How often have you tried to start something new? Habits, whether good or bad are hard! Hard to start, hard to quit. They feel big, overwhelming and honestly, sometimes quite pointless, or at least that is the half truth we’ve all whispered to ourselves.
I have one vice in life. It’s not the worst habit, but of all the ways I religiously take care of myself and consider each thing I put in my mouth and its full nutrient content, my Diet Coke habit seems to undo all the good. I have tried more times than I can count, but in defeat I mutter, “What does it matter anyways, it’s the one thing that makes me happy. I deserve to be happy.”
I’m going to go out on a limb here and blame my brain for my continual failure to break this habit. It’s true, it’s not me. I would willingly abandon my Diet Coke habit but my brain has already formed a connection, a Diet Coke path to happiness. Science tells us that the neurons in our brain, likely at the basal ganglia, fire off at the beginning of a behavior and at the end. With each firing a pathway is created and you are well on your way to a habit, or even an addiction. Your brain does this to free up space to handle all the daily surprises we encounter. I guess you could say you are working smarter, not harder. That is great, if the habit is good for us, not so great if the habit is harmful to us or others. This pathway, each time we engage in a behavior becomes engrained in us and hence, difficult to get out of the habit ruts.
Have you heard of micro habits? They are the tiny changes we make each day. With consistency, and over time, these little things add up to big changes. It’s like compounding interest for our habits. If you want to author a book, write a paragraph a day. If you want to stop spending your money frivolously, check your bank account every day. When you see the money being spent in meaningless ways, you create mindfulness and a commitment to try harder tomorrow. It’s the act of checking the account that leverages the goal; a micro habit.
What can you do each day, to create bigger changes in your life? For starters, examine your sphere of influence. Are there people in your circle who create undo tension, and anxiety for you? What habits are established because of the people and things around you? How can you make changes to positively impact your life?
When you feel inspired to do something…do it as soon as the feeling hits. Inspiration is your brain’s way of changing things for you or for those around you. Don’t lag behind when feeling inspired.
Acknowledge the patterns in your life. Switch up the patterns that lead to bad habits, not in big, overwhelming ways, but in the little things. If your pattern is to hit the snooze button every morning. The moment you feel the pattern to do it again, don’t. Peel the covers off and put your feet on the ground. One day, one micro habit and before long, a new pathway of neurons will be discovered.
Give it a shot. Let us know what micro habits you started that propelled you in great and amazing ways!