Often my business clients ask how can I help them let go of ineffective habits and create new empowering rituals and habits.
We are creatures of habit. Our habits can either assist us to move forwards or impede our progress. The quality of our lives is a direct reflection of the things we do on a regular and consistent basis.
A habit is a behavior or something we do on a regular basis over and over again until it becomes easy and automatic. Rituals are a series of actions that are done with deliberate intention and concentration. Rituals performed consistently over time will eventually become automatic habits.
The key to creating sustainable habits is to consistently start even if we don’t feel motivated. Finding a trigger or visible reminder will help us start easily, increase our follow through and eventually lead to creating lasting change.
For example: planning ahead the night before and creating a ritual such as laying out our workout clothes; running shoes (unlaced and ready to slip on) and gym bag means that we can wake up, put on our clothes and walk out the door without much thought. 30 days of doing this same ritual will form a lasting habit.
Once we create the habit, we can find many ways to improve. The key is to create the habit first and then think about performance and results once the habit is consistent.
Another great reminder is to link the new habit to something we already do as this makes change easier. For example: creating a new habit to stretch is so much easier to remember when it follows our gym routine. The act of going to the gym is something I already do and seeing the mats and foam rollers is a reminder to finish my workout with a stretch.
Starting out small is also another great way to start a habit, as it seems easy to achieve. For example: jogging for 1 minute or doing the plank for 15 seconds and slowing building up our skills and endurance. The act of doing a small habit frequently is far more beneficial than the size, complexity or duration.
Although there is nothing wrong with aspiring to greatness, we have to learn to crawl before we walk, walk before we run and so on. Often people get too far ahead of themselves and give up too soon because it’s too challenging, overwhelming and advanced.
Publically declaring new promises or rituals to our friends, family or even the world will also help us stay motivated and committed. Having a personal trainer twice a week makes me stay accountable and committed even when I don’t feel like going.
If you occasionally waver or have a setback, then get into the habit of re-starting. Missing a day or two is not the end of the world. Don’t be too hard on yourself; become aware of your self-talk, focus on the positives and re-starting the habit.
The success that you have with creating habits readily translates to success in business and other areas of life. Creating sustainable habits in business is a matter of doing the things that are necessary over and over again to achieve desired business outcomes.
Most people intuitively know what these actions are but refrain from doing them because they are overwhelmed, fearful of failure and too readily lapse into their old ineffective habits.
Finding a way to create and enjoy your new habits is therefore key. If you are exercising, enjoy moving your body, the feeling of exertion, your pounding heart and pumping lungs, the increased blood flow and boost to your alertness and mood. Similarly in business, enjoy the processes, steps and small wins along the way that leads you to achieving your goals.
Finally, it’s important to praise yourself for doing the habit and rewarding yourself once you have achieved your goals.