Habits are what we do to serve a function, to meet a need in our lives. We each have characteristic patterns of thinking, do or not doing to meet our needs. The way we eat dinner, complete a grant application, grade a pile of final exams or manage household tasks reflect these patterns. When we feel the pull to meet a need in some other way it is time to change a habit.
Habits are not necessarily good or bad they simple are an approach functioning. At some point in time we may just realize there is a better more desirable way to meet a need, serve a function. Personally I don’t believe in breaking a habit. These patterns stay with us for life, they took time to become established and like the little scars we accumulate over time, they may fade but they don’t entirely disappear. The key here is to begin establishing a new habit. And give yourself time to get into a new groove.
We know that it takes about 7 times for a new connection to be established between synapses. Habits become engrained in our brains as much as in our minds and bodies. Muscle memory does not miraculously come to be. It is established my practice, trial and correction and more practice. Now I don’t need to think about where my feet are positioned when I am outside partner dancing the foxtrot, but it took multiple times learning to feel the position of my feet and legs and torso when actually in outside partner position. It takes time to step back and see our patterns for what they are, to decide to change and then begin to see the possibilities of what we could do instead.
Here are 5 tips to make a establishing a new habit.
- Simply observe, without judgment “What is it I am doing?” “What is happening?“
- Picture your desired outcome: “What do I wish to gain by..?”
- Trust your inner self: Don’t intellectualize here, but don’t block out the information delivered through all your senses, as well as your intuition/gut/inner voice. What are the possibilities for you?
- Consider what you gain and lose by: electing to establish a new pattern? By maintain a current pattern?
- Simply observe, without judgment, what has changed and the results that come from the new habit.