Everyone knows building good habits has a positive effect on your life. So why don’t more of us adopt healthier habits? I think it’s because we get stuck in a narrative we have told ourselves for years and years that we are a certain type of person who can never do x, y, or z. We end up not even trying.
These limited narratives end up boxing you in, where change is out of the question, no matter how bad you may want it. There seem to be no alternatives than the reality you created (yes, you created it). Any of these sound familiar?
- “I’m not a morning person”
- “I hate that”
- “I could never do that”
- “That’s impossible”
- “Oh, that would never work for me”
These are self-limiting narratives that when gone unchecked, can become devastating to our progress, our confidence, and our ability to achieve the goals we set.
It’s a narrative we have told ourselves for years that we are good or bad at something, talented or average at best, can never ever do, or would not be the person to ever try. The lines are drawn and it seems totally acceptable to label yourself one thing, never to be anything else.
Now, I’m not saying you are going to become a concert pianist (unless you truly want to be, then have at it). There are skills that take years to develop, but when it comes to making changes to improve your quality of life, many of us choose habits that do not serve our goals. We talk a big talk, but the actions do not line up. This is the difference between aspirational goals and practiced goals. Lifestyle changes are a matter of small habits that add up to big changes. Take these for example:
- Wake up 10 minutes earlier.
- Make your bed
- Floss your teeth
- Drink an extra glass of water
Easy, right? Those are all very small habits to build in to your day that are manageable and make you feel successful. If you can make your bed in the morning, you have started out the day with a win in your pocket. When you crawl back into bed at night, you are reminded of that win. Small habits allow you to make changes gradually while having success along the way.
Keeping your habits small and manageable helps to align your aspirational goals with your actions.
Closing the gap between the two is where you achieve success, over and over again. It’s a practiced skill, so pick habits and goals you can achieve first before setting goals that really stretch your comfort zone.
Walking around with your self-limiting narrative protects us from trying something new, and possibly failing. Fear holds us back. But you are also allowing that fear and others to write your narrative. You are responsible. Nobody else. When you can identify, eliminate, and change the narrative (even with one small habit) it can be liberating as hell.