Consistency isn’t about habits, but about routine. You don’t just do one thing at a time, but one thing after another throughout the day.
For instance, I drink coffee – a habit, but my morning routine is such that I wake up, exercise and shower and after I shower I start to make my coffee. If I wake up later or don’t exercise, my coffee may or may not happen. All because of my routine.
What I outlined is s simplistic view of my routine, which is actually broken into sub-routines and discreet habits, but you get the point. In order to build a new habit, it needs to be a part of your ROUTINE.
Don’t just think about the new thing you want to do, think about the whole flow of your day. and then start getting curious. You can ask, “is this something I really want to do?” “is this something I have the ability to do?” “is this something that I can break down into small pieces so that I don’t get discouraged?” “who am I becoming because of this new habit?” …
Below is a scenario based on a client’s journey.
Judy (not her really name) wanted to start meditating because she had heard all of the benefits and had been successful at it in the past. But for the past 5 years, she had not taken the time to re-establish the habit. First, we identified some qualities about ideal times when she felt like she could meditate. That helped narrow the window of when the meditation would most likely happen – for her it was first thing in the morning before anyone else got up.
Next, we set boundaries on what was possible in terms of ability as she was just re-starting. Sitting in meditation for 2 minutes seemed ideal as a first step. The key with this is to establish a time boundary that you see yourself doing regularly. It’s easy to start too aggressively, and then a few days in you find yourself avoiding the new habit because it feels like a time-sucking burden.
To keep accountable and feel good about what she was doing, Judy decided she would track her meditation days on a calendar.
Over the next few weeks, her sitting times became longer and more automatic. What was remarkable was that she noticed the days that she missed and was sure to not miss two days in a row as “the world just felt better after meditation.”
Habits don’t work on their own, but along with other habits that you are already doing without thinking about them, creating an automatic ROUTINE.
New behaviors are best implemented when they are things that you really want to do AND that move you towards your longer-term goal(s)
It’s important to understand that HOW you feel about the new behavior matters when it comes to making it stick. If you beat yourself up over NOT sitting in meditation for longer, or for missing a day or two, you are likely not going to want to continue. If instead, you congratulate yourself for doing what you DID DO and knowing that acknowledging the day you missed means that you really really care and need this new thing, you are more likely to continue.
This pattern of habit formation in part of the coaching work that I do and is based on the Tiny Habits methodology created by BJ Fogg (https://www.bjfogg.com/)
Trust that I could rely on an AI chat bot to write these. I don’t. I write what matters to me, from my experiences and client successes. What matters to you?