In the last newsletter article, we looked at ‘Habits’ and how important the right habits are for forming our identities. Creating new habits has to be an intentional process and it generally takes 21 to 30 days for the new behaviour to be assimilated into daily life and routines.
James Clear has the “Recipe for Sustained Success.”
Changing your beliefs isn’t nearly as hard as you might think. There are two steps.
1. Decide the type of person you want to be.
2. Prove it to yourself with small wins.
Clear offers his three steps of habit loop – reminder, routine, reward. For instance:
1. You walk by your local Starbucks just before you get to work. (Reminder)
2. You go inside and purchase a latte. (Routine – action)
3. You sip pleasurably in your office, get caffeinated, avoid the watery office coffee. (Reward)
You enjoy your treat, the reward is positive, you repeat it and it becomes a habit.
Best practices for habit cultivation:
“Habits are formed by the repetition of particular acts. They are strengthened by an increase in the number of repeated acts. Habits are also weakened and broken, and contrary habits are formed by the repetition of contrary acts.” – Mortimer J. Adler
Cultivating habits is not a mysterious process, but one that requires reinforcement through repetition. Change experts say goal setting is important because they set us in a mindful direction, but goals are not enough. After a goal is identified, we need to design a better system in order to improve our results.
Here are some tips for revamping habits:
1. Identify the habit you wish to form and think carefully on why you want it. This initial step is vital to sticking to your new habit because you are being conscious and deliberate about change.
2. Start with an incredibly small habit. Make it so easy you can’t say no. Willpower is like a muscle that gets stronger with use (e.g. instead of “I will never be late again”, I started with “I will show up 5 minutes early to my appointments this week.”) Small changes are easy to dismiss but compound over time.
3. Increase your habit in small ways. As you build up, break big habits into small, specific chunks.
4. When you slip, get back on track. Even top performers make mistakes, but they get back on track quickly – the trick is not to be perfect but to be persistent. Minor slip ups don’t change your overall habit.
5. Stick to a sustainable pace and be patient. Being patient with yourself is important. It is part of self-compassion which ultimately leads to better outcomes. If you find your pace of change too fast, readjust until you experience success again and keep going.
6. Positive feedback loop. Notice and celebrate small achievements. Positivity provides good reinforcement to continue your new habit.
Clear, James: Atomic Habits. Avery Press, 2018.
Whilst in isolation, I found some habits helpful that I put into action that I would like to share.
* Taking care of the body through exercise, healthy eating and good sleep routines is a crucial component to be in the right mindset for change.
* Find an accountability partner. A recent study looked at health behaviours among couples in the UK and found that one partner’s habits have a big influence on the other’s. Consider making a pact with your partner or find an accountability partner. To “be accountable,” all you need is a clear goal and a willingness to let others help you achieve it. My wife kept me accountable to walk every day. I downloaded an app, ‘Done’ which allowed me to record my days achieved and longest streak.
* Positive Mindset. Having a positive mindset can be learned. It will require mental programming (changing your thinking patterns). There are various ways to create a positive mind-set including using positive affirmations, visualisation, knowing that our Lord is an all loving and powerful creator who cares and loves us. If you aspire to make increased gratitude a new habit to boost your mood, find something good to say about the weather in the morning – and say it. Be grateful for a meal and enjoy a flower and a sunset.
* Enthusiasm is common. Commitment is rare! Approximately 54% of people who resolved to change their ways failed to make it stick longer than six months. Knowing what to do is not an issue, committing to it is the problem! Commitment, consistency and patience are what is required. Those are hardest skills I have had to learn when trying to improve when practicing on the piano. Don’t wear yourself out before you even get off the ground. Learning to practice consistently doesn’t have to be half as hard as we make it on ourselves.
I do hope that the newsletter articles on forming habits are helpful for you and your family and that you will put some of these habits into practice.
Deputy Principal – High School