When the same life patterns interfere with who you want to become
and what to do about it
We are the culmination of what we repeatedly do and habits are often the factors that make up this equation. However, habits are hard to break and we often find ourselves falling back into the same patterns.
Whether it is a conscious choice or not, these patterns can interfere with what you’re trying to achieve by changing it.
They are so ingrained in our modes of existing that will power alone isn’t enough to change it on its own. We need to something else to help us along the way, sort of liking training wheels to keep us on track while our new self solidifies into place.
So how do we get these training wheels?
Shift your identity
When we fall back into our old habits and routines, we are merely falling back into ourselves. To make the changes you want in your life permanent, you need to also shift your identity by being 100 percent committed.
A lot of us make the mistake of committing to 1 week or 30 days challenges to lose weight, save money, get tidy, have gym bodies, become healthy, wake up earlier or any other thing that’s supposed to change our lives. But the associated life-changing promises won’t materialize unless you become that person full time.
What’s the point of eating healthy for 30 days if you’re going to go back to your diet of soda and crips? What’s the point of joining up to the gym or going on a diet if you will eventually return to how you were before. Why commit when whatever gains you make will quickly be lost?
Not many people think of it in this manner and commit themselves to the process of change without actually achieving anything significant. At the end of the arbitrary timeframe, it’ll all go back to how it was before.
The ‘change’ is only superficial and only becomes real when you shift your identity and become the person you want to be without excuses.
Want to be a morning person? Wake up without complaint. Do it before any thoughts hit your head.
Want to be healthy human? Educate yourself on what ‘healthy’ actually means. Sometimes, we are the way we are is due to lack of awareness and understanding. Sometimes, we fail when we try to change because the knowledge we have is incorrect or incomplete. The healthiest among us tend to know more about food, nutrition and, exercise than the average person.
For real change to occur, you need to change who you are at the core.
Transform your environment to transform your habits
Our habits are often prompted by our physical environment. It is also the precursor for how we feel, the friction and flow for the way we perform our automated tasks, and impacts on the instant moment choices we make.
Do you have a chair in your room where every item of clothing seems to find its way on? Why do we do this? Because it’s easy. Or maybe we’re missing a nearby hamper so we justify and compromise with the chair?
Or perhaps you hit snooze on your alarm in the morning because the blaring noise is so intrusive on your peaceful sleep? Or perhaps it makes you feel angry that it’s morning already.
Or maybe you find yourself snacking at midnight on the food you’re not supposed to be eating? Just one more packet of chips and a can of soda, you tell yourself.
When you remove or resolve the offending issue, you transform your environment enough to instigate a different reaction. Put a hamper in your room and see what happens if you have the chair problem. Change the way your alarm goes off if the sound annoys you. There are apps out there that do gentle wake-ups to the sound of birds (or your favorite song). If you’re working on becoming a healthy human, why do you even have crips and soda in the house?
Changing your environment doesn’t mean go and splash out on IKEA. It’s a process of recognizing things you want to change and going deep into the root of why you do them. Only then can you change your environment to transform your habits.
Change the type of routines you have to transform your life patterns
Routines are what make up the bulk of our day. It is a series of actions strung together to form a particular way of operating. Sometimes, that routine is effective and creates efficient results. Other times, it’s not so good because it’s peppered by habits that don’t add value to your overall well being.
Routines and habits feed into each other, creating a vicious cycle if it happens to be a negative one. To end this issue, you need to prompt your routines down a different trajectory. By doing this, you are setting yourself up on a different course of actioning out your life.
You can do this by removing obstacles towards the kind of day you want and create barriers towards the things you don’t want to happen. It’s a bigger kind of transformation that requires you to change a sequence of things or thoughts.
Sometimes you’ll fail to perform this sequence because it’s not practical or feasible for your situation. When you fail, you need to look at the systems you created for yourself and assess why you failed them. It’s not because you didn’t have the willpower to perform them, rather it’s because the system is unsustainable for whatever reason.
Consistently review and recalibrate
Not everyone is going to be able to shift their right onto their new and committed identities the first time round — but the important part is that you have an end goal. How you become and materialize this person is a process. Often it’s a process of trial and error.
When you consistently review your patterns and how it contributes to your overall journey, you become aware of areas that can do with improvements and how to incrementally add to the final identity you are to become. Changing the patterns in your life is more than just desire with no real anchorage but a consistent movement towards your future self.
In your mind, you need to be that person while the physical world around you catches up. Becoming that person is also the act of learning who that person is, what they stand for, why they do the things they do and how they go about doing it. It’s all part of the 100 percent commitment to yourself.
To shift the patterns that make us who we are, we also need to shift who we are as a person. There are no cheat days and no limited-time challenge. You are either this new person or you’re not — no excuses.
When we fail to change our patterns, it’s often because what we try to replace it with has too much friction to perform successfully on a consistent basis. As humans, we throw a lot of things in the too hard basket, even when you think you’ve taken that basket away. Rather, you need to make it so easy and possible that you never reach the ‘too hard’ phase at all.
Ingrained patterns are effortless for us to perform because they’re easy. To change your patterns, you need to switch it for something that’s equally easy, if not easier, to perform.