Who has a habit they want to stop, or a new habit they want to start? When we want to change any type of behavior, it’s worth remembering we are doing a form of rewiring and it’s likely to be hard. Our brain loves doing the same thing, it’s very energy efficient to do so (imagine messages being able to travel along a line thats already there compared to laying a new line) and so stopping that, or doing something else requires some clever thinking ahead of time. However the brain does love a game, a challenge (smart phone app developers bank on it) , so use this natural proclivity to get what you want, instead of the next highest score on Candy Crush....
As some of you may know, I set myself up this past week with a 'game of visibility' on Facebook. I gave myself the challenge of doing a Facebook Live video every day for 7 days. I knew for a while that at some point in my business, I wanted to make videos, and yet I was paralyzed by fear, of not saying the right thing, of not knowing what to talk about, of people not liking it, of no-one watching….all good reasons not to do it. But also not doing it was having me feel like a loser (anyone relate?), so I decided to make a game of it so I could get out of my own way and do what I knew I truly wanted to do.
What I learned about a good game:
- Set a time limit for your ‘game’. It might be "I’ll go to my yoga class 3 times this week", or “I’ll clean the bathroom for 10 minutes”, or “I won’t eat cookies on the sofa after 8pm”. Having a clear time limit helps the brain relax. I know I don’t have to do FB Lives every day for the rest of my life, (just 2 more days!), and that feels good!
- Socialize it. Accountability helps with changing habits. We are social beings and aren’t meant to ‘go it alone’, so you’ll often see this advice from me. This could be inviting someone along to the class you want to take, or texting someone when you get out of bed 10 mins earlier. In my game, this was announcing at the start of my first video that I would be doing it for 7 days and thus I didn't want to flake on that.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. We often give ourselves SUCH a hard time for the habits we have, and for what we don’t do, and that in itself makes changing it harder, not easier. Beating ourselves up is mentally exhausting and as I mentioned above, changing habits takes a LOT of effort so don’t waste your precious energy on feeling bad. Keep thinking like you would in a game- change your tactics, try something new. I did my videos outside in nature to take the pressure off ‘having a professional looking environment”. How can you make changing your habit feel lighter?
Having ways to play with life is critical - we aren't built for the lives we are living and overwhelm and anxiety are natural reactions to that. Having ways to interact with the world and ourselves that make use of our natural tendencies is both liberating and way more fun. Have at it!