For many, the new year is a time to start (or re-start) a new habit or journey to a goal. It's easy and exciting in the beginning, but have you ever started a habit only for it to fade after a few days or few weeks?
There are theories that it takes 21 days, 40 days, or even 60 days to make a habit stick, but I believe there's more to it than that. Whether you want to start writing, dieting, meditating, reading, exercising, decluttering or practicing yoga there's no stronger motivator to maintain the habit in the long term than your 'why'.
The important thing is, knowing your 'heart why' rather than your 'ego why' can be the difference between lasting, positive change, and a daily battle or the disappointment of another failed attempt.
The ego tells us that we want to be able to do all kinds of things, but when the ego decides what we should be doing the reasons are often superficial and do not hold enough meaning for us to stick with the habit. The ego is easily bored, easily distracted, and doesn't like hard work. Put a tough day in it's way, a road block, or maybe just something more shiny and appealing and it'll abandon the habit without a second thought!
Don't worry, all is not lost! There is a way that creates lasting change!
If we spend a little time digging deeper into the real reasons we'd like to do something, we can find our true motivation – our 'heart why'. These reasons are usually connected to our life goals and are often orientated around health, happiness and family.
Let's look at meditating as an example of digging into the 'heart why' – this is an example of the thought process I once had in my journal to find my true motivation to meditate every day.
Why do I want to meditate every day?
I've read blog posts and articles that say it's good for me. Similar responses to this initial question could be 'because it's the yogi thing to do' or 'because I've heard that lots of successful people do it'
If I were to stop there, this reason alone is probably not enough to solidify the habit into my daily life even if I've heard and read that it would be good for me.
So dig deeper and ask 'why is it good for me'?
It helps me to slow down, find focus, be more calm, and requires discipline.
Great! That's better, but it's still not the true 'heart why'. All those things are good but is it enough to solidify the habit? Is it closely related to my bigger goals in life? Nope! So keep asking...
Why do I want to slow down, find focus and calm, need discipline?
Slowing down reduces my stress levels and stops me being swept away with feeling of overwhelm. Not succumbing to overwhelm, and finding focus helps me to complete the tasks I want to do in a day. Finding discipline to do this one thing, lets me know I have the discipline to do other things in my life and therefore get things done even when they're challenging or not easy. Lower stress levels are lower stress levels, right?!
We're getting closer and all those things are great, but they're not the big reason yet. Let's ask again! 'Why are those things good?'
If I'm more calm and focused, and have the discipline to complete the tasks I need to do each day, then I have more time for the things I love to do – spend time with my husband, friends & pups, and to be outdoors. If I'm less stressed, I'll be more present when I'm with friends and family, and I'll be more fun to be around.
Do you see the real reason I want to meditate now? It's not because I read an article that said it's good for me or because successful people say it works for them. My real reason for sitting on that cushion every day is because I know it will allow me to spend more quality time doing the things I want to do with the people I love. That is my 'heart why'. That is the one to write down and have visible for the days that practicing the habit doesn't appeal to me for whatever reason. We've found the true motivation I need to stick with the habit in the long term.
It's important for you to sit down and be true to yourself in this process – we all have different motivations in life, and what motivates me, may not motivate you. You have to dig deep and find what YOU want!
This just doesn't work for a habit of meditating, it can work for healthy eating, getting more sleep, daily writing, exercising, and anything else you might want to add into your life!
Why not give it a go? Find somewhere quiet for 10-20 minutes, I recommend writing in a journal or on your computer to really work it though. Don't hesitate, over-analyze, or over-think about what you're writing, there is no right or wrong answer and no one else needs to see this so don't hold back, just keep writing openly without judgment until you find your true motivation.
It's time to get past the ego's reasons that you want to implement new habits into your life and ask why, why and why again and again until you find your true motivation. Ask and answer until you find a reason that really resonates with your heart so that you can follow through in 2018!