Changing Habits

Ila Gartin

We’ve all done it. We try to change a habit and it just doesn’t stick. We try to start a gratitude practice instead of scrolling Instagram. We drink our daily Coke, knowing that water would be much healthier. We attempt to indulge in self-care Sunday, but when Sunday rolls around, we have too much left on the to-do list. We open the computer to read our favorite blog, but end up scrolling Facebook. We want to start exercising more often, but also…we don’t. We know we need to walk the dog daily, but Netflix is calling! 

So how do we change or build a habit? In the beginning, it’s difficult because it hasn’t been established within your routine, so you often forget about it until the timing to accomplish the task is off. In order to change this, you have to be very intentional about changing the habit and don’t overwhelm yourself trying to change too much at the same time. 

You probably have a morning routine, which is pretty similar each day. For example, you wake up, jump out of bed, pee, exercise right away, shower, eat a healthy breakfast, and get ready for work, all with plenty of time to spare in case there is traffic on your morning commute, right? 

No? That isn’t your current morning routine? But, you know that it could be, don’t you? If that’s what you want for your life, you can make it happen, simply by changing some habits, one at a time. Let’s look at a more likely morning routine: you wake up, hit snooze (3 times), jump out of bed, pee, rush to get ready for work, grab a carb bar disguised as a protein bar on your way out of the house, and get to work late because everyone else who’s running late is also on the road. Does that sound more like it?

I thought so. It’s okay, DO NOT beat yourself up for not having the best morning routine in the world. Each of those is a habit you’ve developed over time, most likely unintentionally and without thought. You’re not alone. Simply start where you are and commit to one small, positive change. Because these are habits, and they’re all stacked together in a routine, it is 100% changeable with some intention and effort. 

Let’s start with what affects the rest of your morning routine the most – in this example, it’s hitting the snooze button. It’s time to stop. Will it be difficult? Yes. Will you have to change your evening routine and go to bed earlier to accomplish this? Probably. Will it be worth it? Absolutely. 

First, you must acknowledge that the current habit is not serving you well. Acknowledge the why, as well. Hitting snooze is effing up your day from the get-go and creating chaos as soon as you wake up. Next, decide what your goal is – what WOULD serve you well – so you know how you’re changing this “bad” habit to a “good” habit. In this case, the goal will be to wake up feeling rested as soon as the *first* alarm goes off. 

Perhaps most importantly, you need to decide WHY this goal is important. Knowing why you want to change this habit and what it could mean for you if you did, is ESSENTIAL to success. No longer hitting snooze means you have more time (27 more minutes!) to accomplish necessary tasks in the morning. Maybe you’d even have time to add in some self-care each day. How luxurious would that be!? You would wake up peacefully and calmly, not within chaos. You’d have more time for habit stacking and changing more habits to benefit your body and soul. 

Now, what must happen to reach the goal? This is where you make solid, tangible changes to reach your goal in the easiest way possible. What would make it easier to wake up at the first alarm? How about changing the tone of your alarm? Make it something that doesn’t irritate you as soon as you hear it. Writing down your intention the night before helps you remember your goal first thing in the morning. Setting your alarm across the room or, even better, setting your phone (because we all know that’s your alarm) in the next room ensures you get out of bed. If you’re nervous you won’t hear it, that is NOT an excuse – try it on a weekend so you can make adjustments in volume if needed. How about having an accountability partner? Talk with someone in your family or a friend who will hold you accountable and ask how your morning was without hitting snooze. 

This last step is where it’s important to know a little about yourself. Knowing how to motivate yourself is key for so many challenges in life. In changing my own snoozing practice, I knew I HATED the sound of that annoying, blaring alarm. Changing mine to a quiet, cheerful tune helped immensely. In the beginning, I had a written reminder beside my bed each night that I wanted to wake up earlier, more cheerful, and with some time to spare, so I fell asleep each night thinking about the goal. Perhaps the most motivating thing for me was the fact that I didn’t want to wake my husband multiple times in the morning, so getting out of bed and shutting off the alarm the first time was the most likely way to do that. Ultimately, you must find what means the most to YOU.

The process of acknowledging how and why your current habit isn’t serving you, deciding what your goal habit is, realizing the true reasons it is important to you, and making small and simple changes to make reaching the goal as easy as possible may seem like a lot of steps for changing one little habit. But, has any other technique worked for you before? No? It’s time to try something intentional and rational. 

It’s time to change that bad habit and start being who you want to be instead of just dreaming about it! Let’s get started, friends.

  • What habit are you trying to change?
  • What are some ideas you have to make the change easier?
  • Has this process been successful for you?

Leave a comment and let us know if you need any help with this process!

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