Habit change as a topic is growingly popular with books like atomic habits by James clear or tiny habits by BJ Fogg and you know even Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. There’s been a ton of New York Times best selling books about habit change. It’s growingly popular now. But what’s better for habit change? One focus change, or several small changes? Let’s unpack that today.
Audio Transcript Below
Health REBELs is charting a new path to health, one that’s dedicated their focus to wellness, not athletics. Here we break free from common standards and redefine healthy living by following the REBELs Oath. The REBELs oath says
- Reject extremes
- Energize ourselves through healthy habits
- Break free from common standards
- Excite ourselves about our potential, and finally,
- Love ourselves and act accordingly.
Habit change is hard! Habit change is hard. Look, my dad has quit smoking at least a half dozen times. Every year, we see New Year’s come around. And we see New Year’s resolutions start and fade away. Like my buddy Tim, he’s tried unsuccessfully, to stop biting his fingernails. Me, I have successfully stopped biting my fingernails. (Ha! Suck it, Tim!)
No, no, but really Habit changed is hard.
Maybe you have habits that you’ve tried to change in the past with varying degrees of success or not success? So this is a great question to ask today. For habit change. Habits that change for a lifetime, make meaningful change that lasts more than just a couple of weeks or a couple of months.
Is it better to make one focused change at a time? Or a few small changes?
And the truth is, like most things with health and wellness, the answer is not as cut and dry. It’s not black and white. It’s not A or B. But the reality is, there are about 50 Shades of Grey. And I’d probably make a whole lot more money on this podcast if those 50 Shades of Grey got a little spicy little Christian Grey action going on. But neither here nor there. The reality is, there is a lot of wiggle room here that we need to discuss. Sometimes, what is textbook right Is not real world right.
This is something that we see often in health and fitness, things that look really good and research we put into practice. And we noticed that doesn’t help people. And so instead of giving you a cut and dry yes or no answer, I want to look at three things that we need to consider before we can actually say which is better.
So the first real point that I want to consider is if you’re changing a couple habits at once. Are those habits compounding? Or are they conflicting? Do the habits build on each other? Or do they all ask for their own space? You know, we can see this with with Health REBELs. We coach along the six components of healthy living. So when clients start with us, we’re typically asking for changes in six different areas of their healthy living. But the reason being is they all kind of add together. You can see this contrasted with other people that are going through change.
Sometimes people try to change everything in their life. They’ll get a new home, a new job, try to get a new group of friends start a new workout plan, they’re going to start eating well. They’re going to go all in and then they get fried. So what we want to do is look at these compounding versus conflicting, right, there’s some changes that go together well and make sense. And then there are some changes that take effort. All change takes effort. I know that don’t grill me, but some changes when they take effort and then the Different change, unrelated, takes more effort. And then a different change unrelated takes even more effort, we just run out of energy, we run out of that mental real estate, we run out of bandwidth, we can’t help all of those changes.
However, with things like a holistic wheel, when, when habits can emphasize and improve each other, and aid in each other, then they start to be compounding a great example of this as a small little change in your activity. Plus a small little change in nutrition. Again, operative word being small in this situation, right? That small change in energy and nutrition is going to make you feel better give you more energy, which is going to allow you to do the exercise without feeling rundown. Sometimes you’ll start a new exercise plan, and they just feel lethargic, they feel beat up, they feel rundown, and they don’t have anything to support them. So it falls apart.
But when we compare the two, and more importantly, when we compare the rest of the holistic wheel, especially stress management, and sleep, all these little things they start to, they start to grow and multiply and make everything more effective. So that the small little changes we make in one category gets a bigger result in another category. So they support each other are the habit changes, conflicting, or supporting, that’s going to be a variable that we need to know whether it’s more important to do one or multiple, if you’re doing things that conflict, like a new job, a new workout routine, new home, new social life, those are all conflicting uses of energy, then you’re going to, you’re setting yourself up for failure. But if there’s small, low energy tasks that improve and grow everything else, then that can support and make it easier.
So the first part to consider is, do these habits go together? The second thing to consider as an individual, what kind of support network Do you have? You know, I have an advantage here with coaching, I give people a lot of support and accountability, I monitor them if something’s not going right, I can get them back on path quickly. Right, they have that good support network, when you’re one of my clients, you also get access to the community. So you’re going to have me, you’re going to have other people that care about you and care about you doing the right things, you’re going to have a lot more support. When we have support, we can bear more weight.
When we have support we can do a little bit more without being overrun and overwhelmed. But if you’re doing something on your own, it’s a lot tougher. If you’re doing something on your own. It takes a lot more energy, it’s a lot more risky, you’re better off doing one thing at a time. Depending on your support networks, that’s also going to dictate how much change you can adopt at one time. So that’s something to consider. And then finally, assess your life. How much space in your life do you have for change right now?
Some people have some open periods in their life where they can take on more changes. I’ve recently had a client that stepped away from her work, did like a little intentional. sabbatical had more open time could adopt more changes. But what about someone that wants to make a change but could attach catastrophe strikes? Maybe they lost their job now they have the stress of doing the job search, they have to take care of an ailing family member. So they’ve got that going on.
And then they’ve got maybe, you know, if we compare my lifestyle as a child free individual versus a single mother with four children, right, I have a lot more space to adopt a lot more changes. Someone that’s a single mother with four children, not as much space in their life to adopt a lot of change.
Now, as a kicker here, I do have to mention, nobody ever has enough space for change. Right? Nobody ever has enough space. The moment you think something can be better. That is the moment that we shouldn’t make that change. It doesn’t matter if it’s the right time. There is literally never the right time. It’s never the perfect time and I I would, I would love you to challenge me on this, you can email me, [email protected] and tell me the last time it was the right time for you to make a change, tell me the last time it was the perfect time to make a change, I’m not gonna get an email, I’m pretty confident being a been in this industry for 13 years, there’s never a perfect time to make a change, once you decide that you should, or want to make a change, doesn’t matter how much space at least make some sort of change.
If you have more space in life to make changes, we can adopt more changes. If you don’t have a lot of space in your life, we need to isolate that down and focus on top priorities first and do one change. Right. So it’s a little bit more nuanced than just what’s best. Right? It’s not just one habit versus many habits is not just one big habit versus a lot of small habits is not big change versus little change. It is? Are the changes supportive of each other? Or are they conflicting with each other? What kind of network and support do you have to help you with these changes?
And finally, in your current life, how much space for change do you actually have? So look, I know a lot of the best. And if you’re doing something on your own, the best advice for on your own most often is one small focus change at a time. Once you get that on autopilot. Once you’re familiar with that, then you can add another change. In my coaching practice, we usually run contrary to this advice, we usually give people a handful of changes to make a long that holistic, we’ll they’re very small, very manageable, very approachable changes.
But because those changes support each other, we don’t have to do as much we don’t have to do as much change, but we get more out of them. And then with the coaching, I know that you have the support network to keep you going, I know that you’re going to be able to stay on path. And even if you don’t, even if you run into a hiccup, we can get you back on path because you have that support network, right support is going to be something. But even in my practice, even with my bias, where most often we go for a few small changes. I have to be honest, sometimes I come up against a client that is going through it at the time, right?
There’s a world of struggles going on in this individual’s life, and they don’t have space to do changes in six components of their healthy lifestyle. And even then we make modifications, right, knowing what space they have available, and then we do whatever change is going to be the easiest and make the most impact. Right. So there’s nuance, there’s, I know there are books that will tell you one answer over the other. And I know with my coaching, I have a bias towards one over the other. But even then, we still need to leave room to to factor in these three variables. Are they conflicting? Or are they compounding? Do they support or fight each other? What kind of support do you have to keep you on the path of change to get you through this change? And then finally, how much space do you have in your life to make a change? How much? How much room? Can you actually take on right now? Right? So when we consider those we get a better a nuanced answer. And unfortunately, I can’t give you what the best answer is. Because unless you’re my client, unless we go through unless we talk in depth. I don’t know how to answer those three things for you. But I would love to answer those three things for you. In fact, as a listener to this podcast, I would love to give you right now a free 60 minute coaching call. Right just to talk about what habit changes. Are you considering? What habit changes? Should you consider? What are your goals? Where are you right now? And how do we bridge the gap? Like that’s a free offer for you. I’m gonna put the link in the show notes. But if you go to health rebels.us/call You can schedule a 60 minute call for free just for being a listener on this podcast. Right and I hope this helps.
I hope this gives you a little bit more nuance, a little bit more things to consider. So it’s not as black and white. So you know, what is actually the best advice for you as an individual what’s the best choice for you to make with habit change, so that you could stick with it. I always tell people, especially in fitness but in health and wellness results you get for six weeks or changes you make for six weeks but can’t keep for six years. They’re not real. You’re just borrowing it. To make real habit change, you need to consider these three factors. And that’s all I got for you on a habit change today. But if you come back tomorrow, I got another great episode planned for the Health REBELs podcast. So until I see you again, tomorrow for another episode of the Health REBELs podcast, go on over to health rebels.us/call Book your 60 minute call and keep the oath
I hope that episode helps give you some steps you can take to break free from common standards so that you can live a happier, healthier life. I’d love to continue to support you on that path to redefining healthy living. So I want to invite you to join my free Facebook group, the Health REBELs community. There we post daily content to redefine what healthy living means by following the holistic wheel and the REBEL of you’ll also get community support with like minded Health REBELs. If you’re not already a member, search for the Health REBELs community on Facebook or go to facebook.com/groups/health REBELs. I look forward to seeing you in there REBEL