How to Make New Habits Stick

How to Make New Habits Stick

Making new habits one day at a time


Habits are fascinating things, we unconsciously form some habits like biting our nails, whilst consciously trying to give up some or create new ones.   So, if a habit is something we can do both consciously and unconsciously, why is creating a new one so challenging?  As I mentioned in my earlier blog “How to Create New Habits”, it is overwhelming, often we do not break it down into manageable chunks,  it has to matter and be something that we truly want.  You may well have had the experience where you thought “I want to lose some weight” but not made any progress and then something happens; like an invite to a party or plans for a holiday, and suddenly you are motivated to lose those few pounds.  So, we can use a similar motivation to consciously create new habits….

Creating a new habit or changing your lifestyle takes commitment and time.  It typically takes 4-6 weeks for a new habit or regime to bed-in and often we lose momentum before the time is up and hence fall back into our old habits or routines.  This is often why New Year’s resolutions are not achieved beyond the end of January, we don’t give ourselves enough time, we are impatient or simply forget in the moment.  The biggest challenge is that once we have slipped back into old habits we think that we are starting all over again, rather than just picking up where we left off.

So, here are my tips for making a new habit stick:

1) Make sure it is achievable: a goal that is too much of a stretch will feel too hard and you may give up once you start to feel demotivated.  If the goal is a big one, break it up into smaller more manageable goals.

2) Test your commitment: ask yourself out of 10 how likely are you to make this change and if not a 10, how can you get it closer to a 10? For example: if the goal is getting fitter and so you think you’ll join a gym, however this is not going to fit in around your work and personal commitments consider an alternative approach, such as going for a walk at lunch times.

3) Celebrate success: ensure you have milestones so you can measure your progress and celebrate each one as its achieved.  Enjoy the change that is taking place.

4) Forgive yourself: if you fall off the wagon, or eat that big chocolate bar, don’t chastise yourself, reflect on what caused the blip and consider how you can avoid the situation in the future.  If it was a treat  – enjoy it and then get back to your plan.

5) Keep a log or journal: not only will this help keep your goal at the front of mind, you can also reflect back on it when you are experiencing periods of challenge and take inspiration from yourself.

6) Visualize the new you, as in believe, behave, become (source: IDology): create a mental image of the new you and act the part. For example, if you are going to improve your lifestyle imagine how you will feel, embrace the change by behaving differently, adopt the routines of that lifestyle and soon you will become that change.

7) Make the change with someone: often we are motivated by joint experiences, so making the change with someone else who can support you and enjoy the highs and lows is a great way to achieve your goals.  Make it fun by adding rewards or challenges for you both…

8) Enjoy it: the most important part is that the transformation is a fun experience: the journey is as important as the destination!

Once you have adopted the new habit don’t become complacent.  It is still easy to fall back into old habits, so if that happens just reflect on what occurred and continue with the positive approach that helped you get to that point.  Good luck… it will be worth it!

How to Make New Habits Stick

How to Create New Habits…

Why do the “n” habits of a successful person not work for me … This is something I hear when I work with my coaching clients, who have bought a book, that offers some magic cure to their woes.  My view is that they don’t work because one size does not fit all, and not every approach works for everyone.  Also, mostly these approaches tell you what to do, not how to do it, so people may try yet flounder quickly and then revert to previous behaviours.

The trick is to create new behaviours, habit and routines that feel comfortable, that fit you and support what you want to achieve.   This can involve picking and choosing the elements from a process that works.  In most cases the shared approaches offer wonderful wisdom, it is is just hard to chunk them down and not everyone appreciates that you don’t have to do everything right away.  Sometimes though, the techniques are extreme you are either being encouraged to say No or if you do that too much to say Yes!  As with everything moderation is key and it must seem authentic for you.

Think about which bits make sense and can work for you. Consider these approaches as a guides that are providing a shopping list of things to do and it will feel less daunting.  Take it one step at a time and do things in the order that feel right for you.  When you choose the new habit you are going to create, consider out of 10 how likely you are to do it and then if it’s not a 10 out of 10, reflect on what would make the new habit or routine more achievable.

Be kind to yourself and forgive yourself when old habits creep in…  doing something new takes time and when you are feeling tired or stressed you are more likely to revert to the old well trodden path.

For more ideas, read this blog post…

You, Me and My Ego

You, Me and My Ego

How many of you are in the room during your individual client coaching sessions?  It seems like an unnecessary question, why? 2 of course: my client and me.  I would challenge you to ensure that is stays that way, as I challenge myself and question when is my ego appearing and how can I suppress it.

I have recently had a few conversations with people about their experience with their own coaches and have been uncomfortable with what I have heard…

My friend recently came out of their session and said to me “it must be wonderful to be a coach and see the transformation”.  I wondered what had elicited this and she went on to say her coach had said “hers was a text book breakthrough”.  This is a strange comment and I am not sure who it serves.  My friend was very happy with her coaching experience and I am sure theirs is a very good coach.  As an onlooker, however, I can’t help but feel that the coach’s ego has slipped into the room, as in this comment they are both imposing the idea that transformation has occurred and that it follows a “text book” approach.   For my friend this was fine, but for people less independent I am concerned that this could create a dependence, whereby the coaching client feel they have achieved the transformation because of the coach rather than their own resources.

So, as I was interested in my reaction, I mentioned this to a coach I respect, their face said it all and confirmed my concern that a coaching engagement should be classified as “text book”.  My story reminded them of their own coaching experience with a coach whose ego had joined them in the room.  On this occasion the coach ignored the wishes of the client to reflect on a new topic and made them go back to the aspects of the previous session.  As they felt that my friend, a very experienced coach, had unfinished business.   My friend on the other had wanted to explore a new topic. Their coach wouldn’t allow this and so pushed their agenda and forced my friend to go over, what felt for them, like old ground. At the end of the session the coach exclaimed that they thought that was a good session and that a real breakthrough  had been achieved… my friend however, did not!  They voted with their feet, never to return to that coach again.  This is not only not good for the client, who really wanted to move along their new agenda item but not good for the coach’s business!

I reflect then:  What gives when a coach sets the agenda against the wishes of their client or a coach hijacks someone’s progress?  I can’t think of a good reason or example for the coach’s ego to be in the room and I remind myself of this when I reflect on how well or otherwise a session is going or went.  It’s not about me, I am there to enable the situation not to bathe in the outcome or otherwise… It is essential that the coach let the client set the agenda, and support them as they achieve their goals but do not hijack their success.  Also, even if there is unfinished business, the client must be allowed to set the agenda for what they want to achieve.

Allow the third person in the room at your peril!