trouble holding down habits? It's not you.

There's something off about habits. Have you noticed? Only a tiny handful of people actually stick to them. And the rest of us feel like undisciplined idiots. 

The truth is habits over a long period of time are very difficult to program. Why? It's simple: You're not a machine. It simply wouldn't make sense for you to do the exact same action, the exact same way, every single day of the year for the rest of your life. You're human! And I would argue another nuance as well: you're woman (which is awesome, by the way).

An overly structured way to design habits ignores the more fluid reality of being a woman; if you want to be gender neutral about it, what we might call our 'feminine flow' (which men also have).

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In 2015, what if you set habits that anticipated natural changes in our bodies, feelings, moods, and desires? Habits that give you space to be kind, compassionate, and flexible with yourself. Habits built on the art of self-knowledge and adaptability. 

Here are four principles that have made a major impact on how I now design my self-care practices:

1. Build In Choice

Let's say I have the habit of eating a protein-packed breakfast everyday: protein smoothie, eggs, or almond butter on quinoa toast. And depending on how I feel that day, I choose one from the menu. My habit is: protein-packed breakfast. But everyday, I get the power to choose a variation. Some people argue it's better to reduce the cognitive load and just do the same thing everyday – but not I! I'll get bored. And I need a little more fluidity. I couldn't imagine eating the same exact thing for breakfast everyday. 

2. Align Habits With Desired Feelings

Here's the amazing truth: we're all really pursuing internal states, not goals or habits. If a habit is not aligned with a certain way you want to feel, it will feel like an uphill battle. {Tweet this} Aligning habits with desires is about moving with the natural current, instead of pushing against it. Personally, one of my desired feelings is to feel fresh– and when I remember that my hygiene habits ultimately produce this feeling, I find it much easier to sustain them. 

3. Synch Habits with Your Natural Rhythms  

When your motivation is high, it's easier to stick with habits. When your motivation is low, it's harder. And your motivation is constantly changing, right? We could call this change "a motivation wave." As a woman, my hormones greatly affect my motivation wave. I recommend identifying your daily and monthly motivation waves. Grab a pen and paper for this two-minute exercise.

Daily motivation wave: When do you feel highly motivated during your day? When do you feel the least motivated? Graph out your daily motivation wave. 

Monthly motivation wave: When do you feel highly motivated during your cycle? When do you feel the least motivated? Graph out your monthly motivation wave. 

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4. Turn Habits Up and Down

Instead of doing the exact same behavior everyday, I like to turn my habits up and down based on my motivation. Habits don't have to be all-or-nothing, but could lie on a spectrum. {Tweet thisAnother two-minute exercise that builds on the last one you just did.

Step 1: Write down a habit you would like to start this year

Step 2: Design A Spectrum for this Habit

High motivation: What's the fullest and ideal expression of this habit you could do? For example: a 90 minute yoga class. Mid motivation: What's a less intense version of this habit you could do? Cut the habit in half in terms of energy, time, or skill level required. For example: a 30 minute gentle yoga practice at home. Low motivation: What's the easiest smallest version of this habit you could do? Make it ridiculously small so that you would complete it even if you felt like absolute crap. For example: 1 sun salutation at home.  

Step 3: Plot it on A motivation wave from Principle #3

Take your daily level graph from Principle #3 and plot this habit on different parts of your wave. For example, if you are the most motivated in your morning, it might make sense to put your 90 minute yoga class there. At night, you would probably want to plot your 1 salutation at home. 

Conclusion

In sum, every day is different. Every day we are different and that's the beauty. Instead of forcing yourself into a structure, find what comes naturally. Find more balance and ease when creating change in your life. {Tweet this}

Take Action

  • Workshop a habit if you haven't already done so! Put it into action and let me know how it goes. 
  • Comment below. How was this article useful and insightful for you? I would love to hear from you. 

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