From TJ Magazine: Changing habits

Written by Liggy Webb on 7 June 2019 in Features
Features

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. Ready to change some habits? Liggy Webb provides her five-step solution.

Reading time: 2m 30s.

"Habits are at first cobwebs and then they become cables.”

This Spanish proverb is certainly food for thought. Habits play such a big part in the way we behave, and experts have long debated what percentage make up our daily behaviours. The consensus of various studies indicates that it could well exceed 40%, with some experts believing it may even stretch as far as 90%.

Suffice to say, human beings are creatures of habit; we often operate on autopilot and don’t always apply conscious thought to what we are doing. This can be useful if the habits you are performing are constructive, positive and healthy. But if you have collected habits that are not useful or relevant, or are detrimental to your wellbeing, it is important to make changes.

If you keep doing what you have always done you will most likely get the same outcomes. In a world that is changing rapidly, adaptability and responsiveness are key; getting stuck in your ways will only limit your ability to grow and thrive.

Habits play such a big part in the way we behave, and experts have long debated what percentage make up our daily behaviours.

The good news is that, through your brain’s neuroplasticity, you have the ability to reorganise the way you think and behave by forming new neural connections. The scientific research around the exact amount of time it takes to change a habit has indicated that it could be anywhere between 28 days to 66 days, depending on what it is.

Habitual change does require effort, patience and persistence; so, if you don’t see results immediately, manage your expectations and don’t give up too easily. There are many ways that you can help yourself to change your habits. Here are five suggestions: 

Identify the habit

You need to be clear about what it is you want to change and, crucially, understand your motives for doing so. When you identify the benefits and rewards, you will be more motivated and committed.

Focus

Don’t overwhelm yourself by attempting to change too many habits at once; breaking things down into digestible chunks is important. Marginal gains are a great way to simplify even the most complex goal. 



Take the 30-day challenge It can take a minimum of 28 days to embed a new habit or behaviour, so manage your expectations and don’t expect it to happen overnight. Repetition is the way to establish your habits and setting a 30-day challenge is a great way to begin rewiring those neural pathways.

Find a conscience buddy

It’s easy to make excuses and give up on things you set out to do. Finding someone with whom you can share the process of changing the habit can help you to feel more committed and supported.

Reward yourself

The reward you give yourself for achieving your new habit is an integral and powerful way to sustain it. Rewards can satisfy cravings, which often drive the habit in the first place. Positive reinforcement through rewards will  fuel your desire and actively encourage you to stay on track with your habitual change.

 

About the author

Liggy Webb is CEO of www.learningarchitect.com and best-selling author of Resilience: How to Cope When Everything Around You Keeps Changing (Capstone). Liggy received the TJ Special Achievement Award in 2018.

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