Can you believe it? It’s April already!! For some people lucky enough to experience spring weather, we’re enjoying delicious snow-cones, the park, and walking the dog in shorts!! For me, spring brought the realization that I have failed yet again at sticking to my New Years Resolutions.
Maybe you made a resolution to lose weight, get organized, actually use the calendar and planners you buy every year or spend more time with your kids. Needless to say, change is easier said than done. I want to let you in on an intellectual secret; making a change and keeping a resolution is actually pretty simple. You might think, “Yeah I know already. Making a new habit is all about sticking to it for 45 days or 90 days.”
In reality and according to research, habit change has nothing to do with a certain amount of time. Making a change is all about recognizing your current habits and changing your routines. Almost everything we do is done out of habit. If we want to make a change like eating healthier or exercising more we have to recognize our current habits and interrupt them with new routines. Habits work in a loop. We recognize a cue, we enter the routine and then we get our reward.
For example, you made a resolution to eat healthier. You’ve stocked your refrigerator full of fruit, but in the back of your pantry you now have leftover Easter and Valentine’s Day candy. Guess which one you reach for without even thinking. Hello!! The chocolate!! We eat it because it’s yummy and it makes us feel good! Yes we want to be healthy but we also want to be satisfied.
But what cues you to eat chocolate? It could be the time of day, a stressful experience, or that you’ve finished dinner. If we want to change a habit simply recognize the cue and then change your routine. Instead of eating half a candy bar after dinner, keep some frozen Greek yogurt in your house, make yourself a banana, peanut butter chocolate smoothie, or eat some strawberries lightly sprinkled with Splenda!! Same cue and same reward of feeling full and enjoying something sweet but you’ve changed your routine. Unfortunately if you fail to recognize your cues and plan ahead for how you will interrupt your routines you won’t consistently keep up with your new habit.
I’ve described a very in-depth concept in about 400 words so if you’d like more information about habit loops and changing cues & routines check out The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
You can make any change in your life that you want to. You don’t have to attack everything at once. Look around your life and attack something that’s going to make a difference to you. What’s going to give you a win and make you feel good about yourself? Change that one habit, pat yourself on the back and keep moving forward. It’s only the 4th month of the year!! You’ve got plenty of time to make a change just don’t waste it!! Life awaits!