When we think about distractions, most of us immediately picture thumb scrolling through social media or apple news, binge watching netflix, and other non-impactful, brain candy kinds of endeavors.
Just the word distraction messages that there is something we would rather be doing. Distracted from what? For most of us, this is a mirky question that demands precision. This step of getting clear about how we desire to spend our life is not just an essential step in habit formation but it is a non-negotiable in wholehearted living.
The simplest and clearest way to do this is to write it down, carry it with you, read it daily, and continue to tweak until you have crystalized your intention & it feels like a giant YES! Nothing coalesces thought like putting it to paper.
Many of us have recently done this – set new year’s resolutions, created vision boards, journaled dreams….. The bigger question is now what?
Brain candy habits are addictions. Most habit theory teaches us a tactic of habit replacement. Habit replacement challenges us to drop one habit and replace it with something more powerful and high quality. It is fabulously simple however fails to recognize that the reason we engage in brain candy habits to begin is because it hits the pleasure center of our brain (hence the addiction).
While I may be over the moon enthused to journal each day as my replacement habit for social media trolling, journaling doesn’t set off my brain like a pinball machine of cotton candy exploding all over. SM trolling does. In fact, it is designed to do just that.
In addition to habit replacement, I have adopted the following tricks to build new habits:
- Write it down. Clarify, read it until it feels like it is a part of you.
- State it as if it is:
- Instead of: I commit to journaling every day for 15 minutes
- Use this: I am a journaler who, everyday, grows in life & invests in myself by writing.
- Say it out loud. A lot and to anyone who listens. Public accountability with people who love you helps.
- Write down and FEEL your why. Why does this new habit matter? Can you give it energy and life so that just thinking about it makes you excited? The theory of entrainment teaches us that whatever has the most vibrant energy (positive or negative) will likely influence actions and experiences. Your energy around this habit must be bigger than the burst of delight you get from SM trolling.
- Change what you do the moment you get up in the morning. I am a HUGE believer in this. Our old habits are part of a larger old pattern that fills our day. When we start our day exactly as we always have, we are inadvertently telling our brain to get back on the old tracks and start running. If you begin your day on a new track, you will find it easier to also shift old patterns later. Here’s an example:
- Old Pattern: Arise, Grab Coffee, Flip Through Phone, Go for a run, shower
- New Pattern: Arise, Take 10 deep breaths, write in gratitude journal, go for a run, grab coffee, and shower. Replaced distraction and reordered everything else.
What is your morning routine? What can you replace? Drop? Reorder?
Last of all & the step I always forget is to celebrate. You are up to something in your life! Acknowledge it! I’m curious to know how your 2019 is going thus far. Share your thoughts below.