Forming Positive Habits
We talked about Atomic Habits by James Clear when we discussed disrupting the habit loop in order to stop a negative habit. He also outlines four key steps to building a positive habit:
Make it obvious
Set out clear intentions using this formula: “I will [BEHAVIOR] at [TIME] in [LOCATION.]” For example, “I will turn on the tea kettle at 8 p.m., after the kids go to bed, in the kitchen.” You can also use a tool called “habit stacking,” which means pairing the desired habit with an existing habit. If you want to learn to take vitamins, pair them with your existing morning cup of coffee. To make your desired habit obvious, make the cues—the triggers for the habit—obvious and in sight. Have your tea on the counter, keep your vitamins by your coffee pot, etc.
Make it attractive
When habit stacking, pair the desired habit with something you already love to do habitually. Find like minded people who participate in the same positive behaviors you want to engage in.
Make it easy
Decrease the number of steps it takes to perform your positive habit, make your home or environment welcoming of the habit, automate habits where you can.
Make it satisfying
Give yourself a positive reward for performing the habit, use a habit tracker to see your progress, don’t miss a habit twice in a row. (Pick it back up if you fail once.)
When building positive habits in living alcohol-free, small steps are important. If we try to change everything about every part of our day, we’ll quickly burn out and revert back to old habits. Instead, try changing one thing about your day at a time. For example, if you’re used to opening a bottle of wine when the kids go to bed, try turning on the kettle for some hot tea as soon as they’re asleep. The act of turning on the kettle instead of pulling out the corkscrew will eventually become automatic with practice, even if you’re doing both for a while.
Another beneficial habit to form in this new life is a morning routine. So often we wake up and immediately check our phones, which starts to drain our emotional battery right away. Consuming social media, work emails, and news alerts first thing when we wake up sets the tone for the rest of the day. Instead, try leaving your phone in another room overnight. When you wake up, try out journaling, drinking some hot lemon water, meditating, or stretching before you begin your day. This sacred time to yourself sets an intention and builds up your emotional battery so you have more energy at the end of the day. These habits will help reduce the taxation on your system and set you up for success when a craving hits.
Bloem. C. (2018, February). Why Successful People Wear The Same Thing Everyday. Inc. https://www.inc.com/craig-bloem/this-1-unusual-habit-helped-make-mark-zuckerberg-steve-jobs-dr-dre-successful.html
Clear, J. (2018). Atomic Habits. Avery Publishing.