The magic of atomic habits.
“Your life today is a sum of your daily habits.”
James Clear, Atomic Habits
Habits are so ingrained in our lives that we’re not actually conscious of most of them. Developing awareness of what we do with the glorious 24 hours that we have each day can help us consciously make decisions to improve our habits and, as a result, improve our lives.
To create a new habit that sticks:
1. Start small.
If you’re a night owl who wants to start getting 8.5 hours sleep a night, drastically changing your routine is unlikely to be effective long-term. Make the behaviour shift in increments. On the first day, start by going to bed ten minutes earlier than before.
The next night, make it twenty minutes earlier, and so on, until you reach your goal. Sticking with it will be much more likely because of the gradual process.
Tracking brings immediate gratification, and progress is the best type of motivation - especially on the days we don't feel like doing something.
4. Make it easy.
If you’re planning to go for a run in the morning, leave your gear ready next to the bed. To start a habit of drinking more water, pre-fill two large bottles and put them on your desk.
5. Make it irresistible.
Want to go to bed earlier? Invest in beautiful sheets. Aiming to listen to more podcasts? Buy a great quality pair of headphones.
6. Get back on track.
Even the most disciplined sportspeople fall off the wagon sometimes. Rebound quickly. Missing once is human. Repeating that behaviour is the beginning of a new habit.
7. Be accountable.
Be accountable to yourself (through recording your progress) or, even better, have an accountability partner to share your habit goals with. Ask them to check in with you, or keep a log of your progress to share with them at the same time each day or week.
8. Be patient.
The story of the hare and the tortoise always comes to mind for me. Our brains are wired to feel rewarded with immediate results. That’s why good habits can be hard to start or keep up, and bad habits stick for longer. Good habits have a longer lead time to the ultimate gains, whereas bad habits yield satisfaction almost immediately.
Take the example of making the time to deepen your learning about recovery vs. having a drink. Having a drink might satiate a desire to eliminate stress, however the long-term result is detrimental. Making the time to understand, act on, and live in recovery is challenging and doesn’t show immediate results, however satiates our need for a healthy and fulfilling life in the long-term.
These are just some of the many ways to start a habit that sticks. Behaviour change and habit forming is a method I use in recovery coaching. To find out how we can work together please get in touch.