Let’s start easy, with the good news, since building new habits seems hard and positive emotions are required for victory here.
One thing we know well is our current track or habits.
The good news is each was successfully created by YOU! When you created them, your objectives were your own, from deep within, and they were emotionally charged.
Take a minute to look at the long view.
- Where will your repeated thoughts, emotions, and behaviors lead you if you continue for the next 5 years?
- Will you be stronger spiritually, healthier, more informed and effective, have closer relationships, be happier? Or are you headed for trouble?
- What makes your habits so easy to fall into?
- What is the cue, or trigger, for each one?
- What is the physical, mental, or emotional routine that follows?
- What is the reward or benefit that makes us want to go back to the routine in the future?
Any habit is created within and adheres to this trigger, behavior, reward cycle.
If you look, you will see cues in the form of time, location, people you are with, certain emotions, or something you’ve just done, like wake up in the morning or get out of work, that lead to routine. (There are charts and graphs readily available online to record these findings and prepare for new habit formation once you are committed.)
Your mind, emotions, and body ALWAYS want to move toward pleasure and away from pain, so any changes must be more attractive than your current reality.
Come up with a reward that will bring immediate gratification until you feel the reward from the new behavior alone, if necessary.
When I _(cue)__, I will __(behavior)__ and reward myself by____.
You have created neural pathways in your brain much like a riverbed. More good news is that we can create new pathways.
Change your mind, change your life, and change your brain!
If you live in an area with snow, like I do, you might visualize this as a toboggan course, where the toboggan slips easily into the track and stays there, requiring no effort but to go along for the ride.
When you are on virgin snow your first trip will likely be slow, awkward, and you may even get stuck. When you go back to the top and start over, you’ll pick up momentum to go a little further next time. Make sure your toboggan is headed for a steep smooth run and not a tree.
There is incredible power in our ability to act and feel as though change has already happened.
When we combine a clear objective with heightened emotions, we create the pleasure sensation necessary for the reward part of the cycle.
- How successful would you feel if you had already been following your new, desired habits for 5 years? How much fun would that be?
- Are you ready to start practicing?
- What does your new personality look like?
- What behaviors have put you successfully where you wanted to be spiritually, physically, intellectually, relationally, emotionally, financially? Can you feel the reward?
Repeated thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of success will lead to that future even if you can’t quite reach it yet.
Laurie Curtis, CPPC, CiPP, TIRF, LSRF –www.curtisease.com