You may not realise it, but your surroundings strongly influence your everyday behavior.
Research shows that people buy more items from shelves on eye-level than from lower shelves, and they’re more active when there are safe sidewalks in their neighborhood.
Basically, what’s right in front of you or easily available determines your default actions.
The good news is, this also means you can change your personal surroundings so they’ll encourage you to make healthier choices, effortlessly. As James Clear puts it: “To make good habits easier, reduce the number of steps to do them. To make bad habits harder, increase the number of steps between you and the habit.”
So how does that work?
– If you want to make healthier food choices, put a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter or place a bottle of water on your desk. Visual reminders. Hide your less healthy snacks in your top cupboard.
– Put your sneakers or yoga mat by the front door as a gentle ‘nudge’ to move your body more by walks outside or to meditate inside even for 10 minutes. It’s worth it.
– Put your sage, palo santo, feather, and abalone shell out where you will see it to remember to “smudge” your home every week to clear out all stagnant or heavy energy. Waft the the sage over yourself also, it feels good.
Use “If-Then” Planning to Overcome Obstacles:
The secret to successfully building habits is planning in advance how you’ll handle common barriers or unexpected events.
All you need is one simple formula: “If X happens, then I’ll do Y.”
Let’s say you’d like to feed your body more health-boosting, nutrient-rich foods. One way of making that happen is by setting a simple ‘rule’ for yourself that you stick: “If it’s a week night, then I’ll make a home cooked dinner with fresh ingredients.”
Creating a “behavioral chain” like that ties right in with what we discussed earlier about how habits work – linking a new, desired behavior to cues that already exist in your life. This also helps you stick to your intentions when your original plans fall through.
“If I’ve had an exhausting day and I’m really too tired to cook a nourishing dinner, then I’ll heat up a homemade freezer meal or eat the healthiest alternative available (instead of ordering pizza). Or order a salad on the side if I go out to eat.”
“If I can’t or don’t want to get to the gym today, then I will take a short walk by my house before I get home.” A leisurely 10 minute walk will reset and refresh you.
“If I’m too busy to do a long meditation or yoga session, then I will take 5 minutes with some privacy to deep breathe, visualize a soothing scene, and clear out my head.”
“If I don’t feel like cleaning my house today, then I will take 10 minutes to put some stuff away to feel accomplishment.” It really does feel good to do something no matter how small. Then no guilt or worry, move on positively with your evening.
“If I’m too overwhelmed to journal or to talk to a friend today, then I will read a favorite quote or writing that helps me to stay centered and calm.” Write a quote (or anything that helps you) on an index card or sticky note and place them in a few places in your home. Touch them when you read them daily. That physical action will help you remember the quote.
Start out small and simple, and with easy and realistic alternative actions. We are all natural creatures of habit, and fortunately it will only take 3 to 6 weeks to change any habit. We don’t have to do it perfectly just consistently to be successful. Be patient and positive with yourself.
Making “if-then” plans for anything in your life is one of the most effective ways to achieve any goal, from quitting alcohol and smoking, to taking better care of your daily responsibilities. So you decide ahead of time when and where you’ll perform your new healthy habit, and how you will overcome common obstacles like a lack of time and energy. Spring is a perfect time to start this.