Our habits make us! “First we make our habits, then our habits make us.” ~ Charles Noble . At our meeting on June 24th, Nam, one of our speakers shared her tips how we need to align our habits with our core desires in life if we wish to attain happiness and satisfaction.
She’s someone who finds going to gym a chore. yet she yearns to stay fit and beautifully happy. How did she turn a chore into a habit? Here’s how:
She referred to Charles Duhigg’s theory, as outlined in his book The Power of Habit, which was released in January 2014. Duhigg’s theory is called “the habit loop,” and its basic premise is that making something a habit is a three-step process.
First, you have to pick a cue, which is a trigger that reminds your brain to start thinking about the habit you want to develop (in this case, exercise). Then, you pick a reward, which will help motivate you (in this case, a beautiful healthy body). And finally, you actually do the routine you want to make a habit.
Now, how does “the habit loop” apply to exercise specifically? That’s where Nam comes in. First, she recommends using the morning time as your cue. “Interruptions are less likely to happen first thing in the morning, so use your alarm clock as your cue to wake up and hit the gym 3-5 times a week. Or make a regular a.m. running date with a friend, so she holds you accountable, or leave your gym shoes by the coffee machine so you’ll see them right when you wake up,” Nam explains. Keep in mind, too, that just because you’re developing a habit by working out in the morning doesn’t mean you have to be a morning-worker-outter forever. Once you feel secure in the fact that exercising is a habit, then you can vary it up and sweat it out whenever. “But it’s best to be consistent at first,” said Nam.
Next, vary up your workout routine when you get out there. “You don’t have to do the same thing at the gym when you go, or go running all the time, to make exercise a habit,” advises Nam. “It’s better to do a variety of activities so it doesn’t feel like work. That way, you won’t get bored, and you’ll enjoy it more, so you’re more likely to stick with it,” she explains. Vary it up and try a morning yoga class, a morning cycling class—just make sure you’re doing something.
And finally, treat yourself after your workout with your reward of choice. This doesn’t mean reaching for a cupcake, though, or having a thousand extra helpings of donuts because “you deserve it.” Nope, it just means acknowledging that you accomplished a goal, and doing something that makes you happy—like listening to your favorite song, calling a friend, watching a funny movie, whatever.
If you stick to this loop every week, you should eventually fall into a routine so that exercising feels like second nature. I felt extra driven after the meeting and have been trying to establish this habit to become a better me this year. What about you?
By Nuchanath Aumpradithpun DTM