We’ve discussed intention and creating a personal statement for why you want to create this new habit or routine, but another part of creating successful and sustainable behavior change is taking a look at mindset.
Intention is one thing, but mindset is a bit deeper and might take a little bit longer to adjust. First, a reminder that turning a new behavior into a habit or routine is difficult. It is not something that will happen overnight with little or no effort. I don’t say this to discourage you or dissuade you from trying to make a change. Rather, I want you to know it is not going to be easy and it is not supposed to be easy. Behavior change is difficult, and that’s okay. It is okay to have setbacks or miss a day as you work towards the creation of a new habit. It does not have to be perfect. You do not have to do it all at once. In fact, it will work better if you don’t try to make a massive change all at once.
It is important to think about your current mindset and what might need to change so that you’re not so hard on yourself, and you can successfully make a sustainable positive behavior change. Soon we will go through the steps for building and maintaining a new habit, but before we get started, here are a few more reminders and things to keep in mind as you begin the journey.
Remember to focus on what you have control over. You have control over how you spend your energy. You have control over your mindset and how you view your situation. You have control over your own behavior. You do not have control over what other people think or do. But you can make choices for yourself.
Let go of comparison. As I mentioned in the lesson on intention, it does not matter what other people are doing, it only matters what you are doing and why you are doing it. Our society is built upon comparison, particularly when it comes to health, fitness, and personal accomplishments. But it is important to let go of this comparison mindset so that you can focus on what is best for you. You are a unique and valuable individual, and what really matters is what works for you. So, when building your new habit or routine, don’t worry about whether someone is doing it differently than you or “better” than you. The only way that matters is your way.
It is also important to let go of dichotomous thinking. We tend to view the world as “good” or “bad”, one or the other, all or nothing. But this really limits our ability to think flexibly and look for options. Building a new habit or routine is not an all or nothing activity. If you miss one day, you can pick up again the next day. If one part of your new routine is not working for you, you can try something else. Looking for new choices and options requires opening up your mind to multiple possibilities and perspectives, which can be challenging when we are so used to only two sides or options. Try to catch yourself when you’re thinking with an all or nothing mindset.
Finally, it is important to give yourself credit and be kind to yourself. When you successfully complete a part of your new routine, celebrate! When you make a positive change in your behavior, cheer yourself on! It might seem hard at first or maybe kind of silly to say “You did it!” or “I’m proud of you” to yourself, but shifting your mindset to be more positive towards yourself and giving yourself credit for your accomplishments and the small steps you’re making towards positive behavior change will help you sustain a habit over the long term and improve your overall mindset.
To build a new habit or routine, you need a mindset that is flexible and primed for positivity. You need to let go of comparison to others and dichotomous thinking. Mindset changes are difficult and they will take time, but as you become more aware of your thoughts and the messages you give to yourself, you can begin to make small shifts. These small shifts will help reinforce your new habit as you celebrate your successes, look for multiple options, and focus on the things you can control.
Now that we’ve laid the groundwork of intention and mindset, we will next dive into how you go about building a new habit and routine.
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