What is a Habit?
Dictionary Definition: A recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition
Throughout the years, I’ve established some really good habits that enhance my life, but as much as I hate to admit it, there are a few (well probably quite a lot) bad habits, that have slipped into my life too and they definitely aren’t ‘life enhancers’!
As some of you will know, last year, a combination of poor work eating and exercise habits, resulted in me being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Yes, the poor habits I’d established were literally destroying my health and it was definitely time to start changing those habits.
Throughout 2016, I made a lot of changes, including changing my eating habits and developing a new healthier eating habit, which enabled me to put my Diabetes into remission, which was great but for some reason, although I didn’t achieve the same level of success when trying to embed a new exercise regime into my life. I’d start with great enthusiasm but fairly quickly fell back to my old habit i.e. NON EXISTENT EXERCISE!
I became brilliant at keeping up the habit of making lots of excuses as to why I should retain my bad habits, rather than looking for reasons to form new habits
Inspiration To Try A New Habit Changing System – The 90 Day Challenge!
A surprising and inspiring bonus was delivered to me by Paul O’Mahony, when I attended his Online Business Mastery Training a couple of weeks ago. Paul talked about establishing positive life habits and described his own journey to finally achieving success in relation to his fitness habit. He followed some of the principles contained in a research study that was undertaken back in 2009 at the University College of London, where the researcher’s established that to change a habit takes an average of 66 days (range between 18 – 290 days depending on the person and the habit).
The research highlighted that a habit is formed when the ‘action’ becomes unconscious and moves from being controlled in the conscious part of the brain and into the subconscious part of the brain. It also showed that the transfer from conscious to subconscious brain activity was delayed if there was any break in the daily activity by the participant.
Paul used what he’d learned from the research to establish a new training regime:
- He challenged himself to undertake some form of exercise EVERY Day – no exception.
- He didn’t set a time limit for the training session but determined to ensure he completed the training daily without fail.
- To keep himself on track, he set himself a rule that if for any reason, he failed to train in some form or another, he’d reset the calendar back to Day 1 (I suspect he didn’t do that very often)
Hearing about the research and Paul’s success with his 90 day challenge gave me my Lightbulb Moment!
I’d wondered previously why it had been easy for me to change my eating habit and yet I’d not been successful in changing my exercise habit. Now I knew why!!
When I’d originally started out on my new healthy eating habit, I was absolutely religious about it. I was determined to follow the low carb principles and for the first few months, I never deviated. Every day without fail, I followed the new regime. At first I had to battle my automatic habit of picking higher carbohydrate foods and then a couple of months into the new regime, it dawned on me that I was no longer having the conscious debate with myself about what I should be eating. My healthy eating habit had been embedded and I now automatically opted for the healthy low carb options without really being aware of it.
Hearing Paul’s journey, I recognised that the difference between my eating and exercise habits was that I followed the eating plan EVERY DAY WITHOUT FAIL whereas with the exercise plan, I had BUILT IN REST DAYS. I’d plan to exercise 3 times per week, not every day! One rest day often led to another.. and another excuse why I’d ‘start again tomorrow’!!
I’m inspired to set myself a new Habit Changing 90 Day Challenge:
To undertake some form of exercise EVERY DAY for 90 consecutive days, in order to embed a new fitness habit as part of my automatic daily routine for life.
3 Steps to my 90 day challenge:
- Plan ahead
- Every evening I schedule time into my diary, to complete a minimum of 5 minutes exercise EVERY day. (No matter how busy my day is, there is NO REASON why I wouldn’t be able to fit in at least 5 minutes..)
- If I miss 1 day, regardless of the reason, I’ll re-set the 90 day calendar back to Day 1 and start again. (That’s not going to happen!!!)
- I use Outlook Calendar and have set up a daily reminder email prompt, to remind me every day that I have to get up off my larger than it should be posterior and exercise!!
- Variety being the spice of life
- I’ll undertake a range of exercises including cycling, hoola hooping, swimming and I may even throw in some facial yoga exercises to lift my double chin!! This means that my age or ability isn’t an excuse for doing nothing!
- Record daily progress
- Use my new Brilliance Within Changing Habits Challenge Card to record what exercise I’ve completed each day and what I plan to do the next day.
- Take daily photo’s of the exercise undertaken and compile into a weekly photo collage as a reminder of what is possible.
So that’s my new HABIT FORMING 90 Day CHALLENGE up and running!
Do you have any ‘bad habits’ you want to change and if so, what would you prefer to do as an alternative? (If you haven’t got ANY Bad Habits or new habits you’d like to form, WOW I’m impressed!!)
If, like me, you’ve got some new improved habits you’d like to establish, why not join me in setting yourself a 90 day Changing Habit Challenge?
It can be any habit, it doesn’t have to be fitness, for example:
- Improved financial habits
- Establish a daily meditation habit
- Healthy Eating
Have you tried to change a habit previously and then fallen off the treadmill and somehow life got in the way?
If so, then this challenge will really help. The key is in the consistency of doing something no matter how small, EVERY DAY WITHOUT FAIL, as this is what embeds the ‘habit’ as part of your normal daily life routine.
Tip: If Meditation is something you’d like to start ‘habit forming’, check out some of the great meditations at Bella’s Thoughtsnlife blog: https://thoughtsnlifeblog.com/meditations/
If you are interested in forming some new habits, leave me a comment, subscribe to my blog and you’ll gain access to some great tools and lots of support, including:
- Printable download of the Brilliance Within 90 Day Habit Changing Challenge record sheet
- Access to the Brilliance Within Changing Habits Facebook Community Group for daily support
- Coaching tips, motivation and encouragement
- Help to keep us on track, until our new habit becomes part of our everyday routine
If you’re tempted but you’d like to learn more about changing habits, here’s some further information and a link to a summary of the research study…
University College of London research study summary of the research undertaken by Phillippa Lally: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0908/09080401
If you’ve ever learned to drive a car, do you remember that when you first started learning and you had to consciously think about everything you did e.g. changing gear, pressing the clutch, brake pedal etc.? At some point however, you stopped having to consciously think about what you were doing and your actions became unconscious and you became unaware of your actions.
Have you ever driven from A to B and then realised you were completely unconscious of the actual journey?
- That’s because you no longer had to think about when to press the pedals or change gear because you were now doing these things automatically and your subconscious brain was in control.
Many of us continue to retain old habits, which we know aren’t serving our best interest and yet we repeat the actions and behaviour of the ‘bad habit’, even though we know we shouldn’t and in other cases, we may simply not have formed a habit that would be beneficial to us. It’s important to identify habits you’ve developed that aren’t serving the purpose of improving your life and then clarify what habits you could develop instead.
- The scientific study published in 2009 by Phillippa Lally, evidenced that contrary to popular view, that it takes 21 days to change a habit, in reality, it can take anywhere from as little as 18 days and up to 254 days to stop repeating old behaviours and form a new habit.
- Of the 96 volunteers who participated in the study, it was established that the average number of days to develop the ‘automatic behaviour’ after repeating the new activity every day, was 66 days.
When I attended Paul O’Mahony’s Online Business Mastery Training last week, Paul defined a habit as:
“something you do and stop congratulating yourself for doing it!”
I can very much relate to Paul’s definition. I recognise that when I start doing something new, I get to the end of the day and review my progress and give myself a pat on the back when I feel I’ve achieved success….. until life gets in the way and then the new behaviour/action quickly falls by the wayside. This was the case for my plans to improve my level of fitness last year and yet I was successful in forming a much better ‘healthy eating’ habit.
Why could I do it for one and not the other?
- We like to remain in our ‘comfort zone’ even when it’s not comfortable at all. Maybe I was trying to change too much all at once instead of focussing on one change at a time or maybe over the years, the start/stop exercise regime I’ve adopted had created a deep routed belief that I couldn’t change….
When Paul O’Mahony described his personal journey to form an improved fitness habit and his absolute commitment and determination to undertake some form of exercise every day for 90 days, his philosophy resonated with me. He’d recognised that working out for a couple of days and then taking a day off from exercise to recover as suggested by his personal trainers, meant he was never reaching the point that the exercise was automatically part of his life. His ‘day off’ was breaking the consistency and reducing his ability to establish a new automatic pattern of behaviour.
I’ve incorporated these aspects of the study into the 90 Day Brilliance Within Challenge:
- Take new habit action EVERY DAY – No Break
- Keep focussed through commitment to record and share the actions taken
- Build in reminders and support systems, to keep us on track
There really are no excuses for not changing habits that are detrimental to our lives!
I’m starting with my level of fitness and then I’ll be starting my next Habit Changing Challenge!! What about you?
If you’re interested in joining the Brilliance Within 90 Day Habit Changing Community, leave me a comment below and insert your name and email in the subscription box. It doesn’t matter when you join, we’ll set up your 90 days from your personal start date.
Thanks for the inspiration Paul!!