• Rebecca Laidlaw

Habits, habits, habits...

What does it take to build a habit? There are a ridiculous amount of studies telling you exactly how long it will take and all of the best habits to have and if I'm honest it's a minefield. This is what I've found that works for me: in forming new habits there are two tools I use and this blog is all about sharing them with you.

Trick 1

Know how a habit is formed. First, there is a cue, second the action, and third a reward. Some of us can't develop the habit because we aren't aware that the cue is even a thing or what it is. Here's an example to explain.

Say I wanted to start running (which if you know me is most unlikely because I share the same running technique as Phoebe from Friends) my cue is to put my trainers in front of my door they serve as a reminder. This reminder is my cue and as if by magic I then end up putting them on and going outside. This is where the action kicks in and I start running. Last but not least I return home to the reward of having moved my body and then in true Rebecca fashion I celebrate by eating.

So if there is a habit you want to create you need a solid cue to get you going and an extra special reward.

Trick 2

Sometimes there are habits I really just don't want to start (like a cheeky health plan that cuts down on the amount of peanut butter I consume - this makes for an incredibly unhappy Rebecca) but I know they would be good for me. In this case, I know that I have created a negative neuro-association in building this habit. This means my brain doesn't want to do it and it won't do it because there is so much pain, anxiety, and/or stress attached to it. Therefore, the habit goes through a process of reframing. I write three lists. One entitled "What if I don't change" another "The benefits of change" and finally "Proof that I can change". I create more pain around not doing the habit and see all the positives instead.

Those are my habit hacks and here's a bonus for free, habits are all about consistent action. I get up at 5 am every day. I am not saying that to brag. Even on a Sunday, my morning routine stays the same. Why? I mean they say even God took a day off but the Monday morning after the Sunday night before used to be horrific for me. Constantly having to re-start a habit. Every. Single. Week. No wonder everyone seems to hate Mondays! There was no sense in that for me. What I did was ensure that on the weekends I take extra time to nap at some point in the afternoon or give my brain a rest through meditation if I was tired. Both of which by the way I used to claim I couldn't do so if you are sitting there thinking that - there's hope for you yet my friend. What I'm saying is habits aren't easy to create and sometimes even if we know they are good for us we don't do it. Instead of asking why please try the techniques above.

In closing, this is an important lockdown message. Be careful about creating habits in lockdown. Make sure they fit into your old schedule because if by some miracle we go back to how the world used to be you don't want to have to start this process all over again. Make your habits work for you, not against you. Good luck!

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