Creating Habits That Stick

There’s been a lot of change in my life over the last few months…

Living situation, location, career, friends, relationships, health, training… in fact, I’ve created change in almost every area of my life over the past 12 months.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve started to feel like the water I’m treading is slowly getting deeper and deeper and my feet are slowly getting further from the ground.

I have to give myself credit – objectively, I am doing well. I am taking everything in my stride and trying to be as patient as possible with learning new skills, but there have been a number of days of late, where I’m aware of that familiar sense of feeling ‘out of control’.

I’m well practised with how it goes, having spent a lot of my 20’s in a place of overwhelm and anxiety, but over the years, I’ve also learned to become aware of it quicker and quicker, before it gets to the ‘place of no return’.

There are a few red flags for me, that when I start to see these things happening, I know it’s time to stop and slow down, and consider what I need (or don’t need).

They’re different for everyone, but for me, I start to notice that everything begins to feel urgent, or already overdue…

I feel like I never have enough time for everything that needs to be done…

My chest feels tight and my breathing gets shallow through most of the day…

My self-care becomes lax… I get lazy with preparing the food I want to eat, I stop planning my training and kind of just hope that it will work out when I feel like it…

I fall out of contact with my friends because it feels too difficult…

The other thing I have recently started to notice is that even before that creeping feeling of overwhelm starts to set in, my ‘well-being habits’ fall by the wayside.

Over the years, I’ve had many ‘coping’ mechanisms. Some positive and some not so positive… Although in saying that, even the not-so-positive ones serve a purpose. Perhaps an article for another time…

What I want to look at here, however, is how the mechanisms, or daily habits that we have, really are at a core level, the most important things in our lives.

  • The things that have us win…
  • That has us connect…
  • Succeed…
  • Survive…
  • Thrive…

Here’s what I mean…

I dare suggest that one habit most of us have mastered in our adult lives is brushing our teeth. It’s not something, hopefully, that we need to think about. We’ve spent so many years practising this habit, day in and day out, that it’s become second nature.

We know that if we want good dental hygiene, to prevent cavities, ensure healthy gums etc, then we have to brush our teeth. We do it at least twice a day and it’s a positive habit we don’t even think about.

Really, at the core of it, it’s the habits that we have created for ourselves, that determine what our life looks like…

However, often we seem to get this around the wrong way and think that it’s the things that we do sometimes, that are going to impact our lives…

Take any goal… Let’s say “to be healthier”. This is a bit abstract, but to be honest – I probably hear it 9 times out of 10, from the new clients I take on in both personal training and health coaching.

What does this actually mean?

We all kind of know what we should be doing, right? But for the things that we want in our lives, it actually takes creating daily habits that become so ingrained, we don’t even think about them anymore. This is what creates a lifestyle.

So how do we actually create, implement and commit to positive habits?

So… To be healthier…

One may:

  • Eat breakfast every day…
  • Drink 2 litres of water a day…
  • Move their body every day for at least 30 minutes…
  • Get at least 7 hours sleep a night…
  • Consume at least 5 serves of vegetables…
  • Include protein with every meal…

I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

For anything we want in life, it’s the habits that we have, on a DAILY basis, that gives the outcome.

For someone who wants to be healthier, if they were to eat chocolate once a week, that’s not likely to impact their overall goal… however, if they were to eat chocolate every single day, it’s going to make achieving it more difficult.

The same goes for positive habits…

Exercising once a week will make it very difficult to become healthier, however, 30 minutes every single day, will create the kind of life you want.

The list above may resemble your New Year’s Resolution list…

How has it gone so far?

If well, that’s great!

If not… here’s what I would suggest…

The thing with change, particularly including and taking on new positive habits, is that it takes time…

We can’t expect to start something new and have it feel comfortable right away…

It will definitely feel strange!

Unfamiliar…

If you’ve never practised meditation before, it’s going to feel strange. Really damn strange!

The other thing is, without getting too technical, when we start doing something new, our brain gets confused. As humans, we’re wired to recognise patterns. This is the reason it’s so difficult to break the habits we don’t want. We can feel really motivated for a while, but essentially, the brain is comfortable with patterns and will naturally want to bring you back to what it knows… like eating chocolate every day. There’s an element of sugar craving, but there’s an even bigger element of habit and pattern.

So any new habit is going to feel strange in the beginning. It’s unfamiliar and the brain doesn’t like change.

These are a few things that I’ve come to learn over time…

Get really clear on what you want to introduce

It needs to be specific – eg, I will walk every morning at 6am for 20 minutes

Simply wanting to ‘be more active’, isn’t going to cut it – what does that mean?

Introduce one new habit at a time

Give yourself at least 21 consistent days for a new habit

The more new things you have to try and remember and practice, the harder it will be

Be consistent.

Do it every single day. Whether you feel like it or not. Our emotions are really clever at getting in the way and our head will quickly talk us out of things and back into the things that are familiar. If you’re clear that this new habit is positive and contributing to something that is important and of value in your life, the key is consistency.

Be gentle with yourself.

Acknowledge every single win, no matter how small, and don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right every single day. You are introducing something new and you need time to integrate. Your brain needs to time grow familiar and you need to find a place for where this new habit fits best in your life.

When a baby learns to walk, it doesn’t fall over once and says, ‘well fuck that’… I’m no good at walking so I’ll just give up…

Give yourself a break!

Know that you’re starting something new and that it will take practice. Know that it’s the small pieces, every day, that will get you to where you want to go.

For me…

It’s taken me a number of months (even years in some cases) to slowly integrate the positive habits that give me peace of mind, have me feel grounded, on top of things and ultimately out of that state of overwhelm.

The two habits that have had the biggest impact on this stage of my life are meditation, even if only for 5 minutes a day, and writing. I journal gratitude and actively ‘write my reality’ into existence every single day.

I have to admit, I have been inconsistent with both of these habits over the past few weeks, so it’s really no surprise to me that I’ve been noticing those familiar old feelings creep back in.

So you as my witness, I’m being gentle with myself, acknowledging my awareness and small wins, and committing to caring for myself in the ways that I know works for me.

What are the habits that you want to introduce into your life?

Be gentle, have patience and watch your whole world transform.


Liora Levin
0418 144 420
wellwithliora@gmail.com
Nutritionist (BHSc.) | Personal Trainer (CPT)

If you would like to book a Training Session with Liora, you can contact her directly on the above information or through the contact page of the website.

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