A Shift in Perspective: Starting vs Stopping a Habit


Photo by: Catherine Teague

I use this photo of my dog and me walking to illustrate a point about habit development and behavior change: seek addition to your life, not subtraction. What do you want MORE of in your life? When we want to make healthy lifestyle changes, we tend to start with what we want to stop doing. For example:

·     stop eating from the snack drawer in the office

·     stop drinking so much after work

·     stop spending so much time on my phone

·     stop ordering out/picking up food

·     stop eating so much meat

While it’s good to identify behavior you want to alter, basing your goals on a negative versus a positive can hurt your long-term success. Why? Because it emphasizes deprivation. You are coming from a place of restriction. This might not seem like a big deal, but mindset is key to maintaining changes in your schedule. Slight tweaks to how you approach your goals can be the very thing that enables you to reach them. Flip the script to what you want your life to include.

I like to work with clients on setting goals that come from a positive perspective and lead to action. So, for example, using those same goals but slightly tweaking the approach:

·     stop eating from the snack drawer in the office ->

start packing a healthy snack in my work bag to eat when I need something (I get more healthy food)

·     stop drinking so much after work ->

start walking my dog when I get home to relieve stress from work day (I get more outside time, exercise, bonding)

·     stop spending so much time on my phone ->

start reading a new book before bed (I get more mentally beneficial stimulation, likely more sleep)

·     stop ordering out/picking up food ->

start preparing and prepping my meals in advance so I have a quick, healthy meals available (I get more healthy food and save more $)

·     stop eating so much meat ->

start filling plate with more vegetables so meat becomes a side (I get more fiber, color etc to my diet)

One of the best ways to stop doing something is to start doing something else in its place. Replace one habit with another one. Therefore, the void is being filled. You are adding something to your life not just taking something away.

When you want to make a change, take the perspective of abundance over restriction. I want more of this (not less of that). You will focus more on the positive action you can take to start feeling the way you want to feel. And, if you can get someone else involved who will mutually benefit from this change (like a dog!), you will feel an extra accountability to follow through with it. The positivity will be added to their life as well. Abundance all around.

wellnessJulie Minchewhabits