May 29, 2012

Do you BELIEVE you can change?

So I have started to download ibooks on my phone to listen to on the trip back and forth to work. It's my goal to get super smart from this and impress strangers at dinner parties with my quick wit and impressive intellect (while I sip my uber fashionable martini wearing a super slinky designer, I watch too many movies)... 

I am listening to this book "The Power of Habit; why we do what we do?".  It made me think about all the habits I have that I don't even think about anymore. According to the author and researchers abound, you can alter (or even change) the neural pathways of the brain as you start changing a habit. Pretty cool, eh?

But how to you start? Where do you begin?
And is it that easy just to do something different?

First off, it isn't easy. It will take awareness of what you are doing now and why you do it. What triggers the habit or behaviour you want to change? What rewards to you get from this habit? For me, my habit of coming home after work and flopping on the couch as I stuff my face with something (anything) is triggered by my need for downtime and my belief that I'm hungry (when really I'm not - I am just in the habit of snacking after work).  My reward for this is shutting off the world and filling up on peanut butter or Happy Cow cheese. I want to change this. I want to change my mindless snacking and sitting on my bum for hours after work.

So this week I did. I made it my goal to get in my biking gear after work (without touching the couch....standing near it or even looking at it) and biking.  Even if it was around the block; time and mileage wasn't the point. It was all about changing my habit. What happened? I didn't snack, I wasn't hungry, and I came home to stretch and make dinner without getting on the couch again. So far so good...although it's only been one day.

However, there is one factor in the change process that is necessary before change can occur (at least long term change).  It's the BELIEF that you can do it. How many times have you started on an exercise or eating plan and in the back of your head (hiding behind your medulla oblongatta or hippocampus...that's usually where you find it) is the doubt that you will be successful. This doubt is usually the product of failed attempts in your past and it's very hard to shake. So you start your new health regime with the small, irritating belief that you will fail and guess what? You fail.

Our beliefs and attitudes drive our behaviour no matter what it is. From eating, drinking, and exercising, to our relationships, communication and stress management (or lack thereof).  If you can change your beliefs, you can change the way you work in the world!

How can you become a believer? The first thing you can do is understand that your past does not determine your future. The second is recall what made you fall off the wagon and plan for that barrier in the future. If you can learn from your past you will be more confident and likely to succeed. The key is belief.

I believe I can take a long walk after work today instead of sitting on the couch. I believe I can hold off the snacking until dinner. I believe I can change my habit for the week at least. There's nothing wrong with going week to week and day by day. At risk of sounding like a Chinese fortune cookie; change always begins with just one step. It's cheezy but it's so true.

So take the step, believe you can do it, and start a new, healthy habit!



  1. This question is usually the item of unsuccessful efforts in your previous and it's very difficult to move. So you begin your new wellness program with the little, aggravating perception that you will fall short and think what? You fall short.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to comment, "Here".

    You are so right! I think it is the sheer awareness of this that could create more success than "failure".

    Hope to hear from you again.