Habit Change is Having a Moment


If you have a habit you'd like to change or one you'd like to add to your days, I highly recommend jumping on that, like now.


Why? I have just three words.


Habit Discontinuity Theory


What the heck is that?


When your daily routine is disrupted, by, let's say A PANDEMIC, there's a bunch of other things that potentially get disrupted as well: your habits.


And this is true for "good" habits as well as "bad" ones. Why? Because the environmental cues that we either crafted intentionally or just happen to be there, are often disrupted along with . . . the rest of your life.


If you're in lockdown, you can't go to the gym. But that doesn't mean you can't exercise. If you go to happy hour every night and then you can't, that also could go a few ways. Either you drink a lot less or you do your drinking at home (maybe more, maybe less). The point is that the habit is disrupted, and that creates the opening for something new.


Habit Discontinuity Theory (here's something fun to read about it, as well as here, and this podcast refers to it) means that there's a window of time during which habit change is easier than it usually is. That window of opportunity, which some research says extends around three months out beyond the disruptive event, is still wide open because, well . . . pandemic month 9+.


The How of Habit Change and Creation


Habits become automatic for a number of reasons, and an important one is environmental cues. People who are successful at creating habits and replacing habits craft their environments (this is kind of like choice architecture). They nudge themselves toward successful outcomes. They set themselves up for success. People who live closer to the gym go more frequently. People who hang out less with friends who drink a lot, drink a lot less than they used to. It's not magic or rocket science. With that said, it's also not easy, otherwise we'd all be our best selves right now, just as we would have been prior to the pandemic.


The biggest obstacle we have is that we're human, with human brains and emotions, and all kinds of memories and biases, and we make all kinds of assumptions, and we are all drawn to the negative, and to top it all off, there's this mythical thing called willpower that doesn't at all live up to its name. This is to say nothing of the other people around us who provide varying degrees of support. Clearly, we have more than one obstacle.


Habit Through the Lens of Identity (and vice versa)


Habit change and creation happen by accident all the time. We become who we are either by accident or on purpose. The first step to cultivating new patterns and ways of being is to figure out who you are now. That's your Point A. If you don't know where you are now, how do you know what you will need to most skillfully get where you want to go? This brings me to where you want to go - Point B. If you can't imagine what you look like, where you are, what you're surrounded by, and how you feel once you are or are at Point B, you likewise will find it difficult to create the kind of sustained change that deep personal evolution requires. Becoming who you want to become means being that kind of person, over and over again, with each decision, communication, and action.


What are your intentions, and what are your priorities?


Living your life on purpose is what we're talking about, here. Mindfulness is beneficial because it gives you the means to do all of this inner work. You don't need a special journal, an app, or a wearable. All you need to do is experience who you really are, decide who you want to be, and then begin being that person (she says, as if it's as easy as typing those words).


Join me on Zoom on January 7th--and PLEASE register, as space is limited.

If you are one of the over 475 people who are "Interested" and ACTUALLY want to attend,

you need to register, friends!


Have a peaceful New Year's Eve!

© 2020 by Mary Martin, Ph.D. 

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Jupiter, FL