At many moments in life, we are faced with a choice, a choice to build anew and change our way of life. This change has comes with a cost, a cost of existing comfortable lifestyle. It is indeed a hefty price to pay and many a time, we choose not to.
The comfort of the past calls to us, be it from our environment or from our desire for safety or from fear of the unknown or just out of habit. In the face of such challenge, it is how we rise to the occasion that defines us.
In this article, I have illustrated a set of practices that we can follow to make sure that any new lifestyle change or habit can be incorporated into our routine.
MAKE IT SUSTAINABLE
In the rush to change, we take on more than we can handle and are faced with the burden of our new habits. We face resistance in the form of our old habits esp. after the enthusiasm, energy and motivation from the new dies out.
So, how do we make sure we are able to continue doing our new routine? First and foremost, we have to make it simple and sustainable.
The first three laws of behavior change—make it obvious, make it attractive, and make it easy—increase the odds that a behavior will be performed this time.
For example, if you want to have writing as part of your routine, make sure to set a minimum threshold like 15 minutes of writing. Then, everyday, no matter what, you give those 15 minutes. Anything beyond is a plus. Your focus is to get the minimum threshold in day by day. You will then be able to account for change of location in case of travel or any shift in the daily routine and squeeze in the minimum threshold of your chosen task.
OPTIMIZE YOUR ENVIRONMENT
A lot of the time, our own environment does not reflect the change you aim for. We want to eat healthy and yet our fridge is stocked with a load of junk food. We want to sleep early and yet we go to bed with our mobile phone by us. We keep the same old environment making us fall back to old habits.
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
If we do not create systems in our environment to support us in the change we are looking to enforce, we will end up reverting to our old selves.
ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR PAST
Your past behavior & identity are ingrained in you. The core of your character and human nature is hard to change. It took years to shape you and become who you are. How do you expect to change overnight and expect it to stick?
It’s hard to change your habits if you never change the underlying beliefs that led to your past behavior. True behavior change is identity change. You might start a habit because of motivation, but the only reason you’ll stick with one is that it becomes part of your identity.
The key is to understand your beliefs, what drove your former routines, what shaped you and initiate change from the core. If you do know not acknowledge your past, you will always fall back to old ways because you never solved the root of your underlying problem.
THERE IS ONLY NOW
While we pursue our new behaviors and routines, we may occasionally find ourselves lapse to old ways. We instantly fall into a spiral of regret and what ifs looking for ways we could have avoided it all. It is good to look at the past with an analytical eye, but once we arrive at a conclusion, there is no use brooding on what has been.
Understand: there is only the present. We can take charge of the moment and make the change we are working towards instead of regretting the mistakes we made.
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR SELF
We often forget the amount of power we hold on ourselves and our choices. If we take a moment and step back before making a decision, we can see the consequences, both positive and negative and take charge of the results.
By taking responsibility for our own actions, we end up in a position where we are not dependent on external forces. There are many that are out of our hands, but our responsibility gives us the power to be the driving force.
FIND THE JOY IN THE PROCESS
A lot of the time, in the process of building a new routine, we forget the true reason we started out in the first place. We lose that initial spirit, that enthusiasm and joy and fall to going through the motions mechanically. This creates a resistance in our mind towards the change. The path is lonely and it is no longer fun.
Today, we must continue to wrestle. We must continue to struggle and fight for victory. It won’t be easy—it never is—but that’s the whole point. It’s the man in the arena that we admire. It’s the one covered in dust and sweat that matters. And that’s who we are.
We have to find the joy in the mundane and the struggle. We are on the path to something better. We chase the light at the end of the tunnel and it is there. We have seen it in the past with other habits we incorporated in our life. We admire the struggle and find joy in it as it sculpts us to a better self.
THE JOURNEY IS ALWAYS ONGOING
Finally, the most important thing to remember is that the journey to become better is always ongoing. There is always room for improvement. We can take a moment for ourselves, relax, and take a break. But we should not lose ourselves in the comforts. We can always strive to be better and we have to continue to work towards it.
Soon you will find that it is second nature to you. What started out as a new habit with lot of resistance and hurdles is now part of your daily routine. You are all the more better for it.
To winning battles and finding your better self...
Originally published on November 5th, 2023