Chasing change is all about breaking out of your daily habits. Not your skincare or workout routine, but the habits you have fallen into that are not welcome or unconscious. By slowly removing unhealthy actions from your lifestyle, helpful and healthy routines can begin to take their place.
To break these habits, first nail down precisely what they are and why you want them removed. Have you pinpointed a specific bad habit that drags you down? Are you tired of the unconscious routines that have you moving through life with a zombie state of mind? Physically writing down what you want to improve on makes your goal seem more tangible and achievable. After writing down your mission, step two is to create a game plan.
Unfortunately, deciding that you want to chase change is the easy part; the actual process often seems rather unachievable. Breaking these habits down into two different categories helps you create a game plan that will bring your end goal into view. Let’s call these categories “unwelcomed” and “unconscious”.
Unwelcomed habits are the routines that we have in our daily lives that we know are unhealthy, but we just can’t seem to keep ourselves away from them. For some this might be overwhelming social media usage, and for others, it might be daily trips to Starbucks. The cold turkey method might seem doable, but it makes sliding back into these habits the only option besides success. Instead, make a game plan that has a staircase approach. By creating different steps you must make before reaching the end goal, if you have a bad day and fall back a step, you don’t end up returning all the way back to ground zero.
Now for unconscious habits, step one is identifying where these occur in our lives. Think about your daily routine; can you identify any moments when a zombie state of mind seems to take over? This could be biting your nails, being unaware of your surroundings during your walk home, or driving a route you drive every day without paying much attention to what you are doing. These habits not only create a monotone way of life, but they can also be dangerous. Sometimes one of the most complex parts of breaking an unconscious habit is identifying it. After identifying the habit, a stair-step approach like the one demonstrated below can be put into action.
Let’s use a phone addiction as an example. My game plan might look like this:
Goal: Reduce screen time from 6 hours a day to 3 hours a day
Step 1: Turn on black-and-white mode on your phone to make it less stimulating
Step 2: Start limiting your usage of your favorite apps
Step 3: Set a screen time limit for each day; maybe 4 or 5 hours
Step 4: After a week or so of success, turn down that screen time to 3 hours!
Step 5: See if you can shut off screen time and still remain in the 3-hour range.
When using the stair-step method, the trick to success is never letting yourself return back to ground zero. If you are going to fail, only let yourself go back one or two steps. When this happens, you might take a little longer to reach your goal, but you are still doing better than you were before!
Graphic by: Madison Wooderson