Back to school is the perfect time to create new habits
Major life events often bring a catalyst for change – new houses, relationship breakdowns, a health scare, a new job or even new friends can trigger an opportunity to change our habits. New situations and environments invite a fresh outlook which we can mold new habits to, but we don’t have to wait for a major life event to initiate change, even smaller, seemingly unobvious chances that present themselves can be leveraged to your advantage, you just have to be aware of them.
I am a creature of habit. I have followed the same work routine for ten years. Same train carriage, same seat, same walking route to work, same desk, standing on the exact same paver each afternoon where I know the train doors will open right in front of me.
Even the assessments I conduct at work have to be the same for continuity and reliability. Habit and routine suit me but when I recently returned to work after a 4 month break I had the overwhelming sense of groundhog day after the first day back so I decided to use it as a perfect opportunity to try and change my routine habits a little, to stop the feeling of returning to work being such a drag. (No offence to the people I work with).
Instead of automatically heading to the first carriage on the train I am turning right and choosing a carriage somewhere in the middle, a different seat each day. It doesn’t seem like much, but if I am not thinking of this decision each morning as I tag on, my feet are already taking me to the left and I have to turn around and head in the opposite direction.
I’ve changed the walking route from the station to work so that I don’t go past my favourite coffee shop and be tempted to buy a coffee. I am stopping the habit of the daily coffee purchase, potentially saving me around $27 a week and I am utilizing the free machine at work to resist any offers for coffee walks around the mid-morning tea break.
Although only small changes, they have helped to bring a renewed interest in my commute to work each morning. I have to think about what I’m doing but at the same time, since it has been so long since I was deep in the old routine I found it relatively easy and it has me thinking about how fresh starts do bring the potential for new habits and routines to be easier to implement.
School holidays are almost over, kids will be going back to school, some of us will be returning to work or study and everyone will be building new routines for the year, consciously or unconsciously. After this 6 week break from your routine in 2016, NOW is the time to think about the new habits you would like to instill in this new year.
So before your routine is set for the coming year, think of the habits you would like to create and implement into your life, because after all, a routine is just a series of habits.
After making a list, look at your schedule and find opportunities where you could potentially start implementing these new habits around the activities that are already set – work, school, kids after school activities. Identify times where you may be able to double up, for example, walking around the park while the kids are at dancing, rather than sitting in the car on your phone. (One of the biggest productivity killers and time wasters of this era).
If there is absolutely no time anywhere, make a list of where you are spending your time, ranking from most important to least. Do away with the things are least important to you to make more time for what is.
Plan and be prepared. What supports, resources, help or cues do you need to start these new habits? Make sure you are ready to give yourself the best chance of success.
Be prepared for it to take discipline to get started and to keep going. Be mindful of what you are trying to do and use the fresh start to your advantage. The sooner you try to instill these new habits the more malleable your new routine will be in allowing you to bend, shift and shape your way of living to reflect what it is that you want and what is important to you.
We can start new habits at any time, but any head start or opportunity that allows less resistance when trying to start something new is a bonus that should be seized upon and now is the time to seize the day and create some new healthy habits.