If you are constantly struggling to create lasting change in your life, but haven’t been able to achieve a permanent difference, then maybe you’re focusing on a level that doesn’t work.   Quite often when thinking about a change you focus on the outcome.  The end result.  While its really important to be clear about the outcome, if you don’t follow it up on the level of behaviour it exponentially decreases your chances of making that change. If you want to change something, maybe make a News Year’s resolution or just achieve a goal,  once that goal is set, you need to put that out of your mind and focus instead on your daily habitual behaviours for success.

Understanding The Neuroscience Of Habit Formation

Change is a constant in life, but lasting change, especially self-improvement, often hinges on altering our habitual behaviours. Neuroscience reveals that habits are patterns etched into our neural pathways, making them second nature. To successfully change, we must rewire these pathways. This process involves the basal ganglia, a brain region crucial for developing habits. When we repeat a behaviour, our brain’s plasticity allows these pathways to strengthen, making the behaviour more automatic.

James Clear’s “Atomic Habits” and BJ Fogg’s “Tiny Habits” emphasize the importance of small, consistent changes. They argue that monumental changes begin with minute, almost imperceptible shifts in our daily routines. These approaches have gained popularity due to their practicality and the scientific backing of the power of incremental change.

Mapping Habitual Change: A Practical Approach

There are lots of apps out there recognising and supporting your desire to create lasting change at the level of habitual behaviour. To start changing habits, one must first identify the existing ones. However you don’t need a paid app, you can use the most  practical tool for this is in the form of a habit-tracking spreadsheet.

Years ago I ran into difficulties managing money.  I realised if I was ever going to pay off my debt and begin saving I needed to change the way I approached my spending.   I started off logging my income and then setting my level of expenditure that matched my income.  It sounds simple, but if you’ve ever waved a credit card around for a snap purchase, then you will know how easy it is to ignore overspending.

After a few months of being careful to live within my means, I began to be able to save.  I had been so bad at managing my money, it took 3 years of logging my spending until I no longer had to do this.  The habit of living within my means and saving had become part of my DNA.  .

Similarly, with weight management this principle can be utilised. You can track dietary intake and exercise, and therefore you can easily calculate a calorie deficit.  Weightloss if viewed by changing behavioural habits can become a mathematical calculation rather than a huge emotionally charged problem.  By consistently logging information, tracking weight management factors help form healthier eating and exercise habits.

This principle of tracking minute steps for behaviours you want to change focusing on carrying out those steps can take the emotional charge and compulsion out of the continuous cycle of practicing habits that don’t serve us any longer.

Step-By-Step Guide To Changing Habits

There are myriad ways of approaching how to create lasting change through focusing on habits, but at its simplest here are some steps which if followed consistently can help make those changes.

  1. Identify the Habit: Pinpoint what you want to change.
  2. Start Small: Implement tiny changes that lead to the larger goal.
  3. Be Consistent: Repeat the new behaviour daily to form a new habit.
  4. Track Progress: Use tools like spreadsheets or apps to monitor your journey.
  5. Seek Enjoyment: Incorporate elements of fun or pleasure to sustain interest.
  6. Build Connections: Share your goals with others for support and accountability.

The Role Of Enjoyment And Connection

The habits you focus on can feel like you are having to be disciplined all the time and your inner self might become rebellious and sabotage your efforts.  It’s important therefore that you incorporate time for enjoyment, and making connections with others through this time. Without these, boredom can quickly derail our efforts. Enjoyment makes the process pleasurable, while connection with others provides support and accountability. This holistic approach ensures that the journey of habit change is as rewarding as the destination.

Deliberate Effort In Habit Formation

Creating new habits requires deliberate, conscious effort. It’s not enough to simply wish for change; one must actively work towards it. This involves breaking old patterns and enduring the discomfort of forging new ones. The effort is considerable, but the rewards of improved well-being and personal growth are immeasurable.

Changing habitual behaviour is a journey of self-discovery and discipline. By understanding the neuroscience behind habits, utilising practical tools, and embracing the process with enjoyment and connection, your ability to create lasting change is not just possible but inevitable.

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I help leaders develop self- mastery, helping them to become confident in their own inner guidance.

I collaborate with leadership experts, managers and HR professionals to help them get their own message and unique services and products to a wide audience.