By Sue Seel, M.S. Certified Coach
From healthy eating to establishing good exercise habits to practicing a skill we want to perfect, most of us have a list of behaviors we’d like to begin or end.
What is a habit? ‘A routine behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously.’ “Neuroscientists have traced our habit-making behavior to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia…… decisions, though, are made in a part of the brain called the prefrontal cortex. As soon as a behavior becomes automatic, the decision-making part of your brain goes into a sleep mode of sorts. Parallel parking, brushing your teeth and every other habit-forming activity follow the same neurological patterns.”
Our parents/teachers / grandparents / coaches help us develop habits of discipline when we are young. What routine activities have you developed?
Can you think of a habit you have tried to stop or begin and have followed these steps? I haven’t been able to run for a year but want to train for a triathlon so joined the Couch to 5 K at MTM to get me motivated! Working out with others helps me with my ‘action’ phase.
Practical steps for change
Set a goal
• One of my primary jobs as a coach is to help my clients establish goals that are meaningful to them then holding them accountable to act on new intentions around these goals, helping them move to the Action and Maintenance stage.
Remove existing cues for habits you want to change/ add new ones
• for example, if you want to establish better eating habits, remove the sugar snacks from your home.
If the rest of your family rebels (!!) then limit the amounts you have in the house
• flossing your teeth – always have the floss with the toothbrush and toothpaste
Identify your limiting beliefs or what will hold you back
• what has the strongest negative impact on your goal?
• what have you struggled with the most when you have tried to reach this goal?
• what activities keep you from reaching this goal or establishing a new habit?
What new, supportive beliefs can you establish?
• what can you do instead of what you did before?
• what new activities would give me the most momentum for changing a habit?
• who can I ask to help me achieve this goal?
• how badly do I want this new habit?
Repetition is the key
• First, some habits are harder to establish than others. For ex., drinking a glass of water vs. doing 50 sit-ups a day… The research use to say 21 days. Now some say 66 days. Some say between 15 and 254 days!!!
• Second, if you get derailed don’t get discouraged but the first days seem to make the biggest difference.
• I personally find that this is the most effective way to establish a new habit.
• Choose a friend or colleague who wants to introduce the same habit or hire a life coach to help you get to where you want to be sooner than you would on your own.
Focus on reaching just the next stage
• Don’t bite off more than you can chew – baby steps
Duhigg, Charles. “The Power of Habit” – What we do in Life and Business
Sue Seel, M.S. Certified Coach
Personal and Professional Potential
Copyright by Sue Seel/ Certified Coach
All rights reserved/No duplication without written permission
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