(If you'd like to see my YouTube video on this topic, you can check it out and subscribe to my channel here: https://youtu.be/OSfw7sD3pjE)
One of the biggest reasons change can be challenging is that so much of our daily life is on autopilot. Many of our behaviors are ingrained routines and habits - and they’re often triggered by our environment and what’s around us.
Maybe in the morning you get up, walk into the bathroom, and grab your toothbrush. While you’re brushing your teeth you walk into the kitchen and start the coffee pot. As the coffee is brewing, you look at news headlines on your phone etc.
Toothbrush ---> Coffee ---> Phone
You’re not really thinking about each of these steps, they’re just happening.
But what would happen if you got up in the morning and your toothbrush wasn't in it's usual spot? Or you realize you're out of coffee? Or you're internet isn't working so you can't check headlines on your phone?
Suddenly, you’re forced to make a change and put more conscious thought into what you’re next steps are. Your normal routine is interrupted, and so you have to adapt.
And while unexpected change or change that is out of your control can be stressful at times, one of the best ways to introduce a new behavior into your life is to do it when your normal environment is disrupted, and your usual cues and triggers disappear.
For example, let’s say you go on vacation and you you’re staying in a hotel:
- You don't have a kitchen, so there's no food around and therefore less snacking
- There’s no Netflix to watch your favorite show at night, so you read a book
- You don't have to wake up to an alarm, so you find yourself on a better
When you’re environment changes, your behaviors change. And it’s a great opportunity to try something different, interrupt an habit or routine you don't love, or create a new one.
For a few years, I moved myself down to Florida for three months in the winter. Basically overnight I’d have to completely change my routine.
At home, I’d stop at the grocery store several times a week. But in Florida, the grocery stores were further away and much less convenient to just stop by.
So I had to start planning my trips more efficiently, shopping once a week, and stocking up on whatever I needed instead of making a trip just to grab one or two things.
The gym I usually go to is open 24 hours, but the gym in Florida had regular hours and didn’t open until much later on the weekends. I had to plan my workouts accordingly, and try working out at different times of the day than I was used to.
No more early morning workouts...
The change in environment forced me to reconsider and reorganize my habits and routines. And since my patterns were disrupted - and my usual cues and triggers gone - it was much easier to adapt than if I had tried to make those changes back home.
If you've been following along my health journey, you know that I'm getting ready to have jaw surgery in a couple of weeks. And I've already been thinking about how this huge shift in routine - spending 3 weeks in Spain for surgery and recovery, not being able to eat normally, limited activity etc. - will also be an opportunity for me to make conscious changes to my habits.
For example, I've gotten into the habit of spending more time than I'd like on my computer in the evening. I know I won't be spending a lot of time starting at a screen during the initial recovery phase, so this will be the perfect chance to "break" that habit and find a different evening activity.
I'd also like to establish a more regular mindfulness practice, and I can only imagine that the first few days after surgery - with all the expected discomfort and nothing much to do - will be a great opportunity to make that happen!
Because my usual physical and environmental situation will be so different, I won't be unconsciously falling into my normal patterns. And that gives me the chance to establish or implement new routines and behaviors before I go back home.
If you’re struggling to make a change, implement a behavior, or practice a new habit, see if you can use other changes in your life to help you get started. Consider anything that might cause an adjustment to your environment or current routine, and how you can harness those interruptions to work in your favor.
- Maybe getting that puppy helps you establish a daily walking practice or get
out of bed earlier in the morning.
- Maybe that kitchen renovation is an opportunity to change an eating habit or
create a new meal prep routine.
- Maybe that camping trip can help you adjust your sleep schedule or social media
I’ve said it so many times, but I’ll say it again: change can be hard.
When you have a chance to make it a little easier, take it!
And of course, coaching is another great strategy to make change easier: I'll help you clarify your goals, simplify the process, and practice the action steps that take you from where you are to where you want to go. Send me a message or schedule your free consultation call to get started!