Our small daily habits add up to our success or failure in areas of life. Understanding and mastering our habits (the big ones and the small ones) is a key secret of success.
There are truths I’ve come to realize about habits, whether they are considered good or bad habits, and whether people are trying to start new habits or shed undesirable ones.
If you’re looking to make change in your life, these six truths are sure to help.
1. BABY STEPS ADD UP When trying to change a habit, the cold turkey approach is most often a recipe for frustration. I find that little itty-bitty incremental shifts in behaviors is usually a far better way to ensure long-term change.
For example, if you want to incorporate more exercise into your life, you don’t need to say, “I’m going to join a gym and go for an hour every morning before work.” Instead start easily, such as resolving to walk around the block every evening and doing 5 sit-ups. Baby steps!
2. BUILDING ON ACHIEVEMENTS CREATES MOMENTUM Once you start changing a habit with baby steps, you can build on that success. That walk around the block becomes too short, so you extend it to the next block. You find you don’t stop at 5 sit-ups, you keep going and add a couple more.
It’s all about momentum; an object in motion tends to stay in motion, both literally and figuratively. Once change is kicked into gear, more change happens!
3. AVOIDING TRIGGERS IS CRITICAL
Actions often happen as reactions to an event, situation, or other stimuli; habits are often prompted by an outside trigger. Recognizing what these triggers are can go a long way towards changing your behavior.
For example, want to stop gossiping? Maybe skip that coffee date that seems to revolve around who’s doing what in the neighborhood.
Want to stop snacking at night while you watch TV? Maybe read a book in a different room instead of turning on that sitcom. (I know, I know, easier said than done!)
4. BE MINDFUL AND AWARE Do you reach for the sugar packets every time you have a latte, without even considering going without? Be aware of your actions and realize that you do have the choice to skip the sugar.
As you go through your day cognizant of what you are doing and the choices you have, you’ll likely be surprised at how much you do on a daily basis goes unnoticed because it’s second nature.
5. BELIEVE IN YOUR CALLING Know that as you are living out your calling, through the power of Jesus, you are capable of achieving whatever it is you are called to do. You can conquer those bad habits, and you can adopt those good ones. But the entire house of cards can fall down if you don’t start with a solid foundation of confidence in your God-given ability to do so.
6. EMBRACE (LITTLE) FAILURES What? Failure? Include it? Yes. If you aren’t failing now and again, then you aren’t challenging yourself. The person who never risks anything obviously isn’t going to fail, because they are playing it safe. Failure is just a stepping stone on the way to success!
Real change can’t happen if you don’t push yourself, and pushing yourself means potential failure on occasion. Fight the urge to be a perfectionist and allow the road to be a little bumpy on the way to your destination.
Alli Worthington is the author of Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy, speaker, blogger, and the Executive Director of Propel Women. Alli has helped individuals, small business owners and Fortune 500 companies be more successful. She lives outside Nashville with her husband, Mark, and their five sons. You can connect with Alli at AlliWorthington.com. This blog was posted on Propel Women in June, 2017.
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