Jan. 3, 2023

The Power Of Habits: How To Make Sustainable Change In The New Year And The Differences Between Habits And Resolutions

The Power Of Habits: How To Make Sustainable Change In The New Year And The Differences Between Habits And Resolutions

Have you ever felt like you want to make some big changes in your life, but don't know where to start? Or maybe you've tried to make changes before, but found it too overwhelming and ended up giving up? If so, you're not alone. Research has shown that...

Have you ever felt like you want to make some big changes in your life, but don't know where to start? Or maybe you've tried to make changes before, but found it too overwhelming and ended up giving up? If so, you're not alone.

Research has shown that making small, incremental changes to our habits can lead to big improvements in our overall happiness and health. And the best part is, these changes don't have to be drastic or overwhelming. In fact, sometimes the smallest changes can have the biggest impact.

As we kick off 2023, we're discussing the power of small habit changes and how they can improve your overall well-being.

In this episode we discuss:

  • Identify a specific habit you want to improve or change. Start by choosing one habit to focus on, rather than trying to make multiple changes at once.
  • Make the habit easier to perform. Use James Clear’s "Four Laws of Behavior Change" to make the cues for the habit more noticeable, the rewards more satisfying, and the barriers for the habit more difficult to overcome.
  • Establish a new identity around the habit. Reflect on your values and consider how the habit aligns with your identity. Make a list of the benefits of adopting the habit and remind yourself of these benefits when you are tempted to skip the habit.
  • Use the "Two-Minute Rule" to start building the habit. Start with a small, manageable action that can be completed in two minutes or less. Gradually increase the duration of the habit as it becomes easier to perform.
  • Eliminate the cues and rewards that maintain bad habits. Identify the cues and rewards that are driving the bad habit and find alternative ways to address those needs. For example, if you want to stop procrastinating on your work, you might set a specific time for starting work each day and reward yourself with a break or a small treat when you complete a task.

Don’t let the conversation end there. Join us in our Facebook Group where you and fellow Fit Mess listeners can connect for monthly challenges, accountability to reach your goals, and a supportive community. 

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If you enjoyed this episode check out:

How To Become The Best Version Of Yourself Even When You Feel Like The Worst Version Of Yourself With Jeff Wickersham




SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: [00:00:00] Have you ever felt like you wanna make some big changes in your life, but you don't know where to start?

Or maybe you've tried to make changes before but found it too overwhelming and ended up giving up? so, you're not alone.

SOLO-Habits - USB: Research has shown that making small incremental changes to our habits can lead to big improvements in our overall happiness and health. And the best part is these changes don't have to be drastic or overwhelming. In fact, sometimes the smallest changes can have the biggest impact.

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: As we kick off 2023, we're discussing the power of small habit changes and how they can improve your overall wellbeing. 

Zach: But first, this is the fit mess. We're together, we learn to develop habits that help us live beyond our mental health struggles to create happier, healthier lives.

Jeremy: He's Zach. He lives in the future with his.

Zach: He's Jeremy and he lives in the past with his depression, and we get together once a week in the present to share the obstacles we face and how we overcome them.

SOLO-Habits - USB: You know, as we're celebrating the new year, I almost feel like it's still 2020 because the last three years have just been kind of weird.

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: of a blur.

SOLO-Habits - USB: A little bit of a blur, but,[00:01:00] the only reason I do know that the last three years have happened is because I have a lot of new things in my life from, habits and rituals and things like that, that I've implemented over the last three years.

So there is proof that the last three years did happen because of the power of habits 


SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: And, and clearly you tho all those habits, you did them all overnight, right? You just woke up one morning and said, that's it. I'm, I'm making all these changes. I'm doing them all tomorrow, and it's just gonna be smooth sailing and perfect from here.

SOLO-Habits - USB: Yep. And I, I took on like 63 new habits all on January 1st, 2020. And, and I've done every single one of them every single day for the last three years. And, and I mean, it's been no 

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: it's just,

that easy, right? I mean, what, why we don't even need to do this podcast anymore. Just decide you're gonna do all the things. Do 'em tomorrow. That's

it. Thanks for showing 

SOLO-Habits - USB: And that's it. Yeah. No, end the show. See everyone.

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: All right. But in reality, take us back a little bit. How, how did you get to where you are? What, what kind of habits have you I.

SOLO-Habits - USB: There's been a few Covid was a little rough on [00:02:00] me from, from a physical perspective. I hurt myself quite a few times, so like I completely got out of the habit of working out. Eating was another issue, like just all over the place. Social media was my place of connection while we were in Covid.

Like I couldn't see anyone, so I was on social media all the time. So I developed some bad habit. That I had to, turn around and, and get rid of them. So, you know, I got back into my physical activity. My body is almost back to pre 

covid standards. My eating is back. My, social media usage is still a little too high for my liking.

I mean, I limit myself to 15, 20 minutes a day. But yeah, I mean, that's still too much.

But I've got a lot more to do. the one thing that, that I wanna work on this year is really, is really more the mental sharpness. Like I've, I feel like I've lost my ability to focus as deeply as I used to be able to. not blaming Covid for my inability to focus.

I'm [00:03:00] really blam. Old age maybe, or other habits? I don't know. But I, I just feel like I'm not able to focus as, as much as I used to be able to focus. So, part of, I won't say it's a resolution, this because I've started this before the new year.

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: Mm.

SOLO-Habits - USB: I'm putting habits into place to give me the practice time for focus and be really mindful about focusing.

So a lot of meditation, yoga, blocking off an hour for focused work and putting my phone away, things like that. Uh, so it's, it's gonna be an interesting year and trying to get that back. But, all of my other habits are pretty solid and I'll just, now that they're solid, they're not brand new.

I'm used to them. I wake up at four 30, I go to the gym. I do my daily. and we're good to go. Now it's time to introduce a new small incremental change.

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . That is the key. We talk about it all the time, is just that, making sure whatever changes you make are really. But another thing that, and, and I think this, that, you know, again, we're, we're not really into resolutions here, but just things that, [00:04:00] that I am sort of approaching differently this year.

The last few months I, I started a job as a coach in, in the podcasting space and I've, I've, it's really become extremely clear to me how much having that coach, having a leader in your life that can make sure you're on, staying the course right, holding you accountable, pointing you in the right direction to the things you need to get. Being that for other people has really shown me how much value. There really isn't it, even though we've talked about it for years, I, we, we know it, but, but putting it into practice has made it painfully clear for me. So I think this is gonna be the year where, where I ask for help more and I'm gonna turn to, to coaches and leaders to, to show me better ways to do things because I do, I have, I have a really bad habit of letting myself off the hook.

I, I let myself make bad choices over and over. . And you know, in the last few days especially, I've been trying to track my behaviors, trying to track like the things I'm eating, the, the amount of movement I'm getting in the, in the day. And it's one of those things where like, I'm aware of it, but when you see it on paper, when you see [00:05:00] the numbers, when you see the data, and it really hits you over the head with like, okay, no, you're, you have, you have a bad habit of letting yourself off the hook of not reaching, not reaching the benchmarks that you set as important to.

Seeing them on paper and, and, glowing at me from my screen has become really clear. And so I'm, I'm painfully aware of how much help I need, and so I think that's what my, my habit is going to be is, is leaning into this is hard. Where can I find help and reaching out and getting it

SOLO-Habits - USB: I am really happy you said that and if you do need any help, please reach out to somebody else.

seriously though, I think that's, that's actually a really. Commendable thing, right? That you've recognized that letting yourself off the hook is a habit, right? There's good habits, there's bad habits. That one is a habit that you need to remove, right? We've all got good ones.

We've all got bad ones. [00:06:00] And when we're talking about these small incremental changes, we're gonna replace a habit or stop doing a habit completely. You don't have to replace it with something else, but if you're re, if you're trying to remove something and introduce something else, sometimes that doesn't work well either.

Jeremy: I quickly wanna mention our sponsor Athletic Greens. If you wanna empty that overflowing cabinet full of vitamins and replace them with one great tasting drink, then order Athletic Greens now. So you can not only give your body what it needs to thrive, but we'll give you a free year supply of immune supporting vitamin D and five free travel packs with your first purchase. The link to try it out is in the show notes for this episode@thefitmess.com 

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: so we have sort of a, a few keys to consider as you listen to this episode, you think about what are the habits you wanna bring into 2023 for you, whether it's you see it as a resolution or it's just, you know, a time to reflect and, and do things differently. It's just that that tends to happen this time of year.

So. Like you just mentioned, like one of the main things to consider is just identifying it, right? Like figuring out what is the thing that I want to change? Am I not [00:07:00] getting up as early as I'd like? Am I, you know, eating the wrong foods? Am I not getting enough exercise? Am I not prioritizing sleep?

Like all these little things, it really starts with just identifying it, right, so that you can decide how am I going to deal with this? Am I going, am I going to cut out the, the Netflix binge at night so that I can get to bed on time? Am I going. Uh, meet with a nutritionist and come up with how much protein do I need in my life?

Am I going, are you going to drink more water? Like, whatever it is, like really identifying it first is the first step.

SOLO-Habits - USB: Yeah. And being really clear about after you've identified it, whether it's something you need to stop doing or if it's something that you need to replace. So as an example, Spending too much time on Facebook, do you need to replace that with anything? No, not really. It's gonna free up time and you're gonna do other things, but I wouldn't say that you should take all the time you're spending on Facebook and go do something else. On the other hand, if your goal is to eat better, well that is a replacement, right? Because if you don't have a plan [00:08:00] in place for, I'm not going to eat ice cream. I'm going to eat x. When you get hungry and you don't have X defined, you'll go back to the ice.

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: and it's important to make the the habit change easy, right? So whether it's cutting down on social media, maybe that means pulling the apps off your phone so that it's not as easy to access them. If it is a diet change, making sure that the food you have in your house is the food you want to be eating.

Not the food that's there, because it looked good when you were wandering the aisles at the grocery store and you were super hungry and made some terrible choices. So making sure that you're set up for success is, is really important. I, I know for me, I have too many social media apps on my phone. I need to delete them because it's really easy to get sucked down that rabbit hole.

And, you know, you can set all the timers you want in the world, but when the timer says, would you like more time? It's really easy to go. Yeah. All right. Sure. So Removing access to the things that feed those bad habits is one of the easiest ways to make sure that you can change.

SOLO-Habits - USB: So an area where I struggle whenever I'm putting a new habit in place. Jeremy, you know this [00:09:00] about me and I would, I would guess anyone listening knows this about me too. I tend to bite off more than I can chew on a pretty regular basis, and that, that's also true whenever I'm trying to put a new habit in place.

I mean, we joked at the beginning about, putting a whole bunch of habits in place and doing, I do that a lot 

and I remind myself all the time why it's really important to, start small, really, really small, incremental things. And I, I love this, you know, two minute. It's a building, a new habit where whatever it is you're doing, you should be able to complete in two minutes or less or break it down to something that's two minutes or less so that you can actually do it.

Everyone's got two minutes in their day. I don't care who you are, you have two minutes to do whatever it is you're looking for. I have in the past, taking on a new habit that takes six hours and per day. Just completely unmanageable. So I, I love, breaking it down to [00:10:00] something really, really, really small.

Like, if you're gonna eat better, start with one meal a 

day, not all the meals. Or if you wanna start exercising, start with a walk around the block, not an hour at the gym, lifting weights that you can't lift.

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Cause that never ends well, right. You hit that, you hit the gym for that first time. You spent an hour in there and all of a sudden you can't move for three days. And so your, your habit has already broken because you're too sore Actually. Follow up on the habit. So doing those small little things is, is what sets you up for success, because it just builds that confidence, it builds that foundation to be able to, to go from two minutes of putting on the shoes to five minutes of putting on the shoes and walking out the door to 10 minutes of putting on the shoes, walking out the door and going around the block and just growing from there.

It just becomes so much easier. I know I'm, I'm sort of suffering a little bit of that right now with working with a coach who is helping me figure out how to eat. While moving more, while focusing on more sleep, while cutting out a lot of the caffeine that I've been drinking. I was sort of chasing all of that in my [00:11:00] head yesterday of, it's cuz it's only been a few days and I'm already like, oh, this is too much. I, how do I keep track of all this? It's a lot of, even the app is too organ. Like there's, there's kind of a lot that I'm trying to do at once and, and I'm already seeing the pattern of this is hard give.

Try again. Another way. There's some other magical tool. There's some, some other thing that's gonna work better and it's, it's, it's just that I'm biting off more that I can chew right now. So I need to scale back and go, okay, where can I start? Where can I, what can I eliminate from these changes I'm trying to make, to make the ones that I can focus on even more effective? 

 And through all of these changes that, that I'm trying to make and that, that you're likely trying to make, you have to remember why you're making them. There has to be a, a bigger, better offer than what. Ever is feeding the bad habits now or is not letting you accomplish the things you're trying to accomplish?

I mean, I must have told the story a million times by now about adopting the identity of the weird guy who rides his bike to work every day. Like, I, I didn't just wanna start riding my bike, right? Like I, I sort of had to talk myself into it and I talked myself into it through the help of a doctor who was like, if you don't [00:12:00] do this, you're gonna have to replace your knees.

And so I had to decide, am I the guy that's gonna keep doing what I'm doing and end up with two knee replacements when I'm, you know, 65 years? or am I the guy who's gonna do the things now that I can look back on in 20 years and say, Hey, good job. You made the right choice. And so really focusing on who is the person I'm trying to become through these habits And, and what is, what is the why?

Like what, what is the thing that is generating the need to make these changes? By staying focused on that, that is what's ultimately going to fuel your desire to continue to build these habits and, and quit relying on motivation to to do better, which is never gonna come.

SOLO-Habits - USB: You're so right, like motivation doesn't come. However, if you do have a bad habit, there's a lot of motivation behind those bad 

habits, and I'm not, I'm not kidding. Like I know I've recognized this cue in myself, and this is why I have limited time on Facebook and Instagram on my phone. , I have recognized that whenever [00:13:00] I'm in a situation where I'm uncomfortable or I'm doing something that I don't know how to do, and this is usually like work related or plumbing or something that's just like outside of my sphere of, of expertise, which is a really small sphere, but, so it's most of the time. Whenever I'm in that realm, like I, that's a cue for me. And I would go for my phone and I'd open up Facebook and I had to recognize that I had to see it. And we all have these cues for bad habits. We all do what something triggers it and that motivation to continue on with that bad habit. Is reinforced and kicked in and kicks in every time.

So in my example, you know, I had to limit the amount of time that I could use Facebook and Instagram on my phone. Like literally had to put timers on it. Like I w like I'm a child and that's how I fixed it for the most part. But like you said at the beginning, you can extend your time if you really want to, and then that's where, that's where discipline comes [00:14:00] in.

but those cues are really, really powerful and very motivating for those bad habits. So just figuring out what those cues are is really important.

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: Yeah, there's, there's nothing more, uh, instantly gratifying when you, you know, are, are having an emotional moment than popping up in the pantry and deciding what garbage can I put in my face to, to numb this pain for a little bit? How often have you, you know, found yourself trying to escape whatever is going on inside by turning on, you know, the Xbox and playing a video game for an hour or four?

there's all these things that we can, we can immediately put bandaids on the, the pain that we're trying to stuff down or whatever. . So it's very different than when you're trying to see the long-term goal of 10 years from now, what am what's gonna be the, the end result?

How am I going to affect my kids 20 years from now, when right now you can go, I'll feel better when I do this right now,

SOLO-Habits - USB: Yeah, that's really funny. You described my morning, like I hit the pantry and then played a video 

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: that's, it's a, it's a little too familiar, I think, for too many.[00:15:00] 

SOLO-Habits - USB: It was after all of my other daily habits

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: Oh, all the good ones, right? You gotta, you gotta ba there's, you gotta balance, right? A few good ones, a few bad ones.

SOLO-Habits - USB: That's right. I got the gym in, I got, you know, I woke up early. I got to the gym. I did my daily planning. Even though I don't have work today, I still planned my day and I planned on, you know, playing a video game. The pantry trip was extra

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: That's, yeah, it's a little bonus. It. I think in the end, like the, the main takeaway I think that I, that I hope people leave this episode with. When you're making these changes, it's so easy to focus on what is the end result, right? Like, I, I'm going to eat better so that I can look better. I'm going to lift more weights so that I have more muscles and feel more confident on the beach or whatever.

Like, you're gonna be so focused on the thing six months from now, a year from now, 10 years from now, that it can become a grind and, and you don't really fall in love with the process and fall in love with the habit itself. That creates the. So by really just focusing on, [00:16:00] on almost treating it like a checklist of, did I do this thing today, will allow you in six months to look back at the last six months and go, man, look how far I've come.

Rather than spending six months going, oh, I'm not there yet. I'm not there yet. I'm not there yet. I'm not there yet. Because when you, when you pursue it from that angle, it's a punishment every day is that you haven't reached the goal yet. You haven't reached, you're not, you're not there. . But if it's just, I did this today check, then you can move on to the next and then reevaluate in time and see how far you've come.

And that's where the real reward from any habit change comes, is being able to look back at how far it brought you, rather than focusing on where you hope it's going to end up for you.

SOLO-Habits - USB: Yeah, I, I like to focus on today, just today, like for whatever goal I have, whatever habit I've got, if I just do these things today, that's it. That's all I need to focus on is today. I don't have to worry about tomorrow or the next day or the day after that. It's just getting through today, and then tomorrow I'm gonna get through today again, like [00:17:00] if, if you break it down to that, it's manageable.

But if you think about something that you have to do for every single day, for the next six months, like if I think about all the workouts I'm gonna do between now and six months from now, I would just throw

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: Or, or now and the rest of your life, right? Because it's something you're gonna have to do for the rest of your life. That becomes the giant.

SOLO-Habits - USB: Exactly, so like you, you build it as a habit and you just get through today. Don't worry about tomorrow for some of these things. You will get to your goal if you just worry about today.

All right. As we, as we kind of wrap this conversation up, really nothing that you and I have said in this whole podcast that anyone can't find Googling right? It, this is all, basically out there, but what you don't see, right? You, you see all these websites that just say, do this, do this, do this, do this, and you'll be happy and you'll be amazing.

is hard. Like it's really, really hard to do this, and you're gonna get frustrated and you're gonna talk down to yourself. You [00:18:00] are gonna be mean to yourself for not completing your goals, for not doing the habit, for not doing the thing. It's really fucking hard. Like all of these things, whatever it is you're trying to do, it's really. So just take a small win every single day when you do do your thing that you did it that day, and really celebrate that because making these changes in our lives is such a hard thing, and they don't talk about that on a lot 

of these websites.

So please celebrate it. Take your wins and know that what you're doing is one of the hardest things that human beings have.

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: And don't get discouraged when they're setbacks, right? I mean, that, that's what's going to happen. It's, you cannot be perfect every day. Whatever the goals are that you've laid out for yourself, you're gonna fall short. Life's gonna get in the way. There are going to be things that stop you from doing them every day.

And if you beat yourself up every time that happens, then that becomes the new habit. All of a sudden, this is a punishment every day. So you have to approach these things with compassion. You have to approach them with the forgiveness, that you would offer [00:19:00] your child or someone close to you because you will fail ev every day.

There will be something as the list grows, you will fail at something every day. And the more you allow for that to happen and forgive it and approach it with compassion and just try again next time, the more progress I think you're going to make. I'm not saying let yourself off the. But just don't fall into the habit of beating yourself up every time you aren't able to check off one of these habits for that day.

SOLO-Habits - USB: Yeah, absolutely. You, you are a wonderful human being and because you're a human being, You're gonna miss every now and again.

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: Aw, thanks. Oh, wait, you weren't talking to me,

SOLO-Habits - USB: I'm talking to everyone. you're you're 

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: I'm fairly I'm a fairly adequate human being. That's I, I'll take that as a win. I'll take that as a win.

SOLO-Habits - USB: you should go back to bed now.

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: I should, well, Zach, we're wrapping up the first episode of 2023 A, a new year, and it's hard to believe we're going into our fifth year of this podcast.

SOLO-Habits - USB: I know. I can't believe that. I'm actually really surprised that you've put up with me for five [00:20:00] 

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: You're surprised.

SOLO-Habits - USB: Yeah, I imagine. I imagine that's been a, it's been a hard five years for you.

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: uh, it, it's, it's had its challenges like, like any habit, building a, building, a good habit, uh, small steps, little, uh, effort here and there. But, but here we are. And if you like the show and you want to help keep it going, we have a simple way for you to do that. First, you can simply share this episode with someone who you think needs to hear it. Lots of people are trying to take on new challenges and build new habits, and if you think this may be helpful for them, please, uh, share it with them, forward it post about it on social media, whatever works for you.

Another way you can support the show is by buying us a coffee or. Two or five, whatever someone does that, it really does make our day and we literally take that cash and buy coffee with it. So you can do that through the Buy Me a Coffee link on our website@thefitmess.com. That's also where we will be back next week with a brand new episode.

Thanks for listening.

SOLO-Habits - USB: See you everyone.

SOLO-Habits - Mic 1: And Happy New Year. [00:21:00]