Last weekend I presented “Authentic Living, Authentic Leadership” to the Minnesota Women of Today—what a wonderful group of caring, committed (and fun) women. Their support for each other was palpable in the room.
On an evaluation form, a participant asked how she could maintain her commitment and discipline with her health and fitness goals.
Creating and maintaining good habits can be challenging. It’s recommended that you repeat a behavior for at least 21 consecutive days to make it a habit. It takes that long to firm up the new neural pathway in your brain to support that behavior.
According one theory, we have a finite amount of energy each day in which it’s easy to make new decisions. With each additional new decision, this energy erodes. It’s harder to determine (and act on) a good course of action. Some scientists believe the more new decisions we have to make the harder it gets during a day. (Which may be why it’s easier to tackle new, hard things when we’re fresh, earlier in the day…)
That’s where habit comes in. It’s much easier for your brain and behavior to follow an established routine or habit (vs. make a new decision about whether or not to do something). It literally takes less brainpower to follow an old established neural pathway and behavior than to create a new one.
If you’re trying to establish a new habit or behavior, some behaviorists recommend that you act on it as soon as possible in your day, possibly right after you rise in the morning.
When I was learning to meditate, I would get out of bed and immediately go to my meditation chair. One of Deepak Chopra’s teachers called this the “RPM” approach: rise, pee, meditate!
If you’re trying to make a new behavior a habit, you might consider this approach. Make your desired behavior the first thing you do!
And may you pursue your path and develop healthy habits—