We do things a little differently here at the Grewal Center for Mind body Medicine. We discuss frequently with patients that we don’t want you to just create goals; We want you to create habits. Goals are achieved through a series of actions you decide to take. Your actions form habits throughout each day that either lead you to your goals or keep you from getting there. Knowing how to create or edit your habits towards your goals is the key to your success.
As described in Charles Duhigg’s book, How Habits Work, there is a three-part loop you follow at the base of all of your habits. This habit-loop consists of cue, routine and reward. When I look at your health timeline and matrix, I find out some factors that contribute to your habit-loop. The timeline and matrix are standard assessments that I use to get to the root cause of your imbalances. If you are able to identify and fix the negative habits in your life, you will be more likely to reach and sustain your goals. Using the steps below, here is HOW you create those habits:
The Three Step Process for Creating Successful Habits
A cue is something to which you create a response. For example, when you’re driving and you see the traffic lights turn red, you stop. That light was your cue to stop. This applies to every action you take throughout the day. Whether it is hearing your alarm clock that signals for you to get ready for work, or finding yourself bored and craving something like a sweet snack as a distraction.
List your goals and outline the behaviors getting in the way of achieving them. You can start to recognize which cues may trigger habits that are hindering your success. With this knowledge you will be able to start changing your response, or your routine to the cue.
This is the part of the habit-loop where you can create better habits. For example, if your alarm clock goes off (cue to wake up!) and you often hit snooze (routine), you may find you are rushed for time. This sets up a chain of events throughout your day to which you will make routine responses. You may not have time to eat a healthy breakfast but you are hungry (cue) so you may reach for a breakfast cereal or bar (routine). If it is your goal to be on time to events or to lose weight, these routines do not help.
This is where you are literally replacing your habit with a BETTER habit. You know that hitting snooze makes you late and that choosing foods lower in nutritional value are not furthering your weight-loss efforts. Get up when the alarm goes off and enjoy the time to prepare a healthier breakfast and arriving early to work. Enforce better habits for a minimum of six weeks without skipping a day. There is evidence that proves it takes several weeks before we solidify habits. Notice how after this time frame, it is just a natural part of your day to make healthier choices.
No matter how negative your routine may be, when you’ve completed a task, a positive stimulus goes off in your brain. You get that feeling of, "I've checked off a to-do, phew!" This feeling is short-lived if the routine was not geared towards your goals. You need to know what reward you are seeking from the actions you take.
Realize the feelings that follow. When you notice your cues and choose better habits in response, you will realize the reward is in the results you are achieving. Imagine how great you will feel when you are no longer rushed, are eating a nutrient-rich breakfast and maybe you have even made time to acquire those good-feeling endorphins with a workout...all before you arrive early to work.
By editing your habits and making them healthier, you will be living the goals you once only hoped to attain. Your life is more than a list of goals, it is made up of a series of habits and lifestyle choices.
Start today to notice in what areas of your life that you would like to improve. What habits do you need to initiate or edit, to reach your optimal wellness? Notice your cues, choose healthy habits and enjoy the reward.
To your health,
Economy, Peter. (2019, January). Top 10 New Year's Resolutions for Success and Happiness in 2019. https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/10-top-new-years-resolutions-for-success-happiness-in-2019.html