why this act or habit is so important.
For example, I often don’t feel like working out. But I still do it (most of the time). Now I could show up to my workout and just get on with it, but instead I remind myself that it’s because I am strong, I value my health, I want to improve my flexibility etc. This keeps me intentional with my actions and helps me make better decisions all day, in every way about my health.
In order for you to be more compliant, to commit more to the promises you make to yourself here’s 3 simple tips.
#1. Schedule it – its easy, takes next to no time but sky rockets the chances of you doing what you say you’ll do. And here’s the other thing, if it’s in your diary and you don’t do it, there is no denying that you gave something else priority.
#2. Remind yourself why it’s important. Rather than just seeing it as a to-do list which is more overwhelming than inspiring, remind yourself several times a day why you’re doing the things. Tell yourself who you are becoming, how your life will be different because of this commitment and how capable you are. Focus on the change being created vs the single, stand alone action .
#3. Do Less Do Better – it’s easy to believe that more is better. But when you’re struggling with commitment and new habits, it’s often the reason you fail. It’s totally ok and even powerful, to pick just one or two things to focus on at a time. Not only will you become an expert at that ritual, more importantly you will become and expert and committing to the decisions you make. Once you’ve nailed that, there’s nothing you can’t achieve.