Monday 10 August 2015 – On Habits

Why create a new habit? Why even bother? What is the importance of establishing new habits? Habits lead to behaviours and the action of establishing a set of new habits can lead to powerful behavioural transformations that have the potential to move your life in a direction that is aligned with your highest values.

The problem for many of us is that when we decide to alter a particular behaviour or develop new habits that we intrinsically know are healthy for us at any or many levels sustaining these habits long enough to not only observe a result but importantly establish a new and evolved neural patterning and psychological adherence becomes difficult. How then, do we overcome this ‘sticking point’?

Every habit has an activation energy in order for it to begin – but the more complex or perceived to be complex/difficult the act or habit, generally the higher the activation energy required to get started. We may be able to draw parallels between hard chemical science and soft behavioural science in this instance.

Activation energy is the minimum amount of energy that must be available for a chemical reaction to occur. Let’s say you are holding a match and that you gently touch it to the striking strip on the side of the match box. Nothing will happen because the energy needed to activate a chemical reaction and spark a fire is not present. However, if you strike the match against the strip with some force, then you create the friction and heat required to light the match on fire. The energy you added by striking the match was enough to reach the activation energy threshold and start the reaction.

Here, we may be able to observe that with any habit we require an ‘activation energy’ in order to get us moving in that direction. We may be able to effectively establish multiple activation energies that support our desired habit. Let us use an example of nutritional health. Lets assume you have been researching and understanding in greater detail the relationship between your physiology/body and food and lets assume that you wish to make some ‘permanent’ nutritional changes that you believe will lead you to better health. An activation energy or point may be to stock up on healthy supplies; rid your home of ‘negative’ food; purchase healthy cook books and even research the nearest restaurants to your home, work, etc that align with this new eating regime. Anything you can do to support this new habit and behaviour you wish to endure will assist with making it easier to start, therefore enhancing your chances of seeing it through long enough in order to reap any benefits.

Below are 11 points that act as a framework to assist you in maximising your potential for success with any new behaviour or hit you wish to establish in life.

  1. Belief in self – believe in yourself to be able to achieve your goals.
  2. Outline the purpose and benefit of your habits and behaviours.
  3. Set appropriate/realistic and timely goals and objectives around your new behaviour –  You know yourself better than anyone.
    • Start small – quantum leaps can be overwhelming and rely on motivation, which is not sustainable, inspiration however is sustainable (see more by driven by inspiration below).
    • Timely goals – set a time around your goals, but stage them, chunk them down. In this case reduce them to smaller goals within your larger objective. This also assists in understanding your behaviour at deeper levels.
    • Understand your goals – become intimate with them, do not engage without knowing what it is you are doing and why. They why is so important.
  4. Focus – we must be committed to our new habits and we must understand why we are committed, this will assist with our focus. With greater focus, comes greater attention, with greater attention, we begin to live and breathe our new behaviours. Remember, Focus and attention is underpinned by intention, so ask yourself why is this new behaviour important?
  5. Be kind to self, this is crucial, there will be times when your habits do not always remain on track as you initially set out. This is ok. All experience is feedback, allowing you regain momentum back in your path with a higher level of insight.
  6. Grit – This is so important. Once we have established the creative prowess through being in a relaxed state of mind and we have identified deeply with our new behaviour, we then require the mental resilience to continue to see it through. But here is the key, this resilience does not rest in the realm of motivation but rather rests in the realm of inspiration…
  7. Link your requested behaviour transformation to your highest values. This is what will inspire you to move through the space of transformation… When we are inspired we are connected to what is most important to us, if you do not know what drives you deeply then you must ask yourself a series of questions that will assist you in becoming inspired by you! If you are interested, I can send you a list of pertinent queries to help you on your way to identifying the unconscious driving forces/values behind who you are.
  8. Understand and list the benefits (individual, social, global) of developing this new behaviour – as a series of questions that open this internal space within to be receptive to the answers.
  9. Preparation is important – but do not overdo it. When paralysis by analysis takes place you know you have gone to far… Prepare enough it make your transition smoother and to get you started.
  10. Create support mechanisms to facilitate to your growth and development through this process.
    • Adjust your environmental conditions.
    • Observe closely your circles of influence.
    • Create lifestyle choices to increase the likelihood of sustaining new habits and minimise reliance on motivation – this will also lower your activation energy, accessing your potential with greater ease and clarity.
  11. Chemical reactions often have a reaction intermediate, which is like an in-between step that occurs before you can get to the final product. So, rather than going straight from A to B, you go from A to X to B. An intermediate step needs to occur before we go from starting to finishing. This is the same for establishing new patterns of behaviour. Ensure we have established intermediary milestones and celebrate and acknowledge these milestones. This will reinforce your path and continue you on to where you need to be…

Importantly, your habits are your actions, which define your life. They are your deeds that connect you to others and the world around you and we are often identified through our deeds in life. If we come full circle back to your inner state. It is imperative that we begin by asking this simple question… Am I living the life I truly wish to live…? And if not, what are you doing about eliciting the well-aligned circumstances in your life to create change? SS.

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