At some point in your quest to form new habits, you will develop new routines that will better your life and you will start to settle into a pattern. If you are early in the process (less than 50 days), then you are still subject to changes in your emotional state that could derail you. There will be easy days and really hard days – but the important part is to push on though. Once you get past 90 days, a fully formed habit has kicked in and you will start to forget about how hard it is, and in some cases you will already have completed the habit before you can even complain about it. Hard to believe early on, but the good incremental habit you are forming will become just another everyday task that you have to do. Brushing your teeth for example, you are on autopilot with that one (I hope) but there was a time when Mom or Dad had to constantly nag you to do so.
This leads me to triggers and you should not hesitate to start to use this as a tool. You will develop triggers, you cannot avoid it. So, in my opinion, it is better to be purposeful about what triggers you form. I know that many people that have strong addictions, to things like Tobacco, sometimes say this is the harder thing to overcome then the Nicotine addiction itself. Once the withdrawals are gone, which might take a week or so, you are then battling the long established triggers. Those are REALLY hard to overcome. Whenever I get in the car for a drive, whenever I get done with a phone call, just after I eat lunch. All of these are examples of triggers that can cause the trained human to react. Think of the experiment in which Pavlov rang a bell every time he fed the dogs in the kennel. This is called classical conditioning and I can guarantee that you have that going on in your life right now.
However, you can use this deeply embedded trait of our species to your advantage. You just have to be aware of the existence of triggers and then start to control how they impact you. Instead of triggering bad, they can now trigger good. Yes, it is that simple. You can start to insert your new good habit into the place where a bad habit might have once existed. It will take a few weeks, but after several days of that same consistent behavior and suddenly you will find that after you do X, you will want to do Y. No more internal debates with your primal mind. I have several that I have now developed, some stronger than others. A work in progress for sure, my morning is not a locked in routine – it is not always the same. However, when I decide on certain activities there are habitual good activities that follow.
I got this idea reading about a person that was doing 1000 pushups a day. I thought that was incredible, how? He started with this concept that every time he had to pee, he would knock out 50 pushups. Overtime, he built more pushup triggers. I thought, wow, if I did 10 pushups after or during every conference call, I would get to a 1000 in no time! This got me to start thinking of the creative use of triggers. Instead of thinking about my day as a rigid schedule of tasks that have to be completed in order, I started thinking about executing good habits after a particular trigger has occurred. This is not a perfect idea, but for some things – it is working really well. I have become so automatic on some things that I hardly even notice that I am doing my once very challenging habit.
So now, I keep adding habits to my daily life. Using triggers to help remind me, encourage me and deeply embed them into my life to the point where I just have to do them. Just like a person feel like they “have” to use tobacco, you can feel the same way about a pushup or whatever habit that will improve yourself that you have decided upon. I recommend using this as a tool, it will not always work, but if you can figure out a trigger that will cause you to perform the habit every time, you will be amazed how much you can accomplish with what was once the empty vacuum of time that filled each day. At this point I am running, blogging, writing, meditating, doing pushups, situps, squats, reading, stretching, documenting what I eat, and memorizing every day. A few other things as well, but I do not consider those habits yet.
The amazing thing is that my old self would have said – I don’t have time for all these things. The new self is realizing that not only did I have plenty of time, I am now more effective with the time that I do spend on a task. I do not believe my work has suffered, I think it has improved. Incredible really, how much time we waste in a day and do not even realize it!
Guy Reams (379)
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