3 Tips for Habit Change: break those nasty habits once and for all! (part 2 of 3)

As you’ve likely experienced, dropping “bad” habits and establishing “good” ones can be a tough task, but there are ways to make it easier.

The following 3 tips will help you say goodbye to hoping and wishing, and repeating old patterns that only keep you stuck. 

In case you missed it, in the last post, I covered:

1- Find the purpose/function of your “bad” habit.
2- Find a replacement habit that meets the underlying need.
3- Reduce your reliance on willpower.

[read Part 1 here]


Today, we’ll focus on 3 more tips for lasting habit change…

1- Reward your behavior.

What makes a habit stick is being rewarded for it – IMMEDIATELY.

When we eat sweets, we’re immediately rewarded with delicious flavors and an orchestra of dopamine hits that make us feel great (until we feel horrible, sick, lethargic or bloated).

When we drink alcohol, we’re rewarded pretty quickly with less social inhibition and increased feelings of relaxation, humor and fun (until we have that “one more” that was NOT a good idea).

When we go to bed late, we’re immediately rewarded with “me-time”, “social time”, “reading time”, “work time/productivity”, and so forth (and then we pay for it when the alarm goes off next morning and we feel we’ve been hit by a Mack truck).

I could go on, but you know the drill… choose your vice, and you’ll notice that despite the backfires and pain, you keep doing it.

That’s how powerful immediate rewards are.

In addition, what’s important to note is that while “bad” habits give us immediate rewards, “good habits” give us long term rewards. You’d think this would be enough, right? But sadly, no.

Our reptilian brain has helped us survive since the very beginning, and it’s got strong wiring. It’s also where our habits are stored, and it only cares about NOW. Not later. This means that rewards need to happen pretty quick to make them enticing and shift habits.

If you’re wanting to lose weight, non-food rewards are very helpful. Either way, rewards are endless from intangible to concrete (eg. the reward of the “win”; sending a pic to your accountability buddy or coach; new pair of lulu’s; hot boots; concert, etc). Just know that the more immediate the better.

  • Ask yourself: for your given goal, what reward would be helpful?

 
2- Support a good night’s sleep. 

The more rested we are, the more we operate from our logical, reasoning, mindfulness brain center: the prefrontal cortex.

Remember, our reptilian brain is responsible for our automated systems (eg. breathing, heart function, and habits to name a few) and is also responsible survival. Survival is NOW, present moment, no flying f*cks to the future – everything is urgent.

Meanwhile, our pre-frontal cortex is our more evolved brain, and is mindful and responsible for long-term, values-based, goal-friendly choices.

When we’re connected to this part of our brain, it’s no problem to choose the carrot sticks and hummus over the bag of Miss Vicky’s.

Read more on the power of sleep and how to get it here.

  • Ask yourself: what pre-bed rituals help you get the best sleep?


3- Prime your day.

Tony Robbins introduced me to this one, and it’s been a powerful habit I’ve been working on for over a year now. This practice, absolutely, makes a difference in my mood, emotional state, productivity, and mindfulness-based actions.

If you drag yourself through a morning routine that feels more like a grind than an inspired greeting, “bad” habits are extremely tempting. From this state, the fancy morning coffee and funky looking pastry can look pretty darn enticing.

Do it right (for you), and priming your day is an ultimate game-changer. 

It connects you to your higher brain power, so you start the day feeling energized, stronger, more empowered, and ready to take on whatever your day has in store.

There are many ways to do this, however, there are some easy, tried, tested and true ones that stand out. If you’re up for elevating your state, calling forth your Higher Self and priming your day, Robbins shares his specific 10 minute ritual here.

  • Ask yourself: given what I’m ready, able, and willing to do, what morning ritual would elevate my state the best?