We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
A habit is an automatic behaviour repeated on a regular basis. It’s our brain’s smart way to work less to perform routine actions so we can invest more into new activities that expand our knowledge. However, forming a habit isn’t easy. No wonder habit-building tips abound on the internet, but how many times have you come across them and thought, “Ok, I’ve tried all this and it doesn’t really work for me. Now what?”
I know I have. Many of these articles assume there’s only one right way to build habits, and they don’t take into account differences between personality types. For example, some of us might do very well with written reminders on post-it notes, while others will forget to look at them. Some might respond well to an alarm; others will be ticked off and ignore it.
The good news is, there are many habit-building hacks, each of them catering to a different personality type. As a personality and general psychology nerd, I put together seven tips (plus one!) based on the science of habit formation, the MBTI, and the Four Tendencies theory. You have plenty to try out!
There’s the next mission, and nothing else.
Humanity has a long tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions, dating back to the Babylonians, who used to make promises to gain their gods’ favour and start the new year on the path to success. This is my favourite holiday practice because it’s rooted in an aspiration for self-improvement and success. However, U.S. News tells us that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. As for the UK, a poll showed that 63% of respondents had broken at least one of their resolutions in the past, the majority within a single month.
And yet, we’ve all heard of SMART goals. In other words, we all know our chances of success increase dramatically if our goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. So why haven’t we become goal-achieving machines by now?
The truth is, SMART goals are indeed the key to success, but setting goals and achieving them is a skill like any other. If we don’t learn to practise it correctly, goal setting will remain wishful thinking.
It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.
Before September 2018, I hadn’t been to a gym in about fifteen months. Even when I did go on a regular basis, I only ran on the treadmill. In September I moved from London to Portsmouth, where I have two gyms within walking distance from my house. Having out-trained my home equipment, I decided to sign up for the university gym.
On my first day, too scared to go into the male changing room, I dropped my backpack in the female one in a mad rush and stepped onto the gym floor with trepidation. The room was almost empty, which made the mirrors stand out all the more. Mirrors on every single wall, haunting me, showing me how small and puny and female I look from every possible angle. A painful reminder of what I’m not, of what I should have been.
In addition, that day I was supposed to start a different training routine with new, unfamiliar exercises. As a result, I was shaking throughout the workout and left on the verge of tears. Dysphoria is a bitch, am I right?
One of the reasons why I want to become a personal trainer is to help other trans folks overcome this. Personally, I had to change gym and find ways to build my confidence. Here are six tips that have worked well for me:
I think we all have blocks between us and the best version of ourselves, whether it’s shyness, insecurity, anxiety, whether it’s a physical block, and the story of a person overcoming that block to their best self. It’s truly inspiring because I think all of us are engaged in that every day.
Many of us look forward to the winter holidays to travel, spend time with family, and “eat all the food”. I’m not one of those people.
I worry about replacing my secure, solid routine with the unpredictable chaos family celebrations can be. I get anxious about leaving my home for a different house in a different country (my own family is in Italy, my partner’s in America), with different rules to learn and respect. I dread having less control over food and exercise than I do in the comfort of my daily life. For all these reasons, making the decision to go on holiday in the first place is a feat of strength. In fact, “travelling abroad at least once” was one of my long-term goals for the six-month period from September 2018 to March 2019.
In the past, my go-to strategy to face holiday fear was to shame myself for my anxieties and try to “go with the flow”. It was a disaster. I can’t go with the flow. Without a plan, I feel lost and anxious, so I become rigid and unforgiving about everything else (food, exercise, etc.) in a lacklustre attempt to be flexible about what’s going to happen next. It may sound like a paradox, but the “flow” makes me more strict.
Now I don’t dismiss those fears or reject my Type A personality anymore. Instead, I try to channel that personality into finding ways to curb anxiety and enhance flexibility. In this article, I’m going to share some of these strategies. If anything I said so far resonates with you, feel free to borrow my tips!
An online fitness coach who likes bodybuilding, superheroes, and bread.
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