I was doing a final read through of my soon to be released book (4 weeks-in fact) and realized I haven’t been practicing everything I’ve preached. Maybe that’s why cleaning our inner house is a continual process. This is the scripture that came to mind:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do, but what I hate I do (Rom. 7:15 TNIV).
Maybe this is why habits are so hard to break and build. We all have habits, both good and bad. Exercise is one of my good habits, and chocolate is one of my bad ones. A habit is a usual state, either acquired or is natural, and both good and bad habits require a mindset. In other words, whether conscious or subconscious, the mind has been set to see and act in a certain way. Have you ever set your mind on something? That is what I did with exercise. I decided to make a lifestyle change and build a new habit. Exercise would become part of my life, a minimum of four times a week. It was easy at first, and I was really motivated, but by the fourth week, I was reminding myself why I had chosen to make that change in my life. My motivation had dwindled, and I had to talk myself into going through my workout. Since then, more than 10 years have gone by, and some weeks, it is still hard. It is a conscious decision every time. Conscious decisions only make up 10 percent of our actions and attitudes; that leaves 90 percent that happen spontaneously. How many of my unconscious choices, like mindless eating need or being crabby with my family, need examining? UGH.
There are four practices that have helped me create new habits:
- Positive Thinking; scriptures tells us to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). Caroline Leaf in her book Who Switched Off My Brain talks about a chemical process in the brain that takes place when we think positively. Brain scans now show that positive thinking results in a hormone being released that brings peace. How cool is that?
- Make a plan; write out your goal and your step by step plan to get there. Begin with baby steps: eat one less piece of chocolate, eat 10% less at each meal, repeat a positive phrase to yourself each day. Set goals with a time line that’s attainable but also keeps you moving forward.
- Build a positive habit; it is hard to give up something you love like sugary treats. By re-framing it to building a healthy lifestyle, it becomes much easier to achieve. I am building something I desire rather than depriving myself of something I want. This can require many revisits to step one.
- Buddy system; it is so much easier to accomplish any goal with someone holding you accountable. My husband and I recently made up our own point system to support healthy eating and exercise. We gained points for the right choices. Rewards were gained by achieving a certain number of points each week. It worked great. I have to admit I was more successful than I had been in trying to do it on my own.
What new habit do you want to build? What steps are you going to take today? Who can help you be accountable? Share your new habit here and we can help each other be accountable. I’ll admit my husband and I have been off our point system for a while. It’s showing. I’ll commit to restarting it. How about you?