Hello hello hello! How are you today?
Everyone recovered from Thanksgiving?
Hopefully you had a wonderful time.
I am actually recording this podcast before Thanksgiving but I am sure I had a great time – because I am deciding ahead of time to do so. Fascinating how you can do that right?
Today we are actually talking about habits and the importance of deciding ahead of time.
A habit is defined as a regular tendency, or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. Ding ding ding – drinking!
We have all sorts of habits right? Some of them are great for us and some not so hot.
And a lot of times we beat ourselves up for some of these habits – which, I want to point out, doesn’t help change them any faster.
The thing is – having a habit is simply a sign the brain is working as it was designed.
Nothing has gone wrong.
So, for me having my coffee in the morning is for sure the first habit I think of – a MUST. Brushing your teeth, and taking a shower, or example – in my opinion..lol.. are pretty good habits. They serve you (and the rest of us) well.
But there are also habits that we have practiced over the years that are not so hot, and we want to change, but at times it may seem impossible. Like when you say you want to have one glass of wine tonight and then you end up drinking 3 or 4 and you are like – what is going on?
Why can’t I stop?
It seems impossible, but I promise you it is not, and doing this work is the answer.
Before we go too far I want to remind you that everything we do in life – we do because of how we think it will make us feel. If you missed episode 3 go back and take a quick listen. What I mean is – let’s say you are buying a vacation package. Why do you do that? Perhaps because you think when you go on vacation you will be able to escape and feel more relaxed.
Perhaps you think you will enjoy time with your family, maybe rekindle some love… with some .. .shall we say… “date nights”..lol.. You get the idea.. getting and feeling your “sexy” back..lol….
The vacation is not just about the destination. It is how we are going to feel when we are there.
So how does this relate to our habits?
When we have a habit we go on automatic pilot, life is good – we are feeling comfortable.
Our brain loves to feel comfortable..
But is it REALLY comfortable? Because when we struggle with the regret after the fact that doesn’t feel so comfortable right?
When I first started this work that’s really what the tipping point was. Sure I enjoyed my wine, but I was just so tired of thinking there has to be more to life.
I didn’t want to keep waking up thinking I shouldn’t have had that last glass.
So, I promise you – Changing a habit is 100% possible, but it is going to mean you have to get out of your efficient brain, and be willing to be uncomfortable as you go through the process.
But you can handle uncomfortable.
It is also going to require energy because in the moment your brain is always going to want to go to what it knows as familiar, and what feels comfortable.
That’s why deciding ahead of time – having a drink plan like we discussed in episode 4 – is so important.
Here’s what typically happens. We wake up and go on auto pilot and create our life based on past experiences. How often do you find yourself saying – I’ve never been able to cut back on drinking. As if that is just a fact.
And the reason it seems like a fact is because we tell ourselves that over and over.
But notice how that feels when you tell yourself that?
If I think that, I feel discouraged.
And then notice what happens – It’s like, ok, I’ve never been able to do this so why bother and then you create the same outcomes, which reaffirms what you think.
So in order to break the habit you need to begin thinking a new thought.
Don’t forget though – in earlier episode we’ve talked about he importance of becoming aware of what you are currently thinking. Don’t glaze over that.
You will see the most benefit when you take the time to become aware of what is going on it that brain of yours. So often we just go about our lives unconsciously. This step is super important.
Once you start becoming aware of what you are thinking you can start deciding to make some decisions ahead of time. For example- I only drink when I plan 24 hours in advance. I only drink what is on my plan. I will no longer beat myself up.
This allows you to create decisions from a conscious and deliberate place.
When you do it in advance you are not working on will power and resistance. Practicing this over and over builds a new neural pathway, which will eventually become a new habit for you.
Also, when you make these decisions ahead of time, you agree to honor them for your own benefit.
See – when you make decisions ahead of time it keeps your pre-frontal cortex in charge. Using the managing part of your brain is what will bring about change. Practicing the decisions ahead of time is what will bring about lasting change.
Deciding in advance reduces decision fatigue at the end of the day – which is typically where we end up and say F- it – I just want my drink.
Now, when your lizard brain, or lower brain, wants to go there – and it will – …. You can recognize it is simply doing what is knows to be efficient and comfortable.
Nothing has gone wrong.
But you also know you have decided ahead of time, and something different is going to happen this time, and you honor those decisions you made ahead of time.
This is the important part when you are allowing urges. We’ve talked about the importance of allowing urges. This is where deciding ahead of time will come into play. Let’s say you are deciding ahead of time to only drink on your plan.
Now remember – we talked about starting where you are at when you make the drink plan.
Let’s say you started with what you were currently drinking, and now you want to drop it down a night or two. Your brain is going to want to tell you all the reasons you should go ahead and have that extra drink off plan.
But you have decided in advance that you are only drinking on plan.
You can sit with the urge – and be compassionate – remind yourself this is for your benefit. And you decided in advance with the part of your brain – the pre frontal cortex – that knows it is all for the next best version of who you want to become.
And honor the commitment you have made to yourself.
The other benefit from deciding ahead of time is when you decide ahead of time, and honor the commitment, you gain so much freedom because you don’t have to have all the negotiations with yourself. It’s amazing the time you get back when you drop all those stories.
So this week I encourage you to starting weighing some options as you begin considering the decisions you want to make ahead of time. Feel free to use what I’ve offered to begin, and of course come up with some that are important to you.
You know how to do this stuff. I am sure you make decisions in advance for work all the time. And you stick to them because you know you are building on a goal or project that needs to be accomplished.
Same thing here. The difference is – you are building the relationship you have with yourself. That my friend is what will help you build the life you imagine.
Ok – that’s what I have for you today. Oh – one last thing about habits – you know a simple way to get in the habit of joining me each week? Hit subscribe – that way you get notified whenever I add an episode. Ok – Let’s circle back next week but for now – make it a great day – take care!