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How To Develop New Habits

Nothing is more exciting than watching your own progress and seeing neuroplasticity in action.

Sometimes you have to experience a “trigger” to finally force you to start making changes. But let me tell you, being aware of your bad habits is the first step.

I’m not going to lie, developing habits isn’t easy but NOTHING worthwhile comes easy. I like to reframe it as an “adventure” and since I love adventures, I literally get excited…. sounds lame but your reality is the story you tell yourself!

So try to get excited about your new adventure to personal growth— tell yourself this every day to reprogram your brain because your subconscious never turns off.

Two years ago, my body literally shut down from:

  • a car accident
  • chronic stress and a go-go-go lifestyle of running multiple online businesses
  • getting out of a toxic relationship
  • my athlete mentality of radical discipline and being too hard on myself

My digestive system shut down. I was losing sight in my right eye from a concussion. I was in constant chronic pain. My hormones were out of whack. My mood was all over the place. I couldn’t do my favorite thing in the world (cycling) without being in pain. I lived in chronic pain. I didn’t look like it on the outside but I was literally a mess.

The problem was my way of dealing with stress was to keep on going. To stay busy. To push even harder. You can imagine what this would be to an already over-burdened nervous system.

After spending the last decade immersed in fitness and discipline, it was devastating to lose everything just like that. But luckily, I had already developed a mindset of iron and the drive to move forward came naturally, so I decided my healing journey was just another challenge I will overcome.

Keyword: DECIDE.

I am driven by the fact that I never want to sabotage my own life— I see other people’s problems, reverse engineer how they got there, and promised myself I don’t want it to happen to me. I’m not judging at all but you should always be observant and learn from the world around you.

No one is coming to save you but yourself.

The first thing I had to do was change a few habits.

Two years later, I have made profound progress in my healing journey and I took most of that on upon myself because it was impossible navigating an already broken allopathic medical system during the pandemic.

I had to heal my gut, my mind, and my soul.

Here are some habits I’ve developed in the last couple of years:

  • No more wasting time and procrastinating. I learned to work in super-focused sprints while prioritizing active recovery to avoid burnout again.
  • Breathwork and meditation every single day. Whenever I have the chance, I find time for quiet, to create boredom, and do absolutely NOTHING.
  • Journaling every day.
  • Eating earlier in the day to avoid blood-sugar drops and cravings later in the day.
  • Eliminated the urge to eat junk food. I very rarely crave junk food these days.
  • Not eating late at night (one of my previous bad habits).
  • Eating smaller portions.
  • Lifting more weights (instead of cycling all the time). This was tough!
  • Learned how to rewire my mind to get rid of pain.
  • Get rid of the urge to always “go hard” when cycling or working out.
  • Being on my phone. Now I HATE being on my phone— went too far on the other end!

Don’t you just CRINGE when you see people on their phones while walking on the streets, or couples on the phones and not talking in a restaurant?! Don’t worry, all habits can be unlearned!

How To Develop New Habits

How To Form Any New Habit:

First, Identify The Problem:

1. Become Aware.

All behaviors are driven by a desire to solve a problem.

We need to identify that problem.

The first step is to be aware that you have a problem.

Your brain can’t fix or solve anything it doesn’t understand. Come up with a list of things you want to fix or traits you don’t like about yourself. Be honest.

2. Put a Label On Your Problem.

Tell yourself exactly what you want to fix. Say it out loud. Tell a friend. Write it in your journal. Write it on your bathroom mirror. This makes it real to your brain.

3. Find Your Cue.

Recognize your triggers. Find the root cause.

When do you pick up your phone?

  • in line at the store
  • waiting for the bus
  • waiting for the light to change at the intersection
  • waiting for a friend to arrive

4. Ask Yourself “WHY”

You need to be able to identify the CUES that trigger you to perform your bad habits. Get real with yourself.

A few possible examples:

Why am I using my phone when my partner uses the restroom? Because I’m afraid of sitting in the restaurant alone.

Why am I posting photos of my friends on Snapchat while at dinner with them? Because I’m insecure and care too much about what people think about me.

Why am I using my phone in the bathroom?! Because I have FOMO and feel like I’m falling behind in life. Or, I don’t have enough time and this is the only time I have for myself.

Why am I using the phone to watch useless videos of some idiot crashing his bike? Because I’m it’s distracting me from the loneliness I’m feeling.

Why am I on the phone when I’m waiting in line? Because I’m uncomfortable with being alone with my mind.

HINT: It’s not about the phone.

You crave being on your phone it gives you a STATE CHANGE.

You pick up your phone because it makes you feel better about yourself, and satisfies a deep-rooted desire you may not even know you have.

By the way, there’s nothing to be ashamed of because I assure you that many people are you are feeling the same things. You’re not alone.

Second, Initiate The Solutions:

5. Replace The Old Habit With New Behavior.

Since your brain has linked that craving to an internal state, you need to replace it with something else— essentially rewiring your brain to learn to prefer a new craving that will still give you the same feeling (internal state).

Problem: You have the nasty habit of going on your phone while in the washroom because it’s the only alone time you have for yourself. But the phone is only distracting you from your real problem: you have too much going on and you’re overwhelmed.

Solution: Next time you go to the washroom, put your phone down first and tell yourself, “I am going to use this time to clear my mind and get intuned with myself.” When you’re stressed, you need to declutter your mind. Instead of being on your phone, do breath work, body scan, or stare at the wall.

It will get easier over time!

6. Reward yourself To Satisfy Your Craving.

Set milestones and reward yourself with positive reinforcement because it teaches your brain your new habit is worth remembering in the future. Your brain loves rewards. It loves to feel good.

Choose mindful rewards:

  • Treat yourself to a delicious acai bowl with an extra scoop of collagen.
  • Go for a decadent brunch with your friends.
  • Buy yourself a new gym outfit.
  • I personally reward myself with bike rides & going to the gym!

How To Remove Friction When Forming New Habits

Be Intentional.

Every decision you take moving forward, you’re going to ask yourself, “is this driving me toward or taking me away from my goal?”

Neurons that wire together, fire together. You’re rewiring your brain to form new habits.

Use A Mantra To Reframe “Resistance”.

You are going to feel a lot of resistance in the beginning but train yourself to run toward it.

Every time I feel resistance, I catch it and say use the mantra “resistance is good”. It disappears over time.

Set Your Environment Up For Success.

Unfollow/delete anything and anyone that will distract you from your goals. Your subconscious NEVER turns off. The music you listen to, and your negative friend with bad habits who parties too much will have an effect on you whether you know it or not.

Stay consistent.

If you stray, be nice to yourself but don’t let inconsistencies happen two days in a row.

The Take-Away

This sound like conventional advice but creating new habits and rewiring your mind requires HARD WORK.

THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS IF YOU WANT TO CREATE NEW HABITS. Sorry!

How bad do you want it?

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kate

kate

Serial entrepreneur, creative strategist, writer, columnist, designer, web developer, athlete, digital marketer, e-commerce specialist, holistic nutritionist, and certified peak performance + life + wellness coach. INTJ. Contrarian thinker. Love to be intellectually stimulated. READ MY STORY →

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