Welcome to a Joyful You
Posted on Feb 03, 2017
Start Small. Start Easy. Start Slow.
When it comes to building lasting changes, it's all about taking one step at a time. Don't overwhelm yourself by setting unrealistic goals. Resolutions are much easier to start and even easier to maintain when small, simple and started with ease. Allow your accomplishments to build upon each other. This will build the momentum needed to tackle those high targets and eventually capture those seemingly illusive dreams. So, instead of committing to working out everyday for example, commit to one or two days a week and slowly build upon that. Make only a few small commitments at first that you know you can accomplish, and know that your bigger accomplishments will come with patience and persistence.
"He that can have patience can have what he will" - Benjamin Franklin
According to a Duke University researcher, "more than 40% of the actions people performed each day weren't actual decisions, but habits." This means a lot of our lifestyle is dictated by the unconscious habits we have created rather than the conscious decisions we make. Let's work with these habits so this effortless and automatic 40% can be contributing to our health and happiness rather than destroying it. And again, start with small, manageable habits that fit into your daily routine.
The Habit Loop
There is always something that initiates a habit to be performed. For example, when you wake up, the first thing you might do is make a cup of coffee. Then this action, or habit, is followed by the reward of increased energy and focus from the caffeine. Use this basic three step structure of trigger (wake up feeling tired), routine (coffee) and reward (energy) to build beneficial habits.
Find a Simple and Specific Trigger
A trigger can be anything from a specific date and time (every Wednesday directly after work) to a thought or feeling (every time I get a sweet tooth). The important thing is to make it small, simple and specific.
We all know that habits are hard to start and even harder to stop. What most of us don't know is that habits are easy to change. So instead of creating new habits from scratch or trying to kick bad habits to the curb, just change them. Find the things that trigger a bad habit and replace the habit with a good one. For example, every time you have the urge to bite your nails (trigger), you could replace the nail-biting habit with chewing gum (new habit). Eventually, nail-biting will be a thing of the past.
Establish a Defined Routine
Once you've honed in on a specific cue that can trigger a habit, define and establish a specific action or routine like: go to your favorite yoga instructors class every Wednesday directly after work, or eat a small piece of dark chocolate instead of a pack of cookies every time you get a sweet tooth. Especially when built upon pre-existing habits, these simple commitments can create effortless, persistent actions and lasting change.
Enjoy Your Reward
Once the trigger is determined and the action is initiated, don't forget your reward. Strong habits persist because a certain craving is consistently met after a specific cue triggers a specific routine which leads the fulfillment of a specific reward. The reward is the thing that satisfies that craving and is what solidifies the action into a routine habit.
Sticking with our examples from earlier (Wednesday yoga and the sweet tooth), the rewards will often be implanted in the actions or the completion of the actions themselves (the restful presence that yoga stimulates and the dopamine that a little bit of chocolate releases). Just take the time to be aware and present enough to really enjoy the rewards from your actions. Eventually, you'll develop a specific craving for those rewards, solidifying the routine into the subconscious.
But, sometimes the reward is not that easily realized. Sometimes, you must take the time to bask in your accomplishments. Give yourself gratitude for completing your task. Once you've completing a routine you committed to, take the time to appreciate your effort by saying, "Good job, me!" And if that's not enough, keep your eye on the reward you'll receive with continued effort while at the same time recognizing your current progress.
Be patient, and You'll Get There!
Remember, resolutions are long term aims. We're not just going to the gym or yoga studio for the month of January just to satisfy new year's "obligations." We're changing our habits to create a more prosperous future; to be who we were born to be. Be patient and ease into it; anything worthwhile takes time. Allow your gradual yet persistent effort be your guiding force. Momentum will build until you're accomplishing things you've only dreamed of.
"The two most powerful warriors are patience and time" - Leo Tolstoy
Come back to the mat this new year and commit to YOU. Enjoy HUGE deals until February 5th, on all memberships, class packs, and more, here at Joy Yoga Center.