You have heard ‘you are what you eat’, well I believe and want to explore with you how we become our habits.
Habits often recall to us things like smoking, drinking and so forth, they often have a negative connotation. The use of habits in the context of this blog is actions that we perform on a daily or very regular basis. While I am on a roll with sayings, I am sure you will also have heard of the common belief that if you do anything for 21 days or more it becomes a habit. This is frequently used as an approach to ‘anti-habits’, i.e. stopping smoking, drinking, etc.
What I want to explore with you is the power of habits if they are applied to our lives in a positive way leading toward even more positive outcomes. Adding structure to life (I can hear your eyes rolling!) is very freeing. It is something that I felt for years did not work for me, not my cup of tea thanks. It is not my personality type to have a great deal of structure in life, it gets boring, I like to mix it up, I am more of an abstract human (now I can hear you laughing). You know what that has done for me over the years, I have had a lot of fun, but I have lacked direction, focus and clarity. If I look back at what I wanted to achieve in my 20s, my goals in my 30s how many of them did I achieve and how many did I just dream about? I would say the ratio there would be somewhere in the vicinity of 90:10 in favour of the dreams.
In recent life I have managed to find it within myself to try adding some structure. Now, I did not try and take on a massive mission, Rome was not built in a day (I really am on fire with these sayings today!). I started small; I went for a walk. I managed to go for a walk the following day, that has now turned into well over 100 days of daily walks. Every day I now go for a two-hour walk, which now includes 50 press ups, various audio books or podcasts and as of tomorrow some weight training. If I had aimed at that from day one all would have come to a complete full stop at the conclusion of that first day.
I was recently introduced to a model by a very impressive man, Chris Laping who I encourage you to check out. Chris has a wonderful book called ‘People Before Things’ and runs a powerful coaching business. The model that Chris introduced me to really resonated with me and I want to share it with you now.
Frequency(F) - Duration(D) - Intensity(I)
Simple huh. Here comes the really cool bit, the power of this model.
Firstly we start with an activity that you are passionate about. If you don’t enjoy the activity it is very likely that you will not continue on your new habit. You then commit yourself to doing it every day. Start small, you can build up in time. I was concerned about losing productive time so later introduced what Chris calls ‘habit stacking’. This allowed me to then combine exercise and learning habits which I did through the audio books and podcasts. These healthy habits can be efficient too.
Once we have the regularity going for 30 days, then you can look at increasing the duration. After another 30 days you can increase the intensity. I did this by introducing the press ups and the weight training. Now, believe me if you focus on the duration or intensity from day one it will put you off. Start with just the activity that you enjoy and frequency, don’t set yourself up for failure by making it too big, be kind to yourself, you can always ramp it up later.
To get you started with some inspiration, it could be cycle 5 kms every day, walk 10,000 steps, 30 minutes of journaling every day, 15 minutes of quiet time or meditation, you get the idea. We all have different availability of time; we all have different interests and passions. This is deeply personal, and the purpose of this journey is for you, so own it. Pretty empowering stuff, huh!
By doing this, when you get to the 60 days you will have inadvertently achieved an incredible goal, something to be really proud of. The best thing, once you start adding healthy habits to your life, it is easier to add more. You will find yourself actively seeking them out.
So go forth and establish healthy habits, you have the power in your hands, You have got this and you know deep down that you have. So do it!