I have recently came across insightful advice about habits: always become aware of every small thing you do in a day and realize what is creating your life outcomes, before having to be stuck and think “It was fate”.
Every small habit, from brushing your teeth, how you eat to how you manage stress can make you free or keep you in a loop over the years.
1. It is not fate to always struggle with lack of money or stress over money.
2. It is not fate to live in a place where you are not happy, even if that is a country, a city, a village or a house.
3. It is not fate to be overweight and start having health problems. The same if you are underweight.
4. And is also not fate to live a life in loneliness, because you were “meant” not to have friends around you, a partner or a family.
The outcomes in our lives are all connected to simple choices that we make every day.
To explain that, I will detail the same examples below:
1. You can be born in a family that has big financial difficulties, or in one where money has been always a priority and a reason for stress, but it is your choice to accept that situation as being imprinted in your fate or, change it, with the power of habit.
2. There are 195 countries in the world. Where does it say that is mandatory to live in only one, for the rest of your life? You can always explore new cultures, new countries, cities, change houses or even just the quality of your house.
3. Many health issues can be a consequence of long term choices. Too much sugar over the years, too much smoking or drinking or substance consumption, too much food, not enough nutritious food, not enough movement, they can all gradually affect your life. Sometimes, if you are open to see the truth, you can identify the signs like: lack of energy, pain in different areas of the body, sugar cravings and binge eating, moving slowly, breathing heavily, difficulty doing simple daily activities, palpitations. They can all be kind requests for help from your body.
4. Being lonely can seriously affect your mental health. There is a difference between preference in taking your time with yourself and isolating yourself. We are the masters of our social life and quality of our relationships.
Here’s a technique for making small initial changes in 4 STEPS: WHAT- WHY- WHEN- HOW (*requires writing)
One by one, think of the current state of these 4 areas of your life:
1. Financial situation
4. Social life
Choose one and write your answers to the following questions: (you can do it only for one or for all areas, depending on where you want to create improvement).
-WHAT do you want to be better? Write down a very clear small objective.
*clear objectives that contain numbers, location or other indicators are most efficient for the brain.
Continue with writing down your new identity in this area of your life: I am a person that will……(complete with the above objective).
-WHY will you make this change? (write 2 short term and 2 long term reasons/advantages).
-WHEN -how much time will it take to achieve this change? (not too short, because it generates anxiety, not too long because it generates procrastination).
-HOW write down a first small BEHAVIOR that you can start implementing right away.
- Behaviorial examples for changing a financial situation: use an app to keep track of your expenses, save an amount of money every month, make a monthly shopping list with a limited budget, stop buying new things that are not on the list, resell things that you don’t use.
Also,more complex behaviors: start looking for a new job, a part time or a collaboration, enroll in a course or develop new professional abilities, ask and work for a promotion, open a small business etc.
- Behaviorial examples for changing your environment: clean your house more often, tidy up your room every morning, maintain order through your objects, do chores for a few minutes daily (instead of letting chores pile up and give you stress).
More complex behaviors: Look for a new apartment to rent/ buy, look for job opportunities in other cities, countries, study the culture, language or environment of a country you dream of living in.
- Behavioral examples for improving your health: take the stairs instead of the elevator, take a walk, do 50 squats, eat 2 vegetables/fruits per day, use skin care, meditate for 5 minutes, drink a glass of water every two hours, take your vitamins etc.
More complex behaviors: start a food plan, start a workout routine, make appointments with your doctor, sleep as much as you need, lose or gain weight and quit sugar consumption.
- Behavioral examples for improving your social life: call old friends weekly, speak with one new person weekly, say yes to an invitation, invite a person you like for an activity, express your feelings, give a compliment instead of criticism, visit your family, invite your partner for a conversation or an activity, go on a date
More complex behaviors: talk calmly in an argument, express emotions of love, anger, anxiety, sadness by starting with “I feel….” instead of “You make me feel”, end a relationship that makes you unhappy, address old patters of reaction in relationships, solve past emotional traumas.
Essential tips for success in implementing change:
- Always start with the smallest behavioral change, so all following changes will only be more significant , bringing motivation, instead of anxiety.
- Create and follow clear schedules for the week, day, hours of the day: Respect a weekly schedule for: sleep, food shopping, cooking, exercising, working, personal development, hobbies, self care. Set specific hours everyday for a specific activity.
- Add new behaviors that don’t feel comfortable in combination with favorite behaviors, in order to create CHAINS: showering + breakfast, 10 minute exercise + coffee, taking your vitamins + eating one fruit and drinking a glass of water, go for a walk + buy fresh vegetables from the market, cook + listen to an audio book, meditate + 5 minutes stretching, start a project + call a friend for encouragement.
- Make new behaviors accessible for the memory until they become a routine: Keep water on the desk, fruit on the table, sport clothes on the bed, vitamins on your night stand, yoga mat in your room, etc.
Remember: every choice of today can change your future in great ways in a few years from now! You deserve your best life!
By Teodora Goloiu, Mind&Body coach