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Motivational Monday Musings

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Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Hi, Spark friends. . . It’s Motivational Monday again, and here we are in the last few weeks of the year, and facing our last chance to meet our quarterly and yearly goals for 2019. It’s also a good time to evaluate what has worked for us these previous two months and what has not. We have just 4 short weeks to realize our goals for this last quarter of this year which we set for ourselves on September 1st. Let’s use these next few weeks to double down on our commitment, get our “second wind”, and make that “sprint for the finish line” with our all of our effort.

How are you feeling about your monthly evaluation of meeting your goals for November, and your weight loss for the month?

Let’s look at some ways we can maximize our efforts to help us cross that finish line with triumph.

We have previously discussed a way to incorporate tiny steps one on top of another to keep us moving forward. Is there a habit or a few that you would like to incorporate once and for all that would help you now and into next year? Even with the best intentions, creating new, healthy habits can be difficult. Why is it that habits like taking a shower, brushing our teeth, making our morning coffee or tea, or establishing a bedtime routine seem to come so easily that you almost don’t have to give them a second thought, while finding time to exercise does not?

What if the actual process equals the goal? What if you made the "actual process" - "the actual point of reaching the goal"?

You can help to incorporate and foster a new habit into your life through a technique called “habit stacking” - where you “stack” the new habit on top of a regular, existing one. Imagine each of these cups is a "daily habit". Linking this new, desire able habit to an already automatic, established one cues your brain, which then cues you, to complete the habit. The habits will gradually stack up on top of one another, and eventually you reach your goal, the top cup, of losing 30 pounds.
Here is a great pictorial blog further explaining this process:


Habit stacking can help incorporate a new, desired habit more comfortably into your routine or lifestyle. Start by brainstorming your routine habits. Your list might look like this:

Get up
Make bed
Make coffee
Take a shower
Brush teeth
Eat breakfast
Drop kids off at school
Eat lunch
Fix dinner
Turn off lights and lock doors
Get into bed

In the second column write down things that happen each day no matter what:

The sun rises
I get out of bed
Let the dog out
I get a text message
A commercial comes on TV
The phone rings
I brush my teeth
I get ready for bed

With these two lists in front of you, you can figure out the best way to incorporate habit stacking into your daily life.

Here are a few examples to get you started:

When you are getting ready for bed, organize and prep your exercise clothes. Get out your exercise clothes and fill your water bottle, and set them at your “usual last stop” before you go out the door, or right beside the door. It will be a visual reminder of your commitment to exercise the next day, and you will have a hard time not taking it.

You can set an intention by habit stacking. For example:
• After I wash my face, and remove my make-up, I will pack my clothes and filled water bottle for the gym, and set it next to my purse.
• While my dinner is cooking, I will prep my fruits and healthy snacks for tomorrow’s lunch.
• After I finish dinner, I will put my 3 one liter bottles on the counter so I remember to drink my eight glasses of water tomorrow.
• After I put the coffee on to brew, I will take the brewing time to meditate, or read something inspirational to start my day on a positive note.
• I will drink a full glass of water before each meal.

Once you have mastered the basic habit stack of pairing a habit with a timed cue, you can begin to create larger stacks by chaining many small habits to one another. This allows you to build on the momentum of one thing leading to another. This more complex stacking would look something like this:

1. After I turn the coffeemaker on, I will read my daily inspiration.
2. After I read my daily inspiration, I will write down my To Do List for the day.
3. After I make my To Do List for the Day, I will eat a healthy breakfast.
4. After I finish my healthy breakfast, I will take the dog for a walk.

Habit stacks allows you to create a set by step set of rules to guide and change your behavior. It’s basically a step by step game plan to guide you through your day more efficiently and healthy. You could incorporate the following example into your daily routine by habit stacking:
• When I see a set of stairs, I will use them instead of the elevator.
• I will fill 2/3 of my plate with vegetables at lunch and dinner.
• I will drink one of my bottles of water before noon, the second by the time I leave work, and the third before 9 PM at night.

The secret to success in using habit stacking is selecting the right cue to kick things off. The clue specifically has the time and location built into it. When and where you choose to insert the habit stacking in your routine is crucial. For example, if you are trying to insert inspirational reading into your schedule, if mornings are chaotic in your family, stop to think about what time of day would be more beneficial - perhaps after your bedtime shower before your bedtime. Your cue should also have the same frequency as your desired habit. If you want to go to the gym three times a week, stack it on something that you do only a few times a week, or on certain days. The cue must be specific and immediately actionable. For example, “when I get up from my desk to go to lunch, I will do 10 push-ups on my desktop”.

You can always go back and read the previous Motivational Monday Musings to refresh your memory of other tips and techniques you can use to help you cross the finish line!

Here is a great illustration/presentation on "15 Quick Habits You Can Incorporate Into Your Morning Routine" via Complex Habit Stacking. Just click on the right arrow to view the presentation.


Good Luck in meeting your final quarter goals, and your yearly goal, if you set one!
Have a wonderful week!

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