Many of us want to change a habit. We want to lose weight, procrastinate less, stop smoking, exercise more, be more disciplined about our spending, get less irritated with people, and so on.
Instead of tackling a new change head on, you can start to exercise your self-discipline muscle in small, consistent ways that don’t seem obvious. For example, if I’m trying to get myself to spend less money, I can build my discipline muscle by resisting my chocolate craving by 10 minutes.
In other words, if you practice changing one habit, it can carry over to changing another habit. This builds a base from which to make other changes. If you teach yourself to wait to eat the chocolate, you are teaching yourself to control an impulse. If you keep this up, you build increased ability to resist the urge to do things the old way. You can start by pushing back against a small established habit.
- Spend 5 minutes thinking about tomorrow’s projects
- Resist checking emails or texts for a couple of minutes when you normally would
- Stall for five minutes when you want a snack, coffee, cigarette or game of “Angry Birds”
- Park slightly farther away in the lot
- Take a different route to work
- Brush your teeth with your opposite hand
- Turn off the radio, music and TV and allow your world to be quiet for a few minutes while exercising, driving or walking
There are countless other possibilities; try ideas that feel interesting or of value. Just keep them small and easy to do. The idea is to practice light repetitions that require increased focus; don’t strain yourself.
If you want to increase performance on the job, in a sport, or in your personal life, we can help you stay on track.