150. A new approach to habit change: routine and habit refinement

The new year brings a lot of thought to the goals and habits we want to have.  I have a new tool for you to try if you are feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with all the work that goes into creating new habits and stopping ‘bad habits’. This is called habit refinement. 

A new tool to try for making habit change

With this tool, we do a habit audit to get awareness around what. is already happening and then we use our vision/goals to help us determine how we can refine our current habits and routines to better serve us. 

Get the worksheets

Throughout this episode, I am sharing examples of how I use this tool and I have some worksheets for you to put it into practice in your own life too. 

Try a new approach to habit change

I know this approach might feel counter-intuitive but I encourage you to give it a try as you approach making changes in your life this year. 

I think you will find this is a gentle yet still challenging way to approach habit change that might help you be more sustainable in your efforts. 

Posts and resources mentioned in this episode:

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Around here, I am sharing ways that you can declutter your home, your heart, and your life. So that you can get rid of those distractions, those frustrations, those sources of overwhelm that are slowing you down, and keeping you from showing up well, for the things that you do want, keeping you from showing up with purpose and intention every single day in the little things that are going to move you closer to that life that you want to be building into.

So first of all, I want to give a shout out to my fellow moms who have their kids home from school right now. I’m in BC, so our kids were kept home for an extra week, from the winter break. I think in Ontario, you guys have your kids home two extra weeks. So I just want to give a shout out to you guys. And my heart goes out to all the parents who are managing this and making it work. And I know it’s not always pretty, it’s not always easy. Everyone’s in the space, everyone’s sharing the space, people are restless, the routines that you’ve relied on are not happening.

And so I just I feel for you, because I know what that’s like, I was so grateful to my husband that he could take two days off to get me through that week that my kids have been home. But one thing that I always have to come back to and I have to remind myself after not doing it for a couple days, and realizing like oh, I actually need this is a plan a little bit of a plan, a little bit of a routine in place. And I’ve got some episodes on that. I’ll link in the show notes if they help you make a plan that works for you guys and your family.

But moving ahead, thinking about this time where we’re going to get back to school, we’re going to kind of get back to our routine, a lot of us in the New Year naturally start to think about our routines and our habits. And habits is a topic that is really popular around this time of year. I’ve got my mind on it as I do the life on purpose workbook, every January.

And over the years, I have put a lot of habit change. In my life. I’ve worked on a lot of habit change, read a lot of books on it, I’ve been coached on it. I’ve coached others on it. And I don’t mean that I’m in total expert. But what I mean is that I’m right there with you if you want to change habits, and it feels frustrating and overwhelming. And we’re even start and there’s so much information like what book should I read? What should I do? How should I try this.

So I want to just like dial it back down a bit, I want to talk about in this episode, about your daily habits, the ones that you already have, and how you can start shifting those. We’re going to start with a bit of a habit audit, which is listing out all of the habits you have and then examining them. And deciding how you want to be working with what’s already in place what you want to be changing.

And in your head, you might be thinking like, Yeah, I know what my habits are, I know what I want to change. So just hang in with me because this I did this exercise as I was writing this episode, and I’ve done this exercise in the past, it’s really an exercise in self awareness, to take a step back and start to follow yourself throughout the day. How do I spend my time? What habits do I already have?

And I found that I underestimated how many habits I already had things that I did. And I didn’t even have to think about it from morning routine like washing my face, brushing my teeth to the apps, I pull up on my phone without thinking to the pantry snacking that I just go to at nap time to how I would respond to my kids at different times of the day. Because I noticed in myself that I have emotional habits and how I show up throughout my day, to the habits I have around chores, what’s getting done, what’s not.

And so many things that I’ve learned over the years just are happening on autopilot for me. And I think it’s really powerful to get that awareness around what’s happening on autopilot. And by powerful I mean mostly humbling. Because the reality is, I formed these habits for myself over the years.

At one point in my day I tried that behavior, my brain thought it was rewarding in some way got some dopamine from it. And that habit loop was established. If I got some dopamine from it. Then the next time I’m in that situation, my brain is like, oh, remember, we did this thing and it felt really great. Let’s do it again.

I didn’t even question it, the cue would pop up, the urge would come up. And I would follow through on the action without thought. And really this is the beauty and the curse of our habits of our brain creating these habits. So doing a habit audit, it really helped me face the choices that I welcomed into my life and my complacency and letting them become something that happens on autopilot. Something I didn’t question something that just got more and more strong with repetition as habits do.

But I’ve really also learned to have some compassion here because that is the power of of our brain. It’s driving so many of our actions and reactions, and we don’t question it, we just accept it. We have the supercomputer in our heads in our bodies, that’s programming us for optimal survival. But the things that feel good like that we get dopamine from that feeling good to our brain. They’re not always the things that are good.

So it takes a lot of stepping out of that getting awareness and being really intentional and saying, Yeah, my brain thinks this feels great, like this food, or this TV show or whatever. It feels great. But it’s not actually what I want. It’s not actually great for me. And this is what we call becoming intentional, becoming intentional, becoming purposeful with what we’re doing and how we’re doing it.

Alright, so habits, they’re already there. They’re happening on autopilot. And here’s the thing, if you write out your habits, some of them are good. Some of them are neutral. And some of them are just really not getting you where you want to go. But once we can lay all that out, we can start to see the changes that we want to make, we have a starting point, because we know what’s already working well that we can build upon.

So here is the first step, grab a pen and paper, do this with me, open up your notes, app, whatever. What are your current habits, watch yourself through the day, think of yesterday, think of a typical day you might have and when I was doing this, I picked my kids being in school and my husband being at work. So I’m at home. And this hasn’t happened consistently, in like six weeks. Because we had floods, we were out of school like it hasn’t happened. But this is what the normal I want to have. This is where I want to be setting up my routines. This is what the normal that I want to rely on.

So go to your typical kind of day that you can plan on having ultimately, in the long run. Watch yourself as you flow through the day, write down everything that you’re doing. Write down the things you’re doing in the morning, how you’re eating, what you’re listening to, maybe the emotions that you notice in yourself at different times of the day, all throughout the day, write down the flow of your day, write down each of these habits that you have.

And even as you’re writing out this list, this was my experience. As you can see, some of the habits that are missing, like I had worked on bringing habits into my life. And now they had kind of been dropped out over the years, as things were changing with pandemic life. And I could also see habits that just weren’t helping me either like the way that I was approaching lunchtime, just rolling into the kitchen, looking for something to eat and not really having a plan. So eating nachos, instead of having something that’s already like nourishing and ready.

So the next step, as you’re looking at this list, is to think about what you want this year, or the next couple of years, you really do need to take a minute to set out some vision. And you can do this with a live on purpose workbook, you can do this with the free live your vision worksheets, because your habits are building blocks. So you want to make sure that you’re building what you ultimately want, we can sometimes choose the wrong habits that aren’t serving the life that we ultimately want.

So now you have some vision and goals in mind, I want you to look at this list of habits and start to maybe make some notes around them. What’s moving you towards your vision, what’s neutral was just like maintain you. And it’s kind of fun. What’s moving you away from your vision. And you could even write notes about maybe how this supports your vision or how it doesn’t support your vision.

But what I really want to take some time, what I really want you to spend some time looking at with this list of habits that becomes your daily routine, is I want you to start refining this list. I want you to start to write some notes here. What do you want to reduce? What do you want to keep doing? What do you want to really focus on if you already have a habit there and you want to bolster it up? Like one for us is we do bedtime cuddles with each kid. And I find especially over the past few months, that this is something I’m rushing through that I’m just okay. Like, here’s some standard questions and standard conversation Good night. But I want to be taking more time to really connect with my kids to just hang out with them. Because I noticed it’s happening less throughout the day as they become more busy in their day. So that’s something I want to bolster up with.

So as I went through my list, I wrote notes about the habits I wanted to alter and how I was going to alter them. For instance, I check my phone in the morning before I come out into the living room. I don’t really have much shame about this. It’s kind of like a check in. So I don’t feel like I need to do it around the kids. But I know I want to shorten the timeframe but then I’m spending on that because it’s easy to lose track of time. So I want to set a timer for that. Or I want to be present at certain times of the day like dinner and bedtimes or want to have more lunch food ready so I’m going to be making bigger meals at dinner so I have more leftovers. These are all ways that I want to alter the routines and habits I already have in place.

You might notice something is missing from this conversation about habits, you might notice I’m not talking about starting new habits. I’m not talking about starting an exercise routine in the morning, or devotional practice in the morning, I’m not talking about any of that. I’m just talking about refining your current routine, because you do have this framework of your day. And I want to just start to alter pieces of it, do a little more here, do a little less of that there.

Because what I’ve learned in doing this work in coaching women, the sustainable way to habit changes to make it simple, and do it over time. And I think What’s hard is this feels counterintuitive, like I’m ready to make changes, let’s do them all. And maybe even counterculture like change yourself, change your life, whatever I don’t know, I’m going to talk about this kind of issue in an upcoming episode.

And I’m not saying never pursue new habits and goals and all that, what I’m saying is just try this for a while, try looking at your routine and starting to refine it, starting to alter what’s already there, a little bit more a little bit less. This is such a gentle way to enter into habit change to enter into the new year. And I think you’re going to find a lot of maybe more pleasure in doing it this way, maybe a little bit more appreciation for yourself, as you take this more gentle approach into refining what’s already there. And you know, I can say gentle approach, I don’t want to downplay this, I don’t want to make it sound like boring or clinical, because it is something that is going to be unique to you, it’s going to be something that should excite you a little bit, maybe even challenge you a little bit, that’s all going to be a part of it.

So I know I breezed through the steps here, I did make a worksheet for this is going to be a link in the show notes for that. So make sure you stop by and grab that. I would love to hear how it’s going for you make sure to share that on Instagram or in the Facebook group. If you’re part of that.

We’ll wrap up with a simple pleasure. And this isn’t one that I was expecting to have. But as I looked through my list that I made for this episode of all the habits, like the routine that I had, I looked at that list and I thought like what’s what’s a part about on this list that I really enjoy that I really like. And I thought about that moment in my morning when I put on my robe and my slippers, and it come out of the bedroom and into like the living area of my house where everyone is. And I used to have anxiety about mornings with the kids. I mean, you know, three small kids, you would have to just like wake up and start feeding them and cleaning up to them. Like it’s kind of a faster pace when they’re younger. But as they get older, in I can take that time to pump myself up, wash my face, you know, put my robe on. I just love that cozy moment where I walk into the living room. And they’re all cuddled up under blankets watching TV together. And they say good morning to them. And I I’m really surprised that I like this so much I didn’t expect to grow to appreciate this so much this simple pleasure. And I don’t know if I can really put it into words but I just really love seeing them with their sleepy hair and their sleepy heads in their PJs quietly beside each other. It’s also one time in the day where I say something to them and they instantly I’ll respond that doesn’t usually happen as the day goes on. So it does feel like we’ve connected like maybe it just feels cozy and connected. It feels Hygge. That’s what it does. It feels hygge I’ll also link to some blog posts and episodes about who get to if you’re interested in that.

Alright friends, go check out the show notes. Lots of stuff there for you. If you can’t find the shownotes go to simple on purpose.ca. Click Listen, everything is there for all of the episodes all the show notes. Also full transcripts if you felt like you missed something and you wanted to read through it that that is there as well. Have a great week friends

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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