Willpower is passe. Habits are the new hotness.
I see tons of articles shared on Facebook and posted to Medium about starting habits that promise all kinds of good fortune. 3
They’re not wrong. Good habits and change your trajectory for the better in lots of different ways. But starting a new habit requires you have a handle on your current routines, so you know what needs to change, where to fit new routines, and what habits might pair well with old habits you already have and want to keep.
That’s where a Habit Audit comes into play.
Our behavior is far more automatic than most of us realize. Even people that like to consider themselves impulsive and spontaneous will react to cues without making conscious decisions.
I see habits and routines in two main types: daily routines that you can write in a planner or on a schedule, and emotional reaction habits that occur when you’re in specific situations regardless of time of day or other things you’re doing.
Daily Routines Audit
This one is pretty straight forward. Sit down with some paper or your online calendar, and enter all the things you do, from getting up in the morning, making breakfast, scrolling social media, etc.
Be honest. Do you have a tendency to open Facebook while you’re still in bed, and suddenly it’s 30 mins later?
Once you have all your daily, time based routines down, go through and categorize them: positive, negative, neutral. These judgements should be based on YOUR priorities. Sitting for 30 mins and scrolling social media might be recourative for some (assuming it’s intentional), while it might be a stressful waste of time for another person.
Emotional Routines Audit
These are things that can’t be scheduled on a planner. The most common one I hear about, being in the fitness world, is stress or emotional eating. This requires a bit more in-the-moment regard.
I took this check in method from James Clear (aside: his new book, Atomic Habits, is really good). (https://jamesclear.com/atomic-habits)
Put a note card in your pocket or purse (OR FANNY PACK!). Have space for these five questions:
Who am I with?
What am I doing right now?
Where am I?
When is it?
What emotions am I feeling?
Each time you find yourself doing whatever action you are trying to curb, change, or modify, pull out the card and answer these questions. Over time, you’ll be have enough data that you should be able to see any trends.
So now you have the data
Now that you have a handle on what you’re doing, you can more easily make changes to how you move about your day. Without this, it’s like asking for directions without being able to tell Google Maps where you’re starting.
For more information on making the changes, I would highly recommend the books “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg and “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. James Clear also has a newsletter, one of the only ones I subscribe to, with all kinds of great tips and insights to sculpting your life, particularly around fitness and nutrition.
I’m starting my first Nutrition Habits and Awareness Course through Speed Power Strength. If you live nearby and can make the first group meeting, and would like to be a part of it, shoot me an email at kristin at spsgym dot com for more information about the course and how to sign up.