How to Change a Habit
I’m going to tell you the story of how I ended up dancing in my kitchen, also known as how I shifted a years long habit of misalignment with my well-being.
Eight years ago, I owned a yoga studio (briefly). I was also working full time as a therapist in private practice. Given these roles, you might imagine that I was on point with my wellbeing habits. Instead, what I actually became was depleted, overworked, under-resourced, and addicted to busyness. Can you relate?
One of the biggest symptoms of my unhealthy relationship with my wellbeing is that I stopped cooking. This is noteworthy because since I was a young child, I cooked meals for myself, my family, my friends. I loved cooking. While I blamed my schedule and energy level for giving up cooking, it was actually symptomatic of a deep misalignment with myself and my wellbeing.
When you stop doing things you love, there is a strong likelihood that your wellbeing is out of alignment.
Fast forward to now, many years retired from the yoga studio and from my therapy practice, through many significant personal and professional changes and transitions, through momentous up-leveling of my wellbeing practices in many areas, and still, the habit of not cooking endured.
This is how it is with habits: we reinforce them over and over through our thoughts, actions/inactions, and behaviors, and they stick, until we reinforce a different habit.
I dabbled with cooking again last year, during the first few weeks of the pandemic, when I had a little more time available. But because I wasn’t actually committed to shifting the habit, and because I lacked consistency and structure with my efforts, it didn’t stick.
Habits don’t get formed or changed by happenstance; they get formed by consistent, intentional action.
Finally, I got tired of dismissing my love (and talent) for cooking, and determined that while I’m all about supporting local restaurants, my food delivery bill was getting out of hand. Plus, I craved the fulfilling act of preparing delicious meals, delighting my senses, and ultimately feeling deeply nourished through my own creations. So I did something different.
Here’s the thing about changing a habit: it requires that we do things differently.
Plain and simple. To create a different outcome, we must change our thoughts, actions, and behaviors. We must set up structures sufficient to withstand our resistance. In my case, my resistance shows up as: “I’m tired.” “I don’t want to go to the grocery store.” “I don’t know what to cook.” The structures I’ve set up for myself include a subscription to New York Times Cooking to receive specific easy to create recipes each week, grocery delivery to my home (thanks, Whole Foods!), and accountability through both my partner and my coach.
One more thing: assigning rewards to new actions can be extremely helpful for reinforcing those behaviors.
In this case, I receive lots of inherent rewards: delicious, nourishing meals; saving lots of dollars by preparing most of my own meals; my partner’s appreciation for my taking on some of the cooking duties; feeling proud of myself for being back in alignment with myself and my well-being; and tons of extra energy from being well nourished.
And that, friends, is how I ended up dancing in my kitchen. I just felt so damn good I had turn on the music and dance!
Your turn: what’s the habit you’d like to create or change, and what will you put into place to create the outcome you desire? Feel free to send me a message and share!