Habits shape our actions and influence our decisions. This is why it is important to consider our habits carefully and think about whether they help or hinder us from achieving our goals. Good habits can lead to positive change in our lives, while bad habits can potentially steer us away from the path that leads us to our goals.
Since habits occur outside of our conscious awareness, we rarely think twice about them. This means we carry out our habits as though we are on autopilot. However, by simply becoming aware of our habits, we can make the necessary changes to ensure our habits don’t hinder us from achieving our goals.
I talk about the importance of habits further in this episode of The Mindset Coach. I also dig into why you need to become aware of what your habits are and why they exist in the first place. In doing so, you’ll find it much easier to alter your habits so that you can be more productive and move closer to achieving your ultimate goals in your personal life and career.
You can listen to this episode of the podcast below or keep reading…
P.S. I suggest having a pen and piece of paper handy for this one!
Think about one specific goal
You can apply this strategy to all your goals. But for now, please think about one goal in particular. Next, think about the habits that help and support you in achieving that goal.
What habits make it easier for you to make that goal a reality? It could be a physical habit or a mental one. Perhaps you set yourself up for success with your thoughts, or maybe there is a set of specific actions that work together to help you.
Write down the things that help you achieve that goal. Then, venture into the opposite side of that and write down the habits that may be holding you back from achieving that goal.
An important thing to note is that habits aren’t always about behaviour. Habits can also be your habitual way of thinking. Perhaps you tend to linger in negative thoughts for too long, or your thoughts drive emotions that make you feel inadequate or even incapable of reaching your end goal. These negative thoughts are definitely not helping you to move the needle, so add them to the list of hindering habits you’d like to overcome.
What is your morning routine?
How you start your day can greatly impact how the rest of your day plays out. I always recommend that you start your morning by wiring your brain to focus on what you desire to achieve. This will help you stay focused throughout the day, and it’s a great habit to help set yourself up for success.
Think about what happens every morning when you wake up. If you’re stuck in the habit of going over negative thoughts in your head over and over again, you’re probably not going to feel motivated to make the best of your day. So, let’s try to change that by creating an effective morning routine.
Think about how you start your days. Do you check social media as soon as you wake up? Do you journal in the morning? Or perhaps you keep a gratitude journal and reflect on things in your life that you’re truly grateful for?
How you spend your time in the morning forms your morning routine. Think about your own morning routine and pay close attention to how you spend your mornings. What is your first thought in the morning? What or who has your attention during that time? Write all these things down and keep track for a few days in a row to really capture the thoughts and actions that take up your mornings without you even realising it.
What are your daily habits?
Next, I want you to think about the rest of your day and your habits. As you go about your day, note down the things that you do habitually. Perhaps you organise your office, put the laundry away, get the kids ready for school, help the kids with their homework, etc.
Creating and forming habits is an essential part of supporting yourself in achieving your goals. However, you’ve got to identify the habits that will help you achieve your goals, which requires some time, thought, and patience.
An excellent place to start is by considering what daily habits are helping or hindering you in achieving your goals. Then, think about what new habits can help you move the needle closer to your goals. Perhaps waking up an hour earlier will give you the time you need to get things done. Or maybe you can start getting super organised so that you spend less time navigating through a cluttered office or a cluttered mind, for that matter.
What is your evening routine?
Your evening routine is just as important as your morning routine. What is your evening routine like? Are you getting enough sleep, or are you lying awake, stressing about things you can’t control?
The habits you have at night can impact how well your mind and body rest overnight. The better rested you are, the better equipped you’ll be in the morning to tackle the day ahead.
So, pay attention to how you spend your evenings, and if you’re not getting enough physical rest, think about how you can form new habits to change that.
The four key stages of a habit
In James Clear’s book, “Atomic Habits,” he talks about the different stages of forming a new habit. He also talks about how your habits, no matter how small, can have a revolutionary effect on your career, your relationships, and your life.
There are four key stages of a habit, and it helps to understand each one so that you can learn how to change and form new habits in your life.
Stage 1 – The Trigger
The trigger is the cue that tells your brain it’s time to carry out the habit. An example would be waking up to an alarm in the morning. The alarm acts as the trigger to remind you to get up at the same time every day.
We also have cues for our habitual thoughts. Certain triggers will get your thought train going, and you might not even pick up on the triggers on a conscious level. Nevertheless, they exist, and they trigger a habit.
Triggers are a powerful way for you to ensure you are forming habits that work well for you. You can set the alarm at a different time to help you get in the habit of waking up earlier. You could also leave your running shoes next to your bedside table to remind you to go for a jog today, etc.
Stage 2 – The Craving
If you want to begin a new process of behaviour, there must be a motivating factor. In other words, you have to actually want to do it. Your vision for the future will play into your cravings a lot. For example, you might have a mental picture of what you want your future to look like. That vision could be enough to act as the craving that motivates you to take action.
Another important factor that plays into this stage of a habit is seeing progress. It really helps to motivate you to keep going when you can see that what you’re doing is working. Your identity also plays a huge role in whether or not you actually follow through with something. If you want to start running, identify yourself as a runner. Once you do that, you are much more likely to embrace the behaviours and habits that come with being a runner.
Stage 3 – The Response
The response is the actual habit itself. The trigger either consciously or subconsciously spurs you to action. The craving motivates you to follow through, and the response is when you’re actually performing the habit.
As coaches, we want to help our clients move from inertia to action. When our clients are able to take action, it means that they are working towards achieving their goals, which is exactly what we want them to do!
Stage 4 – The Reward
The final stage of a habit is the reward, which is what you achieve as a result of completing the habit. For example, if you go running, you’ll have some headspace, get fit, lose weight (if that’s your goal), and clear your mind. Those things are the rewards you get from running.
When thinking about what habits you want to keep, get rid of, or create, think about what the reward of the habit will be. Recognising the reward is a great way to keep you on track. If you want to lose weight, you can track your progress, which helps you to stay motivated since you can see that all of your hard work is paying off.
The reward of the habit fills your body with positive hormonal responses, and you feel good. When you feel good about something you’ve done, you’re much more likely to continue doing it. That’s how new habits are formed.
If you want to create new positive habits in your life, start asking yourself what you can do to help you achieve your goal. How can you embed habits that will help you achieve that goal rather than hinder your progress?
Those are the habits you need to work on, and I really hope that these tips help you to create habits that motivate and inspire positive change in your life.
If you need help embedding new habits, consider joining The Mindset Coach Academy!