Have you ever wanted to change a habit? How about create a new habit? I know there are things I need to change to make my life fuller, richer and longer! Having had cancer kind of brings this awareness to the forefront each and every day.
I look at the foods I eat. I am making much healthier choices now. But how about those days when we all feel like munching down on a cookie or having a regular soda cause we are on the run? A habit….new or old…takes a commitment. So I set out on the search for how you really change a habit. The results were overwhelming but it seemed to me to narrow down to three things. I identified those three things as The Trigger, the Reward and the Routine.
After I narrowed it down to those items, and we all have triggers. Those are the little cues that once we become aware of, we can start to control our response to it!
I just finished reading a book by Charles Duhigg “The Power of Habit and Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business”. I was reading it for my management course, it was suggested reading. He calls the trigger a cue. I prefer to think of cues in relationship to billiards! So I am using trigger instead. Because for food …its a trigger.
Since I already know what some of my bad habits are, I wanted to figure out how to create good habits. And mine is about ‘exercise’ and being active. For me, that right now is the hardest thing to motivate myself to do. I have lots of time, so why don’t I do it. I have been in recovery mode for some time. Its now time for action.
If we have our three parts, we can break them down. Duhigg’s book says for an example; and I like this one cause it is not about eating….what is the feeling that you have right before you crack your knuckles. And alot of us can relate to that. I have a habit of cracking my back, right before going to sleep. I can’t go to sleep without doing it. It’s been a night mare with my frozen shoulder because that is the shoulder that I use to pop. I have since learned to pop the other one. What’s up with that? Why do I do it?
Popping joints gives you stress relief. In some weird way, but is it positive or negative? Do we even care? Not at the time! Next we identify the reward the behavior gives us. If we walk to the receptionist desk, and I use to do this at the law firm I worked at, and pick up a piece of candy from the ‘free’ bowl, we probably do this to just be social with the receptionist or whomever is out front. The poor receptionist doesn’t get her work done. One sure way to eliminate this distraction is to remove it!
In the class I took concerning Changing Habits and Eating Healthy, they taught us to change the routine. If you are cracking knuckles, rub your hands together. If you are grabbing candy cause it is there, move the bowl. Have other health snacks available. This might mean going to the lunch room instead of the reception area. Change your pattern.
The other thing I recommend, is to write it down. Write down something like the following:
When ____________, (feeling like going to reception for candy) I will _____________ ( go to the lunchroom and get my prepared snack because this activity provides me with _____________________(reward).
Its all a trick isn’t it? Changing that brain of ours to make a different choice. I am trying to contribute towards not getting cancer back again, therefore I chose another activity. I know this seems sort of silly, but over the long term it will change my behavior. If I don’t change my behavior, I will not be happy with the results.
If I want to see what could happen, all I have to do is look in the mirror. However, I have to remember that cancer isn’t all about every choice, sometimes it is the luck of the draw like my doctor said. But I want to make healthy choices as much as possible to eliminate rewards I don’t want! So I am going to try this.
If you try it, let me know how it works for you. I would be interested to know. Left right left right, one day at a time. Write it down and make baby steps towards your future! You deserve one!