On this journey of New Year’s words so far we have done change, intention, and goals. All of these big things we’ve dreamed up the last three weeks, none of them are going to stick unless they are made into habits.
Discussing habits this week is not a coincidence. It takes 21 days to create a new habit, so anything you’ve been doing daily since the first should be taking hold a little more naturally this week. But if things have not stuck that’s ok. I was feeling ill last week and fell off the wagon on a few things myself. Remember, you don’t need a new year to start a new habit, just a new start.
So how to habits work anyway? It’s very simple. There is a cue, followed by a routine, then a reward. The reward leads to craving more and the habit loop continues. The key to habit change is to replace the routine part of the loop.
For example here is one habit I have changed that has helped me to sleep better. I have difficulty falling asleep because my brain goes into overdrive in the silence, I craved distraction from trying to solve all the world’s mysteries, so I use to watch TV in bed until I fell asleep. Craving distraction was the cue, sleep was the reward. But the routine of watching TV actually made it more difficult to reach the reward because of the blue light from the screen. Instead I replaced TV with audiobooks. I fall asleep faster, and sleep deeper. I’m currently working on adding another step to this routine, which is to help quiet my brain by journaling before bed as well.
I would strongly recommend reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg for more insight to how habits work and how to change them. I hope that taking a few moments to meditate on these thoughts each day this week will both become habit and help inspire you to change the routines you want to change. Please tell me, what is a habit you are wanting to create or change right now?