Unexpected Benefits

There are two months left to 2015 and I really want you to finish the year on a high note!  Last week, I wrote about choosing one thing you want to change and making it a habit (It Became a Habit).
Zig Ziglar said: “All bad habits start gradually and slowly, and before you know you have the habit, the habit has you.” 

I prefer something much more positive. By removing just that 3-letter word, this sounds and feels much better to me:

“All habits start gradually and slowly, and before you know you have the habit, the habit has you.”

And I’ve found with myself and my clients that unexpected benefits often come with new habits as well. Often when you master a new habit, you’ll find it replaces one you that wasn’t serving you well.
For me, I found that once I started drinking my 8 glasses of water a day, I no longer wanted my diet soda – something I adored at the time.  My body told me I had enough liquid – done!
A couple of months after I started my new habit, I was at a party with friends and was offered a Diet Coke. I thought to myself “OMG – I haven’t had that in so long! Yes, I’ll take one! The anticipation began… the crack of the tab, the sound of the sizzle and my taste buds were ready. 
And then I took a sip… and literally almost spit it out. (I wanted to, but my social manners dictated otherwise).
My body had readjusted – that liquid pool of chemicals – artificial everything - flavors, colors and sweeteners – no longer appealed to me. At first I was stunned. I looked at the soda can to make sure it really was Diet Coke. Yep. I looked at those around me. Were they reacting like I was? No.
I used to love this stuff!  What happened?  My body was telling me No to these chemicals, and yes to something much better for me. It was really a blessing. I had in effect “crowded out” a “bad” habit with a good one. The new habit had an added benefit – Bonus!
I’m not telling you to stop drinking soda. There are a lot of great reasons to do so, but perhaps that’s not your biggest concern right now.
Maybe you sit too much and need to get moving. Maybe you eat too much junk food, snack late at night or spend your entire evening watching mindless television or on Facebook. Whatever it is, choose ONE thing and change it.

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit."  Aristotle

Here are a few tips to help:

  1. Only one change at a time. Yes, I’ve said this repeatedly – because it’s really important.
  2. Stick with it!  Willpower is like a muscle, so the more we use it, the stronger it gets.
  3. Make your goal behavioral. For example, instead of saying I’m going to lose 10 lbs., it’s more controllable to say, I’m going to go to the gym at 7:00am 4 days a week, pack my lunch 3 days a week, etc. Your behavior will result in the desired outcome (losing weight) and you’ll feel good every day when you accomplish each goal.
  4. Put yourself into a good mood. Watch funny movies, talk with a friend who makes you laugh. Anything that puts you in a happy place will help you through the day.
  5. Give yourself some wiggle room. Avoid absolutes like, “I’m giving up all sweets” or “I’m going to exercise every day.” That can set you up for failure – keep the behaviors challenging but realistic.
  6. Remind yourself of what you’ve accomplished. When you feel discouraged think back on - or write down – those things you’ve made happen in your life, no matter how small they might seem. Your life has been filled with challenges (sometimes it may have just been getting out of bed and going to work) but YOU DID IT! And you can do this too.
"We first make our habits, then our habits make us."  John Dryden

You’ll love how you feel after mastering your new habit, and may have some unintended additional benefits too! 
Wishing you success!