After a week in California with our son and daughter-in-law for Christmas, eating every possible snack and treat that Costco could offer us, she asked me, “what does one do for self control… when you have none”?
The question was asked during our morning family walk and turned into an in-depth conversation about forming habits that stick, something that is very difficult for many of us.
We have already talked about the importance of not breaking a promise to yourself. But we didn’t exactly touch on how to make those promises easier to keep.
Because of this I want to spend the next few posts discussing how to make your habits stick.
You might wonder, since we focus on leadership in this blog, why we are discussing habits. It’s simple, your habits are what shape you as an individual and leader.
Our whole adolescent lives are filled with reward systems. We see it in our grandson who lives on reward systems. We see it in our school system where outstanding efforts are rewarded. It’s seen in high school with scholarships awarded. When the effort is invested the reward promptly follows. Strangely enough, when we reach a certain point, the rewards stop, and we just expect ourselves to form flawless habits and get great results without rewarding ourselves.
Wondering why your habit isn’t sticking? Maybe because your brain feels like it’s been overloaded. Expecting results with no hope of reward. Please know that I am not advocating the ‘everyone gets a trophy’ mentality…just the basic psychological principle of rewarding behavior you want to continue.
So our challenge this week: find a reward that will motivate you to make your habit stick.
I’d encourage these rewards to not be: once I lose 40 lbs I’ll buy a new pair of pants. But instead, every day I eat healthy I can put five dollars into my savings for a new wardrobe. Or, every time I work out at the gym I can watch my favorite show while on the treadmill.
End rewards are great, but little rewards along the way make habits that stick, and that’s the whole point.
Good luck this week!
Written by Emma and Karl Pister