At the Congress Bridge in Austin, every evening at dusk bats emerge from the bridge for their nightly flight swirling through the sky. Tourist gather on the banks nearby to watch this evening ritual and routine for them. This happens every single day, and is one of my favorite evening activities when I get to go to Austin. They are creatures of habit.
Being a creature of habit is a good thing… if your habits are healthy. Are you a creature of the couch or of the track? I know which one I want to be!
People are nature’s number one creature of habit. Our brains seek to make things easy by carving habits, so we aren’t constantly making and pushing decisions, which is exhausting. Habits are comfortable, and help us avoid the work and fear of changes. Sometimes you got to bite the bullet and make a clean break from the past to start a new beginning.
Your Habits Rule You
In the moment, you don’t think to make a choice. Your brain and body rely on the habits you’ve created to know what to do next. Now, if this is true, you better make sure that your habits are good habits – as opposed to eating potato chips in bed every night. That would fall under the “Bad Habits” category.
“Not choice, but habit, rules the unreflecting herd. – William Woodsworth”
It’s understandable that we stick to our habits. Change activates fear, and fear triggers negative emotions that will stop us in our tracks.
Even if you don’t fully embrace a new lifestyle yet, you can start living the habits of the healthy person you want to be. And then suddenly, one day you will actually be that healthy person.
What Are Your Non-Negotiables?
Make your good habits non-negotiable. Even if they’re not fully part of your life yet, live them, feel them, dream them, and when you finally become a healthy individual, you’re already owning it!
At home, I exercise regularly, but I have to make a definitive, non-negotiable schedule for my exercise time. This appointment is like all others – it does not get cancelled. How can you schedule exercise into your day? If it’s important to you, you will find the way. If it’s not important to you, you will find an excuse. It really is that simple!
For me that means exercise is how I start my day. If it’s later in the day, the odds of life interfering dramatically increases and so does my creativity with excuses.
If you have to cancel your exercise appointment (or whatever new habit you’ve committed to), make a point to look yourself in the mirror and explain why. Feel free to debate yourself. Here’s an example.
“Hi, Lisa, it’s Lisa! I can’t work out today because… uh… my kid’s sick! I mean, um, I don’t have time!”
“Oh, really, you don’t have time? Well, while you’re talking to me, couldn’t you be doing squats? How much time will you spend on Facebook today? How many leg lifts could you do while you’re cooking dinner?”
It’s so easy to incorporate fitness into your life if you’re willing to try that there really is no excuse.
Eating the healthy food in your fridge instead of grabbing food out is the same approach. Look yourself in the mirror and explain your choices out loud. Own them and see if your reasoning sounds quite as justifiable when you say it to your face.
Creating new habits does take effort and planning at first, but once you’ve implemented a consistent approach, they do become much, much easier habits to live by.