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Time to Set Good Habits

The new school year is starting and summer is ending. This makes for the perfect time to set good habits.

Every time you come back from a holiday, it is a great time to put in place new routines, structures and good habits. The longer the break from your normal routine, the easier it is to fall out of good habits and into bad ones. I know this from personal experience.

Every summer, all my best laid intentions fall completely to the wayside.

I always think I’ll have time to exercise more, or make home-cooked healthier meals. I have this fantasy our family holiday will be like a spa retreat. Ha!

The reality: we dive into all the yummy, and often junky, foods that we love. We indulge in juicy American hamburgers with fries and crunchy style Cheetos you can’t find in England. Taco Bell is my girls’ favorite. We also love ice cream sundaes, corn on the cob rolled in butter, sticky pecan rolls, fried cheese curds, and smoked ribs from Mike’s Smokehouse in Manitowoc. Yep, we eat it all!

What’s amazing is that I only gained a few pounds this summer. I must have exercised a modicum of restraint. With all this indulgence, I actually feel happy to embark on a more stringent routine. Upon arriving back from the holiday, I reactivated my gym membership and got back into yoga. Before I left, I set up my CrossFit schedule. Don’t wait to start with your new regimen. Set up good habits now, while that new autumn energy is in the air.

What does it take to put good habits into place?

I read Gretchen’s Rubin’s book, Better than Before. This is about what it takes to put good habits in place. While I didn’t find anything new, it was full of good reminders. Her unique twist on habits is to consider what your natural tendency is.

Are you an Obliger, Rebel, Questioner or Upholder?
  • If you are an Obliger (think people-pleaser),  then you’ll struggle to keep inner commitments to yourself. And you are very good at keeping commitments to others. You’ll do well to have an external structure for support in place.
  • If you are a Rebel you’ll naturally resist both internal and external requirements. You will do best if you have a clear and compelling vision that inspires and propels you toward your objectives.
  • Questioners need to do their research and find the best solution/option. Once done, they are able to commit wholeheartedly.
  • Upholders find it fairly easy to stick to both external and internal commitments without much support. They are rare birds. (My husband is an Upholder. Once he commits to doing something, he just does it. There is no questioning, no waffling, no procrastinating. Amazing!)

But in truth, in my 20+ years of coaching people of all different styles and personalities, I’ve seen that most everyone does better with an external structure for support and with a compelling vision. This is why even super motivated and committed Olympic athletes all work with coaches.

The Upholders, who can be very self-motivated, benefit from the extra boost of encouragement that coaching provides. They also benefit from that outside perspective.

Gretchen admits that even Rebels, who naturally resist both internal and external requirements, often thrive in super rigid environments like the military. Rebels can thrive where there are a lot of rules, as there is a certain freedom in taking orders and having no decisions to make.

However, if you are a people-pleasing Obliger, then forget about trying to muster up the willpower or motivation to do it yourself. The best way forward, without a doubt, is to get that external support structure in place. The structure needs to be strong enough that you’ll do the new, good habit even when you don’t feel like it. If you are also an extrovert, then make sure that structure for support includes people and not just an app. [I love the app Habitshare and use it to remind me to take my vitamins every day]. It doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. It can be as simple as a standing daily appointment to walk your dog with your next door neighbor every morning.

Of course, I love that Gretchen says that most Obligers need external accountability and do really well with life coaching.

I’m an Obliger myself (with a bit of Questioner and a dash of Rebel mixed in for good measure). Without a doubt, I always accomplish much more when I have a great life coach challenging and encouraging me. It helps to be accountable for good habits to someone other than myself. This is especially important for me since I own my own business and there are no hard deadlines imposed by bosses. I can drift along for years just maintaining if left to my own devices. Gretchen’s point is clear: everyone is different and you may need to tweak and experiment to find what works best for you. I agree 100% with that!

 

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