Doing the work to start a new habit

New habits start in your mind

Making my New Year’s Resolution to wake up earlier was seemingly a great idea.  By waking up earlier I could have more time in the morning to work out, get to work earlier, and all in all have a more productive day.   Well this is the hard sell I tried to make to myself in regards to this as my body is naturally more of a night person than a morning person.  As I began every morning to set my alarm, I got a strong reaction from my body…. It did was not buying the tough sell my mind was making in regards to waking up early.  In short, the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.  A great way to coordinate your mind and body to the same accord is through successfully building a habit.  When you make consistent changes in your lives by habit building your body gets on auto pilot some the decision becomes second nature instead of a jolting change that can be quickly rejected.  Try these five components to making new habits that support the change you want to see in your life.

  1. Set up a time frame where you can perform your new habit everyday: The number one key to establishing a new habit is consistency.  The magic number suggested for most habit forming is 21 days.  To be safe I think a month is a good time period to give yourself to do something consistently and allow it to become second nature.  During this period the habit it has to be every day.  For my goal of waking up earlier, this means even on weekends and nights where I partied a little too much I have to commit to still waking up at my goal time, EVERY DAY.  The initial period requires a daily practice without exceptions.  Once your habit and your body are comfortable in its routine you can make some modifications.
  2. It starts with the mind so make sure your mind is on the prize. It’s almost impossible to sell your body on something if your mind is not sold that it is a really good idea.  Almost all of us can look at our lives and think we could be doing something better but that does not translate to how and why it would be a good idea to make any particular changes.  Take some time and really figure out how your new habit will impact your life so the brain can start doing some subconscious work in selling the change to your body.
  3. It’s okay to make gradual changes.  You would not expect to go from a size XXL to small overnight, so why expect your mind and body to make drastic changes in the way things operate overnight.  If big jumps are not happening make some goals with little ones that still met your overall goal with time.  Instead of going from an 8am wake up to a 6am wake up, I am trying 30 minute increments.  This way I can still celebrate some success and show my body that the mornings are really not that bad.
  4. Associate the new habit with something else you do like.  There will definitely be some days where your body is not going to like the changes.  It can be a turning point where you continue on your path or through the habit out of the window.  By associating the habit with something you definitely like, you tie this like with something you are still learning to like.  If you like a glass of wine at the end of your day, only give yourself your glass only on days you meet your goal.  Your mind will pick up on the hint that if you want your treat then you need the discipline.
  5. Be honest with yourself if you are not meeting the challenge.  Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy on why our habits are not setting in.  Sometimes even setting small habits reveals other problems, or habits, or issues we have to deal with before we can claim success with a new habit.  Part of the reason my body was saying no to an earlier wake up is that I was going to be at the same wee hours of the morning.  Giving my body nada notice on an hour less of sleep time was not going to work. To meet my goal I had to examine what my body needed as far as sleep and develop a habit that met my goals and my body’s needs.  This is the best way to really develop a healthy habit that you can stick too.

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