February is rapidly fading into history, and with it the memory of those New Years resolutions that we set with such good intentions… I hope I’m not alone here. Why is it so difficult to follow through on things that we truly desire for our lives?
When we want to make a big change in our lives, it’s easy to get caught up in overwhelm and not do anything while you wait for the perfect moment to do it all at once.
Unfortunately, that moment often proves to be rather elusive.
If you want to make big change happen for real, the best thing you can do is get started right away. It doesn’t have to be a huge step all at once – in fact, it’s best to start with teeny goals – actions so small it would be ridiculous not to take them. I call them #healthyevolutions
Using this exercise to identify an action step that feels manageable, and planning to do it for the next 30 days is a huge step in the direction of what you want to achieve.
But it’s probably not quite enough.
The real trick is to roll your action steps into a healthy habits so you don’t even think about it – like brushing your teeth before bed. It’s just something you do. *Disclaimer: you’ve been brushing your teeth for years, so don’t expect that level of automatic adherence overnight :)
Yesterday one of my teachers put it like this
Imagine your brain patterns are like a forest that you walk through every day. When you take the same path over and over it becomes worn in and obvious, and so you continue to always walk along the same route. It is comfortable, and more importantly it feels safe.
When you decide to walk a new path, at first it’s much less obvious. It will likely take more effort the first few times, and there will definitely be some things that need clearing away as you go. But every day that you choose to walk the new path the old one becomes a little more overgrown. After some time a shift occurs, and the new path becomes the obvious choice.
The key is to remember to ignore the obvious choice and walk the new path instead. I have to design triggers into my life to help with this (what can I say, sometimes I’m
Ideally your triggers will happen without you remembering to do something. An alert from your calendar is a good example. Another is to link your new behavior with something you already do all the time. Putting on your shoes, eating, going to the bathroom, picking up your phone, getting in the car/on the train can all act as triggers that tell you to take action and repeat your new habit.
*TIP* To really anchor a trigger, in the beginning it can be helpful to remind yourself of link between the trigger and the new path. Make a note spelling it out – i.e. after I pick up my phone, I’m going to take 3 deep breaths; after my son goes to bed I’m going to do 5 sun salutations – and post it somewhere obvious for the first few days.
The other key piece is accountability. Tracking your progress holds you accountable to yourself in a very tangible way. Plus it’s fun to actually see your success stacking up! Having another person who is tracking your progress will keep you even more committed. I’ve seen accountability make all the difference in those tough moments when the old path is calling.
The great news is that with this approach, there’s nothing to wait for. You have everything you need to get started right away! Sound too good to be true? Try the 5 simple steps below, and your life will begin evolving today.
Turning intentions into healthy habits:
- Get clear on the bite sized action step to commit to for 30 days
- Plan & place your triggers.
- Announce your goal on Facebook & other places where people you care about will see it
- Put an ‘x’ on a calendar each day when you complete your action (keep the calendar somewhere highly visible & it becomes a trigger in itself)
- Share the calendar regularly on instagram/Facebook, to account for your progress
If social sharing feels like a little too much accountability, team up with someone close to you, and do this together so you can hold each other accountable.
Action is the most important part. I have to keep reminding myself it doesn’t have to be perfect and it doesn’t have to be huge to make a difference. Small but consistent steps are the key to forging new paths!
The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.
~ Samuel Johnson