Easier said than done.
Developing new habits means that we need to change something, undo the old and bring in the new as they say. It’s the change part of that equation that is the hardest. As individuals we’re not really resistant to change, although it seems that the opposite is true. Change happens to us. Just look at the way the human beings evolve from conception to death. Newborn babies don’t physically resemble adults and vice versa. But yet when it comes to getting out of our daily comfort zone, boy is that tough. The task of brushing your teeth every morning is a great example. Just imagine one day that you cleaned your teeth holding the toothbrush with your other hand and not the regular one. No so comfortable, and can be downright awkward.
How do you overcome that natural resistance to change, and begin embracing new ways of doing things? Here are five habits to start exercising on a regular basis so that they become part of a routine embedded in daily life:
Start by imagining in your mind what the desired change will actually look like, feel like, and smell like. Create a mini YouTube clip in your mind and imagine that you are the director in a film staring you. Look at the way you are going to behave. Athletes, when preparing for a major event use this technique, known as “visualizing”, to help then create conditions for success during a competition. Playing back the movie in their mind time and time again. Research has shown that there is a correlation between thinking and doing. Just by thinking of an action, fires neural pathways in your brain as if you were actually doing it.
Wanting to achieve too much too quickly can lead to disappointment and frustration if the final objective is not achieved. It’s much better to go for incremental steps and reflect on each step of the way. For example, if your goal to is stop drinking coffee, stopping suddenly from one day to the next has been shown to induce withdrawal symptoms in some people. Another way of doing it would be to only drink a cup on every other day to begin with. Then after a month cut back and make it only on the weekends and then only once a month until finally stopping it altogether. Gradually, you will achieve your goal over time.
For any change to become a habit it also requires an objective that gets you “stretching” out of your comfort zone. This is all about self-motivation and challenging some preconceived beliefs. Never allow your enthusiasm and energy to be dampened by the discouragement that comes inevitably when you adopt a new way of doing something. If what you’re doing isn’t working, find an alternative route to your objective. But don’t quit. By reaching for the impossible you may well find that it becomes possible.
Once your goal is achieved, then it needs to be sustained over time so as to avoid going back to the old ways. Just like learning a new language or any new skill, regular practice is key here. The neural networks in your brain have now formed new pathways whilst still keeping the old one’s active. Keep repeating the new habits as often as possible at the beginning and over time letting your subconscious mind guide you. Just like learning a new skill we go through four stages: unconscious incompetence, we are not fully aware of what needs to be done and certainly don’t have the skills; conscious incompetence, we know what we want to do and don’t have the skills yet to do it; conscious competence, we know what we want to achieve and have the skills to do it; unconscious competence, we do things without thinking about them (riding a bike, swimming, changing gears in a car).
Tell others about your achievements, no matter how great or small. Publicly broadcasting this will increase your self-confidence and self esteem. Use social media to help you here. Post your success social netwoking sits such as: Facebook, Twitter, or even YouTube. Research has shown that when you declare your ambitions and success publicly, it creates intrinsic motivation that helps you to continue in that direction.