Master Skill Building for Habits to Support the Life You Really Want
“The future depends on what we do in the present.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi
The Yo-Yo diet, a roller coaster of emotions, the ebb and flow of life are expressions we use to describe how life never happens in a straight line. We’re not robots, nor do we rely on instinct like animals do. We have to use our brains to plan, to choose, to decide, to act… Yet we often revert to unhealthy old behaviors rather than adopt new, healthier ones. Why is that?
When you try to do something that goes against your habitual behavior, you fight not only against your circumstances; you fight against yourself! But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope. When you focus on skill building for habits that serve you rather than on changing solely by means of willpower, you’ll finally be able to create the life you really want to live.
According to Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, “40% to 45% of what we do every day is actually habit.” His studies led him to discover that every habit has three components. 1) The Cue – the trigger for the behavior; 2) The Behavior – what you do; and 3) The Reward – teaches your brain how to encode the pattern of behavior. Most people focus on the behavior, but it’s the cue and the reward that really determine why you practice a specific habit.
Do you want to reset your habits? It can be done through skill building. For habits to stick, they have to become your default state of being. Habits are automatic, naturally brain-friendly, learned behaviors. Yes, you’ve learned every habit you have.
That means you have the power to mindfully create any habit you want, if you learn the foundation of skill building for habits. Here are seven steps to make it happen…
- Identify one small action or thought you really want to embrace. Make it tiny and specific to increase your chances of success. For example, if you want to journal so you become more self-aware of the habits that are holding you back, your first step will be to buy a special journal and pen, and keep them with you.
- Choose an anchor behavior (The Cue) that triggers your new action. As soon as you experience a supportive action or self-limiting belief, jot in your journal a note, so you can explore it later in the day.
- Keep your new behavior (The Behavior) simple. Don’t over-complicate things or rush into trying to do too much. Every night, brew a cup of tea, sit in a designated spot and finish the entry in your journal.
- Create an environment conducive to success. If you habitually sit in front of the TV after dinner, don’t sit in that chair to journal. This helps break the cycle.
- Celebrate (The Reward). Don’t wait for some big milestone, before you celebrate. Each time you tell yourself you did a great job today, you release dopamine into your brain. This reward makes you want to replicate the behavior to experience that feeling again. If you have trouble talking nicely to yourself, be sure to enlist the help of a mentor, coach or friend who celebrates every win, no matter if they seem small. A win is a WIN!
- Rinse and repeat. Repetition is the mother of retention. The more you do it, the easier it becomes.
- Assess and adjust. Even if a method worked for someone else, if it doesn’t work for you, try something different until you find a method that does work. Actively search for the best solution for YOU.
Over time, your new habit will be stored in your unconscious mind. It will become automatic and easy to do. No more fighting yourself to do what you really want! Baby steps lead to transformation. If you’d like guidance and accountability as you develop your skills for building new habits, please contact me and an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype). It’s easier when you have help.