The new year is here along with a new decade and it is my favorite time to reflect on my past twelve months and see where did I did great and where I need to make changes to get where I want to be in the future. This is when I noticed that I needed to make some serious changes to my habits, not just because I want to experiment with new things but because I used to have certain habits in order and my life was doing great, however, somehow I stopped doing these habits and found my self suffering from mental health again in addition to my physical health and business suffering the consequences as well. Why change my habits? because I know that that’s going to be the things that will get things moving and changing for good. This is the first step to take to change things that do not go well with my goals, my values, my mental and physical health, and the growth of my career and business. So today I am sharing with you why are habits so important, how can you start making changes, and what are my top most have habits to date.
WHY ARE HABITS SO IMPORTANT?
Habits have the power to shape the way you live your life, they are strong, they grow over time and they are there without even noticing them. The purpose of habits is to facilitate doing tasks without overthinking them all day, but the problem is that your brain can’t recognize the difference between a good or a bad habit, so, if you are performing bad habits then you can be in serious trouble and not even know why. Habits are made by half our your daily actions, they are predetermined by context, performed unconsciously.
"More than 45% of the actions you perform during your day aren’t actual decisions, but habits."
Habits get encoded in the structure of your brain, saving you time and effort, and making your brain fully stop participating in the decision you are making. Habits are basically the automation of your actions, it frees you up from wasting energy that can be now used on other tasks. Automation of your habits is essential for our well-being, it is a natural evolutionary sense that we have for our survival. Habits create neurological cravings and allow a behavior to active a trigger so you can be rewarded by the release of pleasure chemicals in your brain. Your brain utilizes 20% of the oxygen you inhale, so by making an automatic decision, you are saving energy, and can be used for your physical and other mental functions. Your habits are everything you do, think, and say, this means that everything you think about after a situation, will be the thing you will think about every time this happens, by example, if you ate a cookie and then think about how horrible it is and that you can’t control your mouth, you already imprinted that thought in your brain, and every time you eat something you are “not” supposed to eat, your automatic thought will be how horrible you are.
Trigger: Contextual details which your brain has previously associated with a habit. A place, a time of your day, a person, an emotion. Behavior/Habit: It can be actions performed externally or reactive patterns of thought. Watch TV, eat, smoke, bite your nails, etc. Reward: It reinforces a habit, causes your brain to strengthen the associated links between the trigger and the behavior. The pleasure chemicals released in the brain. Now, the habit loop is reinforced.
Now habits are a great thing, I mean, if you have to be conscious of all of the millions of micro-decisions you have to make every single day, you would always be frustrated, exhausted, and we would never get anywhere and get anything done. Now if you have taken the time during this blog to analyze some of your habits and realize that there are some that need instant attention and change, then I have good news for you, you have the power to not only recognize habits but also can change them. All habits can be ignored, change, or replaced, however, it can be hard to change them, especially the ones that have been part of your day for months or even years because these habits are way too imprinted in your brain. You need to see our habits clearly and recognize them without shame or judgment, otherwise, you won’t be able to start making changes or at least the right ones. Seeing clearly your habits and the choices you made can help you to find out new ways to change those habits. The choices you made today, will determine the choices that will be made by you tomorrow, this means if you choose to eat a cookie today, then you have increased the chances of eating another cookie tomorrow. Try to change habits by using the same trigger, but changing the routine, but making sure that will provide the same reward. We need to take control of every step we take, to consciously choose with thoughts, actions, and behavior you want to become habits. Changing a habit takes commitment, willpower, and an unwavering desire to overcome the bad habits that are not serving you any good at all.
MAKING THE CHANGE
So how did I started to change my habits in the first place? Well, let me share what worked for me the first time and I am implementing it now again, and has worked every time for me.
I started by taking serious notes of everything I did during my day, every important decision I made, everything I ate, and write down every time I had a negative and positive thought and what triggers that.
In another paper, I wrote down what are the habits I needed to implement to start my dream life, think positively and feel great.
Now, I check my first list and see which habits did not serve any purpose at all for me, my life, my business, and my relationships. For example, did waking up at 7 AM, helped me achieve my top to-do list? Is watching two or three episodes of a new show did any good? Did I really have that time to do nothing? Did not write a to-do list or a grocery list helped me to save time? Did thinking about how horrible I am about eating a cookie really helped me feel better or to stop eating another cookie the next day? For me they didn’t so I started to draw a line in the middle of those habits so I now know that they need to be eliminated.
Now I check what I need to implement and put them somewhere and/or fill the new free time I had from the things I eliminated. For example, I now can make the conscious decision to wake up at 5 AM so I can take care of my self-care routine before kids are up, now I can use those extra two hours from watching TV to organize my home, or study, or now I think that it is okay to eat that cookie and that I need to be aware of simply not eating another one the next day or replace it with fresh fruit to stop the craving.
Write them down and make them part of your schedule, if you put them in your calendar you will be more likely to perform them. Set alarms for positive affirmations, to drink more water, to take 5 minutes to focus on your breathing, etc. You can also write notes on post-it notes and put them in your mirrors or door fridge to remind yourself of them until you had automatically change your old habit for a new one.
SOME OF MY HABITS
Waking up two hours before my kids.
Read one book every week.
Read one chapter or a book first thing in the morning.
Journal every morning and every night.
Meditate for 15 minutes in the mornings and in the nights.
Workout at least five times a week.
Have one date night with my kids once a week.
Have 2 hours of family time at night.
Eat mostly at home and healthy.
Go outside and watch nature, hear the animals and wind.
Not check emails or text’s before 9:00 AM
Reflect on my day, and name five positive things that happened.
Write down three things I am grateful for every morning.
Think about what negative thoughts I could change on a positive way.