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Building new habits. - Say What? #31

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Hi everyone! Happy Lunar New Year! If you're in Malaysia, I hope you're enjoying the long weekend. D
 
January 26 · Issue #31 · View online
Say What?
Hi everyone!
Happy Lunar New Year! If you’re in Malaysia, I hope you’re enjoying the long weekend.
Don’t forget to also take care of your health, especially with the Corona virus outbreak happening out there. Drink lots of water, wash your hands often, bring tissues and hand sanitizer everywhere you go and try to avoid going to crowded places.
Today, I wanted to write about how you can train yourself to take up a new habit. This might be useful for people who, like me, may want to learn or try something new as our new year’s resolutions.

One of the newsletters that I subscribe to is James Clear’s 3-2-1 newsletter. He previously published a book called Atomic Habits, a book that talks about changing one’s habits and improve oneself. I haven’t had the chance to buy and read it yet, but I have enjoyed reading discussions on Twitter about it.
Recently, this particular discussion got my attention.
Chris Gaskill ✘ on Twitter: "Any of you read Atomic Habits by @JamesClear? If so, how have you been able to inmplement the material? Any tips, tricks, etc?"
From the replies, you can see that there are some common answers. For the sake of this issue, I want to focus on three common answers:
1) Starting small.
2) Make it easy to achieve your new habits.
3) The power of habit stacking.
If you’re wondering what the hell these mean, no worries. I’ll try to break it down in simpler terms for us to digest and work through together.
Start small and grow bigger.
We all have our own life goals, right? For instance, one of my life goals is to run a full marathon. Now, I’ve previously done a half-marathon, but that itself took a huge toll on me and I’m left thinking, “Oh shit, can I really complete a full marathon?
Sure, it sounds and feels overwhelming, but if you take that big goal and break it down into smaller, more achievable goals, you can train your body to build new habits that would help you overall to achieve your main goal.
Got Big Goals? Here's Why You Need to Think Small to Achieve Them | Inc.com Got Big Goals? Here's Why You Need to Think Small to Achieve Them | Inc.com
In my case, I may not get to run a full marathon any time soon. But, I can start small and train my body to adapt to running. This is one of the reasons why I set a goal to run a total of 150km within this year - it’s still an overwhelming goal for me, but still somewhat manageable if you think about it. And I’ve signed up for one 5km fun run, and will be signing up for a couple more fun runs throughout the year.
These are all ‘small goals’ that I’m taking to help myself build my running habit, and hopefully they will help me to accomplish my bigger goal, which is to run a full marathon. Hopefully, within a few years from now, I’ll be able to achieve it *fingers crossed*.
So, if you have a huge life goal you want to achieve, but feel like it’s a little too much for you to handle right now, think about ways in which you can break it down into smaller, more manageable goals.
Want to read 50 books in a year? Start small and aim to read one book per month.
Want to exercise and go to the gym every day? Start by spending 5-10 minutes stretching and doing light exercises every morning before you shower.
Want to save up money for your wedding / a house / a vacation? Start by putting aside RM1/RM5 every day.
It’ll take time, yes, but good things come to those who wait, no? Life’s all about planting the seeds, watering it every day for weeks or months before the trees bear the fruits. So, be patient and keep it up.
Help yourself to build the new habit.
As of this time of writing, I’ve been doing intermittent fasting for at least 120 days. When I first started back in September, I started off with a minimum of 12 hours of fasting (with 12 hours of ‘eating window’). I’ve now increased it to a minimum of 14 hours of fasting. However, I’ve done a total of 1972.6 hours of fasting, which gives me an average of 16.44 hours of fasting each day.
When I first started IF, it was hell. For someone who loved snacking and munching on food, it was so hard to control myself to not eat until it was my 'eating window’. However, I found ways to make it easier for me to control myself and get used to IF.
Some of the things that I did to help me are:
1) Getting help from my husband and my housemates. Aiman and my friends knew about my IF (one of our housemates was actually doing IF with me as well), so they knew that I wasn’t supposed to eat during my fasting hours. Aiman was supportive of this and would always be aware of the hours I can and cannot eat, which helps me to keep to my schedule.
2) No food in the bedroom. For people close to me, they can probably attest to the fact that I would always have a bar of chocolate with me in my bag. When I started IF, I tried to reduce the temptation to eat by getting rid of any snacks or chocolates around the room or my workplace. This helps me to focus my mind on other things (such as on writing), without being distracted by food and my hungry stomach.
3) Installing the Zero app. The app helps by allowing me to keep track of my fasts, reminding me to start and break my fasts, and giving me that extra boost of motivation to continue with IF. It also has articles and guidance around IF, and you get to share and connect with other people who are doing IF as well (not that I use it anyway).
Training yourself to try something new is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. There are steps that you can take to help ease yourself into the new habit.
Want to train your body to drink more water? Bring a bottle of water with you everywhere you go.
Want to learn to write better? Have a notebook on you everyday and write whenever you can.
Want to save more money? Automate your savings by setting up auto-deduction every month after getting your salary.
Find all the small little ways to help yourself get adapted to the new habit. Trick your mind by making it easier for you to try something new.
The power of habit stacking.
Habit stacking relies on the habits or routines that you currently already have in your life, and incorporating new habits on top of your current ones. This way, you can easily introduce a new habit or routine into one that you’re already familiar with.
Habit Stacking: How to Build New Habits by Taking Advantage of Old Ones
To do this, you need to first identify what new habits you want to take on, and how/where you can incorporate the new habits in your existing routines. Give yourself some triggers or specific moments/times in which you would do your new habits.
For instance, if you want to start a new habit to read more or listen to a new podcast, you might want to do it while you’re commuting to work. Or, while you’re lying around in bed in the morning before you hit the shower, you might want to use that 10-15 minutes to plan your schedule for the day, catch up on some emails or read the news.
When I was studying, I’d spend a few minutes every night before sleep to go over my to-do list and plan my schedule for the next day. This helps me to get in the mood and kick start the day easily.
Habit stacking, if done correctly, can greatly improve how you go about your days and help you to achieve more. Find ways where you can automate a lot of your habit (i.e. bringing a big bottle of water vs continuously filling up your small bottle every few hours) to save your time.
Could 'Habit Stacking' Be The Key To Better Results?
That's a wrap for now.
This seems like a long enough issue, so thank you if you managed to read it through to the end. I hope you’ve learnt something new today that you can use in your life as you try to take on a new habit this year. Who knows, if you can manage to keep it up for the rest of the year, you get to see a big improvement in your life by the end of the year?
And, as always, here’s a question for you to ponder on until I see you again in two weeks:
What is one new thing that you want to start doing in the next two weeks, and how would you start to do it?
Until next time, stay awesome and take care!
Love,
Nazu xx
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