Why habits?

A lot of the time in coaching we talk about introducing a new habit, building them around ones that already exist and designing our day in a certain way to create success.

Most of the time we try to introduce no more than three habits at once, as otherwise it becomes overwhelming and the likelihood of you sticking to them is slim. That doesn’t mean that you won’t work on the 12 habits you want to nail down over the course of six months to a year. What it means is, that some of them take greater priority, or will have a greater impact than others if you start them now.

How many times have you decided to start a new training programme, at a new gym, in a calorie deficit with a million new foods you can hardly say the name of, whilst also wanting to meditate daily, read a new book and win the skincare regime of a lifetime? All at the same time.

How did it go? Really well I imagine.

There’s a reason that when we work through our habits we start with only a few. It may look like this:

  • One that you’ve already got mostly nailed now - an easy win and encourager

  • One that won’t take too long to get in the rhythm of and has good carryover to help with other things you want to do

  • One that is likely to take a bit longer but when you’ve got it, it’ll have a big impact - a slow burner

If you pick three habits that are all going to be difficult, don’t really fit into your life and feel like you’re really overreaching to make them happen, you probably need to change them. Give yourself six weeks to solidify each habit before you make a change.

Tips to make habits easier:

  • What do you already do pretty regularly that you can tag a habit on to?

  • Morning coffee or tooth brushing - add on making your bed, or meditation in between

  • Walking the dog, getting the tube, or walking to work - add a podcast around a theme that interests you, or you want to learn more about

  • Evening TV watching - do a few stretches whilst you watch your shows

  • Don’t think about them as actions or chores, instead think about habits that take you closer to being the person you want to be

  • I want to be a more present person that can respond with ease and focus on the task at hand more effectively - meditation can help, or simply putting your phone down

  • It is important to me to be on top of current affairs so I feel more knowledgeable at work - I’ll listen to the news/a podcast/read a book to help with this

  • I want to be a calmer person - spending time looking after my body and mind with evening stretches/yoga will help me prioritise relaxation before bed and therefore not be unrested and irritable

As you can see, these are not always task-driven habits, instead, they are tied to qualities, personality traits or skills that are important as an individual. There is no right or wrong reason to do something, but it is extremely helpful to coordinate them with your values so you see the true benefit. Rather than, “oh yeah, this is just a good thing to do, I guess”.

A client I have recently been working with working on a few key habits:

  1. He found he had a sweet tooth early in the day, so he started drinking a pint of water each morning and noticed a huge difference - this habit is now well ingrained with clear evidence

  2. He had meditated in the past and wanted to make it a more regular habit again - on the days he did it, he found he was more focused at work, but often found it tricky to time right because of changing work schedule (pandemic office closures) and family commitments (looking after his son) but he enjoyed meditation with his favourite morning coffee a few days a week

  3. He wanted to improve his lifts in the gym and we could see limitation in mobility were holding him back, he also didn’t have a great sleep routine - so we worked on evening mobility before bed to relax and unwind, as well as improve his big lifts

Do any of these sound helpful for you?

Happy habit-ing, start with small steps and build from there!

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