Don’t Rock The Boat

January 24, 2022

By Meghan Greenwood

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Everyday we wake up and likely go through a morning routine. We get dressed, eat breakfast, and brush our teeth (at least, I hope so). The mental energy needed to complete these tasks is minimal. We do them without much thought. We’re almost on autopilot. And if you’re anything like me, if I can’t complete this morning routine, I feel ‘off’ all day long. It’s quite established.

At the beginning of the year, we set purposeful intentions. There were new things we wanted to get done and better day-to-day choices we wished to make. But 24 days into January, we may already be feeling less motivated. Change seems hard. While we may have had a lot of energy on January 1st, we’re kind of over it by now. It’s just easier to stick to what’s established.

Alas, that IS the answer. Established routines and habits are so engrained that they usually don’t add stress to our busy lives. They don’t rock the boat. In fact, as coined by Dr. BJ Fogg, they are ‘anchor’ habits – things we do everyday without thinking twice. So, in order to add something new, we need to hook it to our anchor. We can’t implement a new habit that will capsize the boat.

For example, say that you want to start increasing your flexibility. As soon as the alarm goes off in the morning, try stretching for a few seconds before getting out of bed. As also made famous by Dr. Fogg, tiny habits are all you need to start laying the groundwork for successful improvements. A few seconds will do the trick.

Maybe you want to lose weight? At the start of every meal, you could drink 8 ounces of water to fill your tummy or start with the most healthy option on your plate first (to also fill your belly). You’re already seated at the table; a simple glass of H2O or switch of your eating order could provide satiating cues to your brain quicker, effectively lessening the amount of food you consume.

Or maybe you want to get stronger? As soon as you brush your teeth, do 10 wall push-ups. It’ll take a few seconds and work to build your muscles.

I encourage you to think of some anchor habits in your life – things you do everyday that maybe don’t even register as a habit (because they’re SO habitual). Come up with at least 3. Then hook something new to those anchors that takes less than 30 seconds, at least to start. Think of small tasks that will ultimately help you reach larger goals.

Every little bit counts – and attaching them to your anchors, instead of creating rocky waters, significantly increases the likelihood they’ll get done.


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