Welcome to the Own You Podcast, where we chat all things healthy habits and self-improvement.
I'm your host, Angela Jones, and my purpose is to remind you just how much control and
power you have over your life.
I've stepped into this by focusing on mastering my own daily habits, and I couldn't believe
the positive effects it had on life.
If you're ready to take the reins, surprise yourself by your own potential, and create
a life you've only dreamed of, then you've come to the right place.
Own your habits, own your life, own you.
Let's get started.
Hello, and welcome back to the Own You Podcast.
Today we are going to be talking about kind of where to start if you're feeling overwhelmed
or if you're just starting out.
Now I've talked about starting small and focusing on a really obvious prompt to remind you of
your habit, but what do those mean exactly?
Let's break it down further.
First off, let's start with starting small.
Starting small may sound simple, but there are a few different directions that this can
go actually, and understanding the different ways to start small will help you to craft
a habit in the very beginning before you even start.
When I say start small, it doesn't mean an easy, simple habit, although that would be
an option, of course.
What I mean is to take the habit that you want or the end goal you desire and break
it down to a tiny bite-sized habit to start with.
Now this can be achieved one of two ways.
It can be a starter habit, which is the first step in an action, or a scaled down version
of a larger, more complex habit.
So let's look at some examples so that these make sense.
Say you want to develop a daily walking habit.
Now this was actually a New Year's resolution of mine last year, and I highly recommend
it beyond the exercise benefits.
It also is a great way of getting out, taking a break from work, getting some sunshine.
It just felt like a lovely little break in my afternoon.
Anyways, this would be a great case for using a starter habit.
Say you're busy and going for a walk outside sounds tough to squeeze into your schedule,
but you want all the benefits you'd get from the habit, and honestly a break outside sounds
Utilizing a starter habit, you may opt to focus on something super simple that starts
out the habit.
So in this case, putting on your walking sneakers and that's it.
There will be days, even in the beginning, where going for a quick walk seems easy now.
It's the natural next step now that you're in your shoes, and there will be days when
all you do is put on the shoes.
No matter what, you're still checking off the habit you're focusing on, and those little
wins like that, even when you aren't leaving to actually walk, help you to continue to
show up and try.
Now naturally, believe it or not, this habit will grow and someday you will realize that
you can up the intensity of your intended habit.
Just focusing on putting on your sneakers is the first step.
Starting this way may feel insignificant or silly.
I know putting on your sneakers is not going for a walk, but that starter habit is setting
you up for your desired larger habit.
It's the first step in the sort of cascade of actions.
There is beauty in starting simple and growing from there once you've developed that consistency.
So that habit you desire, think about whether a starter habit might benefit you and help
you to begin.
I want to encourage you to experiment as well, because you never know when a technique might
help you nail a new habit.
So don't knock it till you try it.
Approach this whole process as if you're designing a science experiment and you're just playing
with different variables.
Sometimes something that maybe you think is pointless or doesn't apply to you or your
habit, maybe that will be the one thing that hits it out of the park.
So the second option with starting small would be a scaled down version of a larger habit.
A great example of this that again, I have used personally is with working out.
I wanted a consistent fitness routine, but a workout class felt daunting and out of my
very out of shape reach at the time.
So instead I set a goal to do just five minutes of online yoga at home each day.
Now that felt so small and insignificant and at the time it didn't feel like that would
grow into anything more.
There were days I practiced for longer and there were days that five minutes felt like
a stretch, but doing this, I created the consistent base on which I could expand.
If you're hearing meowing, that is our neighbor's cat.
So five minutes became 10 minutes, which eventually became an hour.
And that didn't happen overnight, but I can guarantee it wouldn't have happened at all
had I not started small with a scaled back version to give myself some little wins.
Both of these techniques also help you prevent frustration or from feeling discouraged, which
I know I've mentioned is the fast lane to quitting.
Start small, get fancy later.
It's a much easier way to grow.
So maybe a scaled down habit is a way you can tackle that habit you've got in mind.
Think about a shorter or easier version of your intended habit and try it out.
Again, embrace experimentation here and have fun with it.
The next thing to think about when starting out is the prompt.
The prompt is also known as the cue or the trigger.
This is the first step of the habit loop that reminds you or kicks off the habit itself.
I've talked about setting reminders so that your habit becomes super obvious.
The way in which you prompt yourself could actually be more important than you even realize.
Let me tell you a story.
I used to work in a busy hospital.
If you've ever walked the halls of a hospital, you have likely heard all kinds of beeping,
alarms, phones ringing.
It is not known as a quiet place to sleep, that's for sure.
When I first started my career in medicine, I heard everything.
I remember thinking other staff were rude or lazy ignoring alarms and beeping and it
honestly drove me a little crazy.
I couldn't understand how some people could just tune out all of that noise.
A few years later, all kinds of research was being done on what researchers called alarm
fatigue, which is essentially the medical version of the boy who cried wolf.
If we hear alarms all day, every day, the alarm we really need to hear won't sound
special or unique and will be ignored like 95% of the rest.
So what they started to realize was that alarming for all kinds of reasons was making it near
impossible to recognize life-threatening situations.
So what they did was try to eliminate benign alarms so that when an alarm went off, you
knew it was important and you heard it.
This of course had a cascade of other benefits including better sleep for patients.
So why am I telling you about alarm fatigue in the hospital?
Well if your desk is covered in post-it notes and you write another note to remember your
habit focus, you are creating desk alarm fatigue.
You don't want your prompt or cue to get lost in a sea of other prompts.
For this reason, you may want to get a little creative.
Maybe it could be a context prompt, which would be saying an affirmation every time
you stopped at a red light.
Being in that context in that specific situation reminds you to do that habit.
Or maybe it's an action prompt, like doing three jumping jacks after you finish breakfast
The action of finishing breakfast prompts you to do the jumping jacks.
Phone alarms and post-it notes will only help if you are not already bombarded with those.
So you want your prompt to be obvious and stand out.
Don't give yourself alarm fatigue.
Make sure that the alarm, aka the prompt or cue or trigger, make sure it's obvious and
that you actually quote unquote hear it.
Use this lesson from the hospital to help you design your own prompts.
So again, thinking back to the habit focus that you're currently thinking about, think
about what kind of prompt is maybe a little different from prompts you already use.
Maybe we'll stand out as more special or obvious.
And again, experiment here.
Try different techniques.
See what maybe sticks and forget the rest.
Being flexible and approaching this as an experiment will help you to sort of adjust
and customize as needed and gives you an increased chance of this actually working out.
So like I've said a million times before, start small.
And I give you two options of ways to tackle that.
Think about the habit that you are focusing on.
Think about whether a starter habit or a scaled down habit could help you.
And then make a clear prompt and try it out.
Some things won't work, but some things will.
And that's the beauty of this whole process.
As a reminder, if there is something that you'd like me to address, a question that
you have, or maybe a specific habit you want me to talk on, or a situation that you'd
like me to help resolve on this podcast, send me a DM, send me an email.
I am happy to hear any of your suggestions.
I would love to make this podcast as helpful and beneficial for you as I can.
I hope this helped.
And I will see you back here next week.