Jan 5, 2020
Change your Perspective, Change your Habits
Ahhh New Year’s Resolutions. Many of us have set big goals to live life better this year. To feel better, to be more organized, to sleep more, eat more nourishing foods, be more patient (and on and on).
On January 1 you can feel the excitement...THIS year I’m going to make it stick. And then February rolls around and we find ourselves in the same old patterns as last year.
So, if you do want to change your habits, if you do want to change your outdated behavioral patterns what does work?
What I’ve learned through both personal experimentation and studying behavioral science over the past 20 years is:
- Willpower doesn’t work.
- All or nothing doesn’t work.
- Setting goals doesn’t work (at least not on it’s own).
- Doing the same and expecting a different outcome doesn’t work
Here are a few nuggets that I’d love to share with you. These small perspective shifts can change your habits for good:
There are only three things that will change your behavior in the long term :
- An epiphany
- Change your environment
- Take baby steps
After 20 years of researching human behavior, BJ Fogg, director of the Behavior Design Lab at Stanford, has come to the conclusion that an epiphany is very unlikely so shifting the focus to changing the environment and taking small steps towards a larger goal is what works to change our outdated habits and behaviors for good.
Can’t vs Won’t Mindset:
This is one of my favorites from Marie Forleo’s new book, Everything is Figuroutable. It’s an invitation to get really honest about what our priorities are. We all come up with excuses for why we choose to behave in certain ways or why we can’t make certain changes that we have committed to.
“If we replace can’t with won’t, what we get is usually something much more honest. We don’t really want to. It’s not a high enough priority. Facing that fact doesn’t make us lazy or bad or unambitious. It makes us honest. And from that place, we can take full responsibility for how we’re spending our precious resources of time and effort and attention….Replacing can’t with won’t puts you back in the position of power so you’re no longer the victim of your circumstances. When you remove those excuses, you empower yourself to make new choices.” Marie Forleo
Here’s the truth. When you do an assessment of your day remind yourself that your actions are your priorities. So, instead of saying I can’t make my own meals at home because I don’t have enough time, consider changing your language to I won’t make my own meals at home because I choose to prioritize other things in my life first. This is honest. Not judgmental, just honest. And so, if working out or meditating or making your own meals at home are behaviors you would like to cultivate look at your day and consider where time is being wasted. Screen time, anyone?
Not having enough time and/or money is real. Once you’ve considered your priorities you can look honestly at what you want to change. If you want to add meditation to your morning ritual (or anywhere in your day) instead of saying your don’t have 20 minutes to meditate and stopping there invite yourself to say ‘Yes, I don’t have 20 minutes to meditate...and I could carve out 2 minutes before the kids wake up to sit in silence. Start there.
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits believes in the idea that small, incremental changes over time can have a compound effect. Choosing not to move your body one day won’t make a huge impact on your overall health and wellness, but after a year, or a decade? This will massively impact your health and wellness over time. Every choice we make, every small action is casting a vote for the person we want to be.
Focus on systems rather than goals.
Although goals provide clarity and a sense of direction, they are not enough to make real behavior change. According to James Clear, your system is your collection of habits that naturally lead to whatever the outcome is in your life right now. So, if you are tired, overwhelmed, overscheduled...look at your collection of daily habits and where you can make some small 1% shifts rather than simply setting a goal.
“Your audacious life goals are fabulous. We’re proud of you for having them. But it’s possible that those goals are designed to distract your from the thing that’s really frightening you--the shift in daily habits that would mean a reinvention of how your see yourself.” Seth Godin
“Your current behaviors are simply a reflection of your current identity. What you do now is a reflection of the type of person that you believe that you are (either consciously or subconsciously). To change your behavior for good, you need to start believing new things about yourself” James Clear.
Growth Mindset v. Fixed Mindset:
This is based on the research of Carol Dweck. It’s the idea that when we believe that it’s possible to change and/or improve at any task or behavior we are more likely to succeed. When we have a fixed idea of who we are or what we are good/bad at then it will be more difficult to change our behaviors and our lives.
Perhaps some of these mindset shifts, these shifts in your perspective will help support your growth and evolution towards experiencing more ease, more joy and more of what you want to see in your life this year.
Want to learn more? This is what we do in Align & Awaken! Together we use this methodology to create a dinacharya, daily habits that are aligned with what our bodies need to thrive according to Ayurveda. Apply here.
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