By Benjahmin Koenigsberg
Are you happy in your life?
What if the happiness and fulfillment we experience in life is not a reflection of how rich, beautiful or privileged we are, but rather a result of the less glamorous habits that we keep?
Both personally and professionally as a wellness coach, I know how frustrating it can be to break bad habits and start new ones.
I encourage you though; please don’t give up on your personal growth, even if you have “failed” with making life changes in the past. Here are a few tips for implementing better habits in your life.
- Start with your self image
In his book Atomic Habits, which this article is mostly informed by, author James Clear writes about how our self-image dictates our behaviors.
Many people start off with superficial goals in mind, such as having a slimmer body or more money, instead of addressing their core beliefs and assumption about themselves and the world.
Identity-based habit and behavioral change focus on assuming a new identity first. Start by asking yourself, “what beliefs or assumptions would I likely have to have to experience the behaviors and outcome I desire?”
- Starting really small
James Clear advises new habits should start off by being really small. Reduce a new habit to an action that is achievable within two minutes or less.
Consistency is more important than volume when starting a new behavior.
If we set out with ambitious habits or goals, when motivation fades or we start to falter, it’s easy to give up and reinforce our negative self-image, like being a failure or being broken.
When completing a small task, like doing just one push up, or writing just one line in your journal, for example, barely any motivation or inspiration is needed.
Try adopting a small enough habit that can be easily done daily for a month or two; then build on it. By babying ourselves at the onset of change, we can build self-efficacy and reinforce a new self-image; one of success and follow-through.
For example, I started off with a daily journal practice of 5-10 minutes, which kind of felt like a chore. Ultimately, I was not able to stick with it.
My new habit is to only write 5 things I am grateful for in my journal, which I can definitely do in less than two minutes.
- Habit stacking
Habit stacking is wonderful because it harnesses the potency of existing habits. An old habit serves as the impetus, a reminder or a cue to begin the new one.
In my case, my bad habit is to check my phone unnecessarily several times a day, so I made a default lock screen for my phone with a blank background and the words, “what are you grateful for?” Now, every time I check my phone, before I can scroll mindlessly on social media, I see this pleasant reminder on my screen to think of something I am grateful!
This habit also aims to reinforce my desired self-image of someone who is grateful.
Another example of habit stacking I’ve used is to floss my teeth immediately after I finish brushing them, combining them into one longer but continuous habit.
Humans are creatures of habit; so we might as well use the power of habits to our advantage. Our latent potential and dreams are waiting.
Try pursuing goals that are in line with the values of the person you want to become, instead of just superficial outcomes you hope to gain. Give yourself permission to start with a really chunked-down version of your desired habit. What can you do everyday in less than two minutes that would ensure you get closer to your ultimate goals? Remember to harness the power of habit stacking; let an existing habit be a reminder to begin a new one.
I also highly recommend reading James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, for more information about habits, success and human behavior.
For individuals interested in accelerating their growth, I recommend hiring a personal development coach who can offer additional accountability and perspective to ensure your efforts are maximized and your blind spots are covered.
- Benjahmin Koenigsberg is a Kapa‘a-based online heath coach helping people who love eating to stay trim easily without dieting. For those struggling to lose weight or trust their appetites, Benjahmin offers a complimentary coaching call for gaining fresh insight into current health challenges and future goals. Visit eatwell2bwell.comor call (503) 358-5187.