Building new habits can feel difficult and overwhelming for an individual with ADHD. That sweet phrase “old habits die hard.” is no joke. Habits are formed over time so our brain has less to do and can go on autopilot without thinking. But what about when it comes to habits that are harmful, or don’t serve you, like impulsive buying, perfectionism, saying yes to everything, and trying to go on long work periods without rest. These types of habits can be hard to break AND they don’t help you become your best self. One of the reasons why, is because the habits are run by our subconscious, the subconscious is like a ninja and will do all it can to present you with super juicy temptations that will knock you straight back into your comfort zone. To change your habits, you must have a plan; one that is realistic and doable. You must be tenacious about it while being willing to break through the terror threshold, no matter what persuasion the subconscious ninjas use to pull you back into your old sticky ways. So, let’s look at the steps you can take to build NEW, healthy habits and get rid of the ones that are keeping you stuck in the vicious cycle, that you KNOW you want to break out of.
What Is Your Why? It can be difficult to change your habits if you don’t know why you are doing it or if you don’t have a big enough reason. If your goal is to leave work at the time you are supposed to leave, or buying things on Amazon that you don’t need, you must know the why you want these things. What will having or doing those things provide for you? Will it give you freedom, peace of mind, the grace to live your life guilt free. Just stating that you want to stop being a perfectionist is not enough. Figuring out on your why may seem cliché, and you might even be thinking, “Well Coach Jenna I know my why, but still can’t freaking change my habits no matter how hard I try.” Trust me, I hear you, but that’s where you are already starting to make excuses for all the reasons WHY you can’t change, instead of staying focused on what it is that you really, truly want and what you need to do to get there. So, what you can try is get out a pen and your notebook and write out all the habits you want to change along with your big why next to each one. Then circle one habit to start with that is stopping you from reaching the next step in your life. It is best to start small gain momentum and then move on to the next habit.
Stop Negotiating With Yourself- How many times have you negotiated yourself right out of trying to form a new habit. I bet it has been a lot because I have been there done that. So, here is the thing you must be able to stop yourself all together from the negotiation process. So, for you to anchor some non-negotiation skills here is where you can start.
-Figure out what habit you want to change and OWN it by telling yourself I am a person who sticks with my commitments not someone who buys things impulsively on Amazon, take away my power to know better
-Know when the negotiation ninjas come to visit – when we try to talk ourselves out of things that we know are good for us, we tend to not be super creative or varied. We tend to stick to the same old, lame-o excuses. When you do this, it should be EASY to recognize your tried and true method for knocking yourself out of the new habit-building game. Be on the lookout for these favorite excuses of yours, and the second one comes up, recognize the negotiation and DO. NOT. CONSIDER. IT. for even one minuscule of a second. Just move along like it didn’t even happen.
Know What Your Triggers Are– Triggers can be almost anything, it can be a sound, smell, feeling, time of day, another person etc. It is important for you too know what your triggers are before your old habits kick in especially the ones that are not serving you right now. How we react to the trigger will make a big difference in the world we are trying to change our habit. Here is how to identify your triggers.
-Write out the habit you want to change. Example, don’t procrastinate out on doing your laundry
-Then write out the triggers of that habit. Here are some examples
Feelings: I’m exhausted, I’ve had a long day
Time of Day; After dinner, it’s getting late and I want to wind down
Sounds: TV is on and I just want to sit and chill
Places: The couch looks cozy and relaxing after a hard day
People: Hubby is cozy on the couch with and I want to join him
Smells: Popcorn is on the stove and crunching on popcorn
Now go through your list and pick the biggest triggers that is linked to your bad habit and write it down including your action that you plan to take with the trigger. Now it is time to try your new habit, however when you are sense your old habit being triggered, switch gears and try out one of the actions that you have listed. As you repeat this new habit your ADHD brain will slowly change, and the new behavior will become automatic. Once this new habit becomes automatic, you can go back to your list and do the same process for the other habits you want to change. Only tackle one at a time for the best results. The bottom line is that changing your habits takes time and consistency. The more you focus on taking small steps the more momentum you will build with changing your habits