When we reflect on our performance it’s common to identify habits we’d like to change. The bad news is, because our brain likes to hardwire everything it can, it’s almost impossible to ‘change’ a habit.
However the good news is, it’s relatively easy to create new wiring and thus build positive habits that eventually take over from the bad ones. Think of it like walking on the same path in a paddock for years, over time a track is gouged into the landscape. However, if you consciously decide to start walking a new trail, the old track will eventually fade and the new path will become clearer, easier to walk and the one you’re most likely to choose.
One tool to build better habits is to use Implementation Intentions, linking intention to a behaviour or exisiting habit. Implementation Intentions are a simple formula:
‘When/if X happens, then I will do Y’.
For example, as part of my commitment to doing more inversions in my daily yoga practice I want to do a 20 breath handstand every day. An existing habit I have from childhood is making my bed each morning. So I implemented the following intention: ‘before I make the bed I do a 20 breath handstand’. Now when I return from my shower and see the unmade bed, it immediately reminds me to do that inversion. I do a quick handstand, and then I make the bed.
It works because it’s trigger by an existing habit, it’s simple and effortless; taking less than 30 seconds out of my schedule, yet the consistency is building muscle that helps in other areas of my yoga practice.
The three keys to making habits stick are positive feedback, attention and repetition. Enlisting an ‘implementation buddy’ can also be a big help.
Do you have a new habit you want to build? What existing habit do you have that you can tie the intended new one to? Who could you ask to keep you on track with it?
Need someone to keep you motivated when building new habits? A coach can help. If you’d like to know more about my coaching program for business owners and entrepreneurs, view details and pricing for my 12 week package here or drop me an email to arrange a chat.
Photo by Lili Popper on Unsplash