At this point in our series on making lasting changes, it's time to talk about the secret sauce: transforming your concrete, goal-focused objectives into rock-solid habits. Welcome to the world of dramatic repetition. repetition. repetition. repe... you get it.
Think of habits as bridges that connect your future aspirations to your daily actions. They're the rituals and routines that make lasting change feel like second nature. This is actually a pretty inspiring way to think: by remaining in the present through habits (remember mindfulness from part I?), you're helping yourself connect with a potential future "you" that is already on the other side of achieving your goals! Pretty cool. But... how do we actually build these bridges?
First off, start SMALL (seriously, small). Tiny changes might seem insignificant, but they're the building blocks of powerful habits. Whether it's a 5-minute meditation or a daily walk, these small actions pave the way for more significant transformations.
Consistency, our other companion from part I, comes back into focus here. It can be a tough pill to swallow, but it's really true: repetition is the key to habit formation. Like laying bricks to construct a bridge, performing your chosen habit regularly reinforces the pathway to change -- on a brain-science level, it also helps make these pathways easier to traverse In a nutshell, practicing something makes the effort it takes to practice that thing decrease over time.
Now, let's talk about triggers. Habits can form in response to (and be maintained by) specific cues. For example, if you found a banana on the kitchen counter every morning, it's going to be easier to eat that banana every day than it would be to cook an omelet. Think about how your environment may help to prompt your desired behavior (and how you might adapt your current environment to support new goal behaviors). A common example for someone who wants to take up running is leaving a pair of running shoes in front of the bedroom door. Developing goal-supporting triggers and environmental design can be a fun place to be creative in this process! You can use digital reminders ("Hey Siri, remind me to ______ every morning at 9:00."), physical signs and visual aids, or even enlist those you live with to help "trigger" a new pattern on the regular.
As we navigate self-perpetuating habit-building, remember that each small action is a step toward solidifying the bridge between where you're starting and where you want to go. And speaking of steps, be sure to stay tuned for the final part of this series next week: "Beyond Resolutions: Cultivating Sustainable Change through Life Design," where we'll explore how to infuse your habits with purpose and intention, making your bridge to lasting change stronger than ever.